Three years into the implementation period of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is Asia Pacific on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? According to ESCAP’s recent Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report, the answer is yes for only one Goal, unlikely for many Goals, and probably not for a few Goals where the region is moving in the wrong direction, most notably on inequality. While there are major variations across the vast Asia Pacific region, between and within countries, the overall trajectories are clear and point to areas where urgent action is needed.
Time for Canada to Act on the Sustainable Development Goals Julia Sanchez, President-CEO, Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC); and Scott Vaughn, President and CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
The clock is ticking to meet the ambitious global goals set in 2015 to ensure a better future for people and the planet. While many challenges remain, there are optimistic signs of progress.
This brief continues last week’s discussion on efforts to achieve SDG 3 (good health and well-being) and beyond, to look at reports and initiatives addressing climate (SDG 13), gender (SDG 5), employment (SDG 8) and public expenditures and development cooperation (SDG 17).
What does it take for a country to come together to achieve the SDGs? We know that ultimately the SDGs are the responsibility of national level governments, but their true transformative potential will only be realized if we are able to engage individuals and communities in their implementation.
1 June 2018: To coincide with World Environment Day 2018, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) has released two reports on plastics and the environment. Also, in parallel to the Day, which is focusing on the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution,’ the European Commission has proposed a single-use plastics ban in Europe.
1 June 2018: The Netherlands has released its second SDG report, which finds the Netherlands ranks highly among European countries in several areas of progress towards the Global Goals. In other areas, the country lags behind its European peers.
31 May 2018: During the month of May, bankers continued discussions on climate-related financial disclosures to transform the way markets respond to climate change. Development practitioners implemented policy-oriented adaptation strategies with projects aimed at increasing climate resilience. They also reviewed lessons learned, progress made and further needs, in particular for the African Region.
4 June 2018: Delegates are meeting for the penultimate week of negotiations scheduled for the preparation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. During the opening session on 4 June 2018, countries began sharing comments on the second revised draft of the compact (‘Draft Rev 2’), including on the distinction between of migrants and refugees and between regular and irregular migrants, on the non-binding nature of the compact, and on States’ sovereignty to determine their national migration policy.
2 June 2018: The first meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics exchanged views on the barriers to combating marine litter and microplastics and considered the work of existing mechanisms addressing this issue, including a new global governance structure. Participants agreed to finalize the Co-Chairs’ summary of the meeting within the next two weeks.
31 May 2018: The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) began its consideration of the UN Secretary-General’s proposals on decentralizing management structures at UN Headquarters. Delegates called for enhancing transparency and accountability, streamlining processes and reducing bureaucracy within the UN system.
30 May 2018: The first United Smart Cities (USC) Smart City LAB has opened in Vienna, Austria, to support the creation of solutions for smart sustainable cities across the globe. The LAB will develop and implement urban sustainability projects in cities in the areas of education, health, infrastructure, mobility, energy and Internet of Things (IoT), among others, and will support the acceleration of new projects.
29 May 2018: The High-Level Panel on Migration in Africa (HLPM) discussed migration strategies for African development. A report from the Panel is expected to be submitted to the African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit, in January 2019. Also in May, the Intergovernmental Consultations on Migration, Asylum and Refugees (IGC) held a consultative meeting, addressing the forthcoming global compacts on both migrants and refugees.
28 May 2018: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have announced a partnership to address air quality, which causes approximately seven million deaths annually.
25 May 2018: The second edition of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Good Global Summit convened under the theme, ‘Accelerating progress towards the SDGs,’ bringing together experts in AI and humanitarian action to advance sustainable development.
25 May 2018: UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Miroslav Lajcak has encouraged UN Member States to nominate female candidates to chair the Assembly’s Main Committees during the 73rd session, and to serve as vice-presidents of the Assembly. The elections will take place on 5 June 2018, along with the election for the UNGA 73 presidency.
WHO, World Bank Launch Board to Monitor Health Emergencies 24 May 2018: The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank jointly launched an international mechanism to improve global preparedness for health emergencies, as a step toward ending epidemics of communicable diseases (SDG target 3.3) and strengthening the capacity of all countries for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks (SDG target 3.d). The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) will monitor the work of governments, the private sector and civil society organizations, help raise financing, and ensure that the necessary research and development is conducted.ESCAP Affirms Commitment to Tackling Inequality 16 May 2018: The 74th session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) agreed to give greater priority to reducing all forms of inequality in efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Member States adopted 11 resolutions at the session, including commitments to improve data collection and statistics and to promote disability-inclusive sustainable development. In conjunction with the session, ESCAP launched its ‘Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report.’Report on Business Sustainability Reporting Highlights Need to Accelerate Pace 14 May 2018: The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB) have published data from the Reporting Exchange that analyzes differences in environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting between sectors, market maturity levels and national contexts. The report titled, ‘Insights from the Reporting Exchange: National, regional and international developments,’ emphasizes that while sustainability reporting is moving in the right direction, it needs to move faster.