Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is within reach, but more strategic investments are needed

In its annual report, Survey 2019: Ambitions beyond growth, launched today, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) – the UN’s regional arm – says that an additional annual investment of $1.5 trillion, equivalent to a dollar per person per day, would allow developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

It also finds that the price tag is within reach for many countries given their fiscal space and potential to leverage private investment.

Despite rapid economic growth, the study notes, too many people are left behind, without a fair chance in life, while environmental degradation has reached alarming levels, threatening the sustainability of past development gains.

Hence, keeping the old paradigm of prioritizing GDP growth at all costs is neither feasible nor desirable, the report argues.

“We must raise our ambitions beyond just economic growth. The 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals provide a clear blueprint for raising our ambitions. It calls for a change in mindset and an economic philosophy which puts people and the planet first,” United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said.

ESCAP proposes an investment package, equivalent to 5 per cent of the combined GDP of Asia-Pacific developing countries in 2018, that includes:
➢ $669 billion to support basic human rights and develop human capacities
➢ $590 billion to achieve clean energy for all and live in harmony with nature
➢ $196 billion for improved access to transport, information and communications technology (ICT), and water and sanitation.

The Acting Head of the New Zealand High Commission in Fiji, Ms Halia Haddad, speaking at the media event for the Survey launch in Fiji today, noted the “alignment of the ambition beyond growth theme of the report with New Zealand’s intention to launch what is believed to be the world’s first Wellbeing Budget”.

Dr. Neelesh Goundar, Senior Lecturer at theUniversity of the South Pacific also spoke at the launch and “congratulated ESCAP for putting
natural and social issues at the core of policymaking in the region”.

Taholo Kami, Fiji’s Oceans Representative, spoke of the “urgent need to address transboundary issues and risks associated with climate change and ocean ecosystems”, which the report identifies as the ‘greatest challenge’ for small islands developing states. The High Commissioner of Vanuatu, H.E. Nikenike Vurobaravu, was in attendance and referred to his country’s Peoples’ Plan to illustrate how Vanuatu had embarked on a development path that is more inclusive of people and culture.

Head of ESCAP Pacific Office, Iosefa Maiava, noted opportunities for further work at subregional and country levels to estimate investment needs and design associated financing policies for SDGs.

He concluded by recalling that the report makes a call for people and countries to work together to ensure no one is left behind in this journey towards sustainable development.

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