Transformations for Sustainable Development: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific

Sustainable Development

In September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development —a transformative development agenda with sustainable development at its core. Successful implementation will rely on a shared understanding of the transformations in markets, policies, governance approaches and mindsets that are needed to align current unsustainable development paths with sustainable development outcomes.

The regional report Transformations for Sustainable Development: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific aims to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda Asia and the Pacific. It was developed by ESCAP in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations University (UNU), and Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES). The report emphasizes that the Sustainable Development Goals will only be achieved when Asia-Pacific megatrends are managed in a way that creates opportunities for achieving development outcomes that are in line with environmental limits. It explores transformations in social justice, patterns of resource use, economic structural change and investment flows to deepen action at the national and regional levels on the environmental dimension of sustainable development.

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Suggested citation: ESCAP, UNEP, UNU and IGES (2016). Transformations for Sustainable Development: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific. United Nations, Bangkok: Available from

Transformation for sustainable development:
Voices from Asia and the Pacific

Why a regional report on transformation?

Asia and the Pacific countries have led the globe in defining several strategic policy innovations, including the principle of gross national happiness that has emerged from Bhutan, the philosophy of the sufficiency economy from Thailand, and the emphasis on quality of growth from China.

These pioneering efforts have boosted to global renewable energy and other “green” technology investments. Institutional mechanisms supporting green growth and sustainable development have been set up in a variety of countries and there is an increasingly supportive and aware private sector.

UN ESCAP advocates for green growth as a strategy to turn the trade-offs between environmental sustainability and economic growth into synergies so that resource constraints and the climate crisis become opportunities to eliminate poverty and create jobs in the region.

Deepening and broadening the impact of these initiatives to put the Asia and the Pacific region on a sustainable development track requires a structural transformation that integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development - economic, social, and environmental. This report will review key environmental trends and drivers; examine the structural changes needed for sustainable development; take a closer look at the elements of a “green transformation”; and identify the required collective action at the regional level.

UN ESCAP has supported a transformative paradigm - green growth - since the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific held in Seoul, Republic of Korea in 2005, where the resultant Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Development adopted green growth, or environmentally sustainable economic growth, as a regional policy focus.