This month’s floods in Thailand are a worrisome reminder of the increasing uncertainty of extreme weather events. Thailand’s flood season usually ends in November, but this year, influenced by a low depression and a strong northeast monsoon, widespread flooding in the south of the country has killed more than sixty people, affected over 330,000 households, and resulted in widespread asset losses.
The Asia-Pacific region is at a turning point in its energy trajectory. The energy solutions that have fuelled growth in the region over the past few decades are no longer compatible with the sustainable development aspirations of our nations and their people.
Transport is a key contributor to economic growth, prosperity and tosocietal well-being. Physical links across Asia and the Pacific have increasingly improved throughyears of steady investments in the Asian Highway, a project endorsed by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) commission at its 48th session in 1992 to promote intergovernmental agreements to develop a regional highway network,and the Trans-Asian Railways, as well as through the facilitation of land transport projects.
Eighteen years after the formation of SPECA, the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers a renewed opportunity for SPECA to play a more critical role in promoting subregional cooperation in Central Asia. Through fostering greater subregional cooperation, SPECA can support national implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as addressing many of the transboundary SDGs, such as ecosystems, natural resources, climate change, infrastructure connectivity and disaster risk reduction.
Nothing erases development gains as suddenly and severely as natural disasters. Earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones wreak destruction, not only across borders but across generations, reversing the hard-won progress of many years in poverty reduction, delivery of essential services, promotion of small business and economic opportunity. Disaster resilience in Asia and the Pacific is mission critical for the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The emergence of new ideas, technological advancements and innovative market-driven financing solutions has lent confidence to the idea that universal access to energy services is attainable.
The pursuit of science, technology and innovation (STI), consistent with the guiding framework of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and COP21, is critical for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Asia and the Pacific has great potential to exploit STI to ensure no one is left behind, and economic and social productivity can be achieved through reaping the benefits of the technological revolution and adopting green and low carbon pathways.
Advances in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have been instrumental in shaping and leading socioeconomic transformations across Asia and the Pacific. One key to this transformation is the technology bundled around the “Internet of Things” (IoT), which enables billions of devices and appliances to connect over the Internet for more accurate, real time data collection and analysis in an unparalleled scale.
Investment in science, technology and innovation (STI) needs to be the backbone of productivity-led economic recovery and sustainable development. Despite significant increases in productivity over the past few decades, economic growth in developing economies of Asia and the Pacific has been primarily driven by factor accumulation. However, the average rate of productivity growth slowed between 2000-2007 and 2008-2014 by 65%, which has contributed to the economic slowdown and can undermine efforts to effectively pursue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We must revive growth in productivity, one of the keys to which is a highly-skilled labor force.
The Asia-Pacific region’s successful achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development needs to be driven by broad-based productivity gains and rebalancing of economies towards domestic and regional demand. This is the main message of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2016, published by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Such a strategy will not only underpin the revival of robust and resilient economic growth, but also improve the quality of growth by making it more inclusive and sustainable.