A Determined Path to the SDGs in 2030 Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic

As lockdowns ease in countries across Asia and the Pacific in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear—a return to business as usual is unimaginable in a region that was already off track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The virtual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development recently convened governments and stakeholders across the globe to focus on the imperative to build back better while keeping an eye on the Global Goals. Asia was the first to be hit by COVID-19 and feel its devastating social and economic impacts. Efforts to respond to the pandemic have revealed how many people in our societies live precariously close to poverty and hunger, without access to essential services. Between 90 million and 400 million people in Asia and the Pacific may be pushed back into poverty, living on less than $3.20 a day. Many countries are taking bold actions to minimize the loss of life and economic costs, estimated in May by ADB at $1.7 trillion to $2.5 trillion in the region alone. The pandemic has exposed fragility and systemic gaps in many key systems. However, there are many workable strategies that countries have used, both before and after COVID-19, to accelerate progress related to development goals and strengthen resilience. Countries have taken steps to extend universal health care systems, strengthen social protection systems, including cash transfer and food distribution systems for vulnerable households. Accurate and regular data have been key to such efforts. Innovating to help the most disadvantaged access financing and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) credits have also been vital. Several countries have taken comprehensive approaches to various forms of discrimination, particularly related to gender and gender-based violence. Partnerships, including with the private sector and financing institutions, have played a critical role in fostering creative solutions. These experiences provide grounds for optimism. Several countries in Asia and the Pacific are developing ambitious new strategies for green recovery and inclusive approaches to development. The Republic of Korea recently announced a New Deal based on two central pillars: digitization and decarbonization. Many countries in the Pacific, already proponents of ambitious clean energy targets and climate action, are focusing on “blue recovery,” seizing the opportunity to promote more sustainable approaches to fisheries management. India recently announced operating the largest solar power plant in the region. China is creating more jobs in the renewable energy sector than in fossil fuel industries. Many countries in our region are expanding social protection systems as part of COVID-19 recovery to go beyond a temporary patch and include the marginalized, such as informal sector workers. Follow @IPSNewsUNBureau

2020-07-27 | Asia-Pacific, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade | English |