Today, there are 4.6 billion people living in the Asia-Pacific region. By 2050, projections from the UN Population Division show that there will be 600 million more people, representing the balance of births, deaths and migration into and out of countries of the region.
The Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads. The traditional export-oriented, manufacturing-driven growth is facing headwinds from sluggish external demand and rising protectionist trade measures. New technologies have increased the likelihood of labour-intensive jobs in the region becoming automated. Meanwhile, many countries have witnessed widening income and opportunity inequalities. Rising environmental risks and climatic disasters add further burdens to the future development agenda.
Asia and the Pacific is lauded globally for its rapid economic growth over recent decades and has lifted 1.1 billion people out of extreme poverty since 1990. Nevertheless, the region continues to have the largest number of poor people in the world. Why is Asia and the Pacific’s economic progress not translating into faster poverty reduction?
The far-reaching and ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind requires quality, timely, reliable and disaggregated data and statistics. This has drawn official statistics into a challenging situation to meet increasing and evolving data and statistical demands, and no National Statistical Office (NSO) has yet to fulfill all the statistical requirements of the 2030 Agenda.
Fiscal policy – the use of government spending and taxation – is a prominent policy tool for national development. Since the 1980s, its role somewhat diminished as laissez-faire, an approach of limited government, began to prevail. The unprecedented and concerted fiscal expansion in the wake of the global financial and economic crisis of 2008 not only helped stabilize the world economy, but also vindicated the importance of a proactive fiscal policy. Nevertheless, it also resulted in higher public debt in developed countries and non-private corporate debt in China.
One of the most frequently asked questions children are asked is what they want to become in the future. I remember when I was younger, sitting in a classroom, my teacher asked everyone in class this very same question. My classmates eagerly answered, “I want to be a lawyer, a doctor, or a teacher!” But not once did I ever hear a child say, “I’m going to be a statistician when I grow up!”
The state of implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is monitored at the global level by using the Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 169 targets and the 232 internationally-agreed indicators.
Four years after the global leaders came together to commit to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequalities, tackle climate change, and ensure that no one is left behind, an important question remains: How can the world finance such an ambitious agenda?
My 10-year-old daughter is a very conscientious environmentalist. Very. She turns off water while brushing her teeth, picks up plastic from beaches, and—as many of my stubbed toes can attest to—faithfully turns off lights throughout our house. You can then imagine my surprise when stopping at a fast food joint the other day for a quick bite to eat, she eagerly demanded a burger. Humouring her request, I nevertheless thought it was prudent to remind her of beef’s environmental impact, so I asked her:
Less than a dollar per person per day. That is all it will cost developing countries in Asia and the Pacific to realize their ambitions for an inclusive and sustainable future, according to a study by ESCAP.