New UN report says Asia-Pacific countries must transform relationships between economy, society, and environment to achieve 2030 Agenda

Megatrends that are influencing the future of the Asia-Pacific region, such as urbanization, economic and trade integration, rising incomes and changing patterns of production and consumption, must be better managed to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to a new United Nations report.

The report, Transformations for Sustainable Development: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific, was launched today by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), together with representatives from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES).

Launched at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) in Bangkok, the first meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders on sustainable development since the 2030 Agenda was adopted, the report aims to support Asia-Pacific governments as they work to achieve the promise of the 2030 Agenda over the next 15 years.

Dr. Akhtar underscored that urgent transformations are needed in the areas of resource use, social justice, economic structure and investment flows: “Using an environmental lens, the report explores policy and practical initiatives in each of these areas, while at the same time emphasizing the critical links to the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.”

“Many ESCAP member States have solid track records of economic transformation, many more are in the process of political transformation, and others are strategizing how best to fast-track reforms,” said Dr. Akhtar. “The capacity for managing transformations to promote environmental sustainability, as an integral pillar of sustainable development, must now be developed.”

Prof. Hironori Hamanaka, Chair of the Board of Directors of IGES added, “Last year’s adoption of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals could help transform development patterns for the foreseeable future in Asia. But for this transformation to materialize, Asia’s policymakers will need to fundamentally alter investment flows, provisions of social justice, economic structures and patterns of resource use. This timely report offers a cutting-edge assessment of how Asia’s policymakers can harness changes in these four areas to make the region better for all.”

"With so much infrastructure development and economic growth still ahead of us in Asia and the Pacific, it is time to transform the way we use natural resources and align the public and private sector financial systems so that they support the Sustainable Development Goals,’ said Ms. Isabelle Louis, Acting Head of UNEP in Asia and the Pacific.

Prof. Anthony Capon, Head of the UNU International Institute for Global Health, based in Kuala Lumpur, added, “There is a pressing need to build knowledge and capacity across the region, to improve decision-making for sustainable development in all sectors.”

The report is the latest in a series of reports on environmental sustainability by ESCAP and its partners, which has been produced every five years since 1985. The report aims to bring emerging issues and future challenges to the attention of policymakers and other stakeholders across the region.

Download a full copy of the report.