Regional Response to Global Goals: Regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific

Delivered at High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2017, Co-hosted by Pakistan and Fiji

Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to this session on the Asia and Pacific Regional Roadmap for the implementation of 2030 Agenda. I would like to thank the Governments of Fiji and Pakistan for organizing this event with us.

The regional roadmap was adopted by the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and unanimously endorsed by the 73rd session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in May. It broke new ground on several fronts. It is the only inter-governmentally agreed, member-state driven, regional roadmap for implementing the 2030 Agenda. It is the product of six months of consultation and debate with governments across our region. It demonstrates the commitment of our Member States to finding a coherent regional approach to meeting the goals of an ambitious global sustainable development agenda.

The Roadmap provides a clear framework for our analytical and technical support, as well as for monitoring and evaluation. It is guiding our work on sustainable development goals across all sectors. This includes analytical work on financing for development, so important in a region where countries only mobilise 17.6 percent of GDP through tax revenues, half the OECD average. It has strengthened our determination to help share best practice in science, technology and innovation in a region now responsible for 45 percent of R&D investment, albeit unevenly distributed. Within its framework, we want to improve the availability and quality of regional data and statistics. Currently, there is only data available for half of the SDGs at regional level in Asia and the Pacific.

The Roadmap will also help shape our response to climate change and our efforts to strengthen our region’s disaster risk reduction and resilience capacity to help the half a billion people in Asia and the Pacific who currently live at medium or high disaster risk. The Roadmap is also informing our measures to improve natural resource management for a region responsible for half of global natural resource consumption. It encourages seamless connectivity in the fields of transport, energy and ICT and propels us forward as we work to improve the quality of growth to generate decent jobs and broader social protection coverage. An ambition to improve access to essential services runs through the Roadmap – so important for the 70% of people in Asia and the Pacific who lack access to reliable healthcare or to the half a billion people who do not have reliable access to electricity.

Our drive to revitalize partnerships with regional UN development agencies, regional development banks and think tanks has been given added momentum. As has ESCAP’s commitment to supporting countries with special needs – including countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. The Roadmap through its holistic and sequenced approach to development is in step with the United Nations Secretary-General’s focus on promoting peace, security and ensuring preventive diplomacy. Good governance and peaceful and inclusive societies have a vital role to play in reducing inequality in Asia and the Pacific.

The Roadmap has already enabled us to step up the sharing of best practice and is buttressing the secretariat’s efforts to support member states through United Nations funds, programmes, specialized agencies and regional organizations through the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism, the RCM. Our Disaster Risk Reduction Group has developed and is implementing a UN wide action plan to support ASEAN. Our Gender Equality and Empowerment Group is mainstreaming gender based budgeting and advocacy including through a common fund. Our Statistics Group is working on a region wide gap analysis to support harmonized SDG methodology development and coherent UN technical support on SDG data and indicators. And Our Inclusive Development and Poverty Eradication Group has led the Ministerial Roundtables reviewing regional progress on SDGs. The Asia-Pacific RCM has become instrumental in coordinating the implementation of the UN-ASEAN Plan of Action for 2016-2020: a good example of the UN family coming together to implement a regional agenda in support of the SDGs.

Progress towards roadmap implementation will be reviewed annually at the APFSD, which is the first institutionalized regional intergovernmental platform to advance sustainable development with UN wide involvement. This regional review mechanism links with and feeds into the global agenda discussed here at HLPF. Critically, it ensures priorities for cooperation can be adjusted by member states to respond to new challenges and progress on the ground.

Central to ESCAP’s work is the drive to strengthen the means of implementation which underpin the Regional Commission’s mandate to conduct follow up and review. To support this, ESCAP has published the Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Goals Baseline report that has established a framework to plug gaps in statistics and data, by better using available data. The new measurement framework uses data on 30 per cent of the proposed SDG indicators to give a snapshot of how far the region has come since 2000, where we need to accelerate progress for each SDG and how much progress is expected by the end of 2030. I believe it is the first regional measurement methodology of its kind.

Asia and the Pacific - a region with an impressive development track record - needs to step up its overall development reform effort. The region is on track to achieve the SDGs focusing on ‘no poverty’, ‘quality education’, ‘decent work’, ‘economic growth, industry and infrastructure’ and ‘life below water’. But for over a third of SGDs, existing progress towards ending hunger, achieving food security, delivering agricultural sustainability, ensuring good health and well-being for all, achieving gender equality and ensuring access to the availability of clean water, sanitation, and affordable, clean energy is slow. For almost one third of SDGs, we are striving to reverse the trends which have exacerbated inequalities, overstretched cities and communities, and distorted consumption and production.

On that note, let me handover to the high-level representatives from Fiji and Pakistan so that they can share their insights on the different aspects of the road map. We will then welcome your interventions.