Asia and the Pacific’s phenomenal development has been a story of rapid urbanization. As centres of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunity, cities have drawn talent from across our region and driven economic growth which has transformed our societies. In southeast Asia alone, cities generate 65 percent of the region’s GDP. Yet the ongoing scale of urbanization is a considerable challenge, one which puts huge pressure on essential public services, housing availability and the environment.
Equal rights have been demanded and promised for generations, but last year a shift occurred in the women’s movement.
The way energy is produced, distributed and used causes environmental damage – most visibly air pollution - that in turn harms people’s health. It is also one of the major drivers of climate change. Recognising this, countries are urgently looking to shift to more sustainable energy, but the transition has so far been slow. Put simply, our future depends on our ability to decarbonize our economies by the end of the century.
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.