The Asia-Pacific region, hosting two-thirds of the world’s growing population, is the powerhouse of global economic growth and industrialization. Coupled with pro-poor development policies, the region achieved unparalleled reduction in extreme poverty over the past few decades. Despite remarkable progress in health and livelihoods for millions of the most disadvantaged in the region, patterns of production and consumption have incurred devastating costs on the environment and ecosystems.
Ten years on, and the global economy is still reeling from the impact of the global financial crisis, the first crisis to originate in the United States of America. The Asia-Pacific region endured this historic event relatively unscathed, thanks to the improved macroeconomic policymaking following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
Each year, 12 September marks South-South Cooperation Day, a day to commemorate and leverage synergy among developing countries in fostering sustainable development, including the 2030 Agenda. South-South cooperation promotes solidarity among developing countries pursuing similar development paths by allowing them to learn lessons from each other. The newer concept of triangular cooperation involves two or more developing countries in collaboration with a third party, usually a developed country or a multilateral agency.
Equipped with robust monitoring and indicator frameworks, national development policies can accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given this potential, much is at stake to develop evidence-based and effective national policies that ultimately impact the most vulnerable and marginalised groups.
The smog that chokes Bangkok and Delhi, the recurring haze in Southeast Asia due to forest fires, and global episodes of heat wave are manifestations of man-made environmental degradation to which people in the region experience daily and can easily relate to. New evidence shows that the impact of environmental degradation, such as pollution, on human health is far greater than we had ever imagined.
The sun, oceans and nature provide a welcome respite to all of us, especially those living in cities without regular access to such resources. However, as urbanization continues to increase, how do we ensure that we collectively continue to enjoy nature and live in harmony with the environment?
International road transport requires agreements among countries on traffic rights to enable movement of vehicles of one country into another. The signing of a transport agreement that allows movement of foreign vehicles indicates significant steps forward to reduce cross-border and transit transport costs.
However, while signing is a first step, real benefits materialize on implementation of the agreement. Implementation is normally fraught with numerous challenges as it involves unlearning the old ways of facilitating and instituting control measures and learning the new ways.
E-commerce is providing individuals and SMEs with unprecedented opportunities to gain access to domestic and international markets. But not all countries in the Asia-Pacific region are reaping the benefits.