By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) yesterday called on the Asia Pacific region to prioritize ambitions beyond economic growth so that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in its entirety, are fulfilled by receiving due emphasis.
The UNESCAP asserted that despite the region having emerged as an “economic powerhouse”, it is observed that the wealth has not been shared widely, and the excessive use of natural resources have taxed developing nations, thus making the need to invest in people and the planet even more urgent.
The agency in its latest report on the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and Pacific 2019 stated that in an effort to move forward towards a more harmonious development path, characterized by synergies rather than trade-offs, the region needs to immediately address investment shortfalls in “people and the planet”.
The endeavor would typically require a reallocation of capital of about 4-5 per cent of GDP, on average, in the region.
This translates to Asia-Pacific developing countries, including Sri Lanka, requiring an investment of an additional US $ 1.5 trillion per year to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Although countries such as Sri Lanka, amongst others in the region, are yet to be efficient in their expenditures, UNESCAP said the reallocation can be made if nations allocate US$ 1 per person per day.
Doing so would help set aside (on a per day basis), US$ 0.10 for the protection of nature, US$ 0.25 towards zero poverty and hunger, US$ 0.19 for health and education for all, US$ 0.12 for sustainable infrastructure and US$ 0.27 for clean energy.
Meanwhile, UNESCAP also stressed that incorporating the private sector into the SDG fulfillment efforts is imperative to ensure the 17 specified areas are addressed within the target year 2030.
“It is always expected of the government alone to fulfill the SDGs and that is not realistic. The private sector has much to contribute in this regard because they have the necessary capabilities to do so. Coordinated efforts must be taken to get them on board,” said UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer during the report launch in Colombo, yesterday.
The UNESCAP also pointed out that the agency is looking at working closely with the government for the creation of more specific estimates to make policies and prioritize the SDGs.