Deepening economic integration in Asia and the Pacific is a longstanding regional objective. Not an end in itself but a means of supporting the trade, investment and growth necessary to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
2019 will be a landmark year for the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Four years will have passed since world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Four years since governments recommitted themselves to eradicating extreme poverty, improving universal health care coverage, education and food security, and achieving a sweeping set of economic, social and environmental objectives. Long enough to assess our direction of travel and then refocus work where progress is falling short.
Ministers and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development.
The Asia-Pacific region is urbanising at breakneck speed. In Asean alone, 90 million more persons will move into cities by 2030. This scale of urbanisation puts huge pressure on essential public services on which vibrant economies and inclusive societies depend.
Asia and the Pacific needs more women entrepreneurs. Women’s economic empowerment and gender equality depend on it, as does the inclusive economic growth needed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This drives a new initiative by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, generously supported by Global Affairs Canada, focused on improving women entrepreneurs’ access to finance in our region.
Inequality is increasing in Asia and the Pacific. Our region’s remarkable economic success story belies a widening gap between rich and poor. A gap that’s trapping people in poverty and, if not tackled urgently, could thwart our ambition to achieve sustainable development.
In 2018, we have an opportunity to accelerate progress towards gender equality. Movements such as #MeToo have shone the spotlight on an unacceptable status quo and demonstrated how too many women the world over continue to be deprived of respect and equal opportunities.
All eyes are on the 23rd Olympic Winter Games and 12th Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang this February. Top athletes will carry their national flags in an opening ceremony which has come to epitomize the international community.
Realizing the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development hinges on placing women at the centre of our efforts. A growing body of evidence illustrates that advancing women’s economic empowerment has multiplier effects across the spectrum of development. Reducing gender gaps in health, education and labour markets have been shown to contribute to lower poverty, higher economic growth, greater productivity and more resilient communities.