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Over the past two decades, the region has lifted millions out of poverty. Most countries are now in a position to offer their citizens many more opportunities to live longer, healthier, more productive and secure lives. In a richer but riskier world, these achievements are threatened by three overlapping crises. The most immediate is the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, which has cost many lives, brought economies to a standstill and pushed back an estimated 85 million people into extreme poverty measured at $1.9 per day. Second, rapid economic growth has often had devastating environmental consequences by exhausting natural resources, generating dangerous levels of pollution and contributing to global heating. An existential threat from climate change looms large. Third, is the damage from natural disasters that recur with increasing frequency and intensity.

Reclaiming our future. A common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. The theme study for the 78th Commission session describes pathways to achieve more inclusive and sustainable post-pandemic recovery. It identifies elements for a common agenda for present and future generations centred on protecting people and the planet, leveraging digital opportunities, trading and investing more together, raising financial resources and managing debt. It underlines the need to listen and work with young people, placing women at the centre for crisis-prepared policy action and new people-centric partnerships, with the readiness of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to serve.

The theme study for the 78th Commission session was launched on 17 May 2022 with the key messages of the report presented by the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.