BANGKOK, Thailand, May 23 (IPS) – Today’s Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads – for a breakthrough or further breakthrough towards a greener, better, secure future more complete.
Since the establishment of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in 1947, the region has made extraordinary progress, emerging as a beacon of global economic growth. demand, lifting millions of people out of poverty.
However, as ESCAP celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, we find ourselves facing our largest joint test of the overlapping and stratifying effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflicts raging crisis and the climate crisis.
Few people have escaped the effects of the pandemic, with 85 million people pushed back into extreme poverty, millions more losing their jobs or livelihoods, and a generation of children and young people lacking valuable time. for education and training.
As the pandemic rages and rages across countries, the world continues to face the grim consequences of not being able to keep temperature rises below 1.5°C – and further environmental degradation. nature. Throughout 2021 and 2022, countries across Asia and the Pacific are once again subjected to an unending string of disasters, with climate change increasing in frequency and intensity.
Recently, the rapidly evolving crisis in Ukraine will have wide-ranging socioeconomic impacts, with higher fuel and food prices, increasing food insecurity and hunger across the globe. whole area.
Rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has come at a heavy price, and the convergence of these three crises exposed fault lines in a very short time. Unfortunately, the worst losers are those with the fewest resources to endure hardship. This disproportionate pressure on the poor and the most vulnerable is increasing and increasing inequality in both income and opportunity.
Dangerous situation. Many communities are nearing tipping points that will no longer be able to recover. But it’s not too late yet.
This area is dynamic and adaptive.
In this richer but riskier world, we need more crisis preparedness policies to protect our most vulnerable populations and transform the Asia-Pacific region. back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as the 2030 target year draws closer – our analysis shows that we are 35 years behind and will only reach the Target by 2065.
To do so, we must protect people and planet, exploit digital opportunities, trade and invest together, mobilize financial resources, and manage our debt.
The first task of governments should be to protect the most vulnerable groups – by promoting universal health and social protection systems. At the same time, governments, civil society and the private sector should act to preserve our precious planet, and mitigate and adapt to climate change while protecting people from its devastation. of disaster.
For many measures, governments can exploit technological innovations. Human activities are gradually becoming “digital by default”. To turn digital divides into digital dividends, governments should incentivize a broader and more robust digital infrastructure, and improve access, along with the education and training needed. needed to increase knowledgeable Internet use.
Much of investment in services will be based on sustainable economic growth, driven by fair international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). The region is currently the largest source and recipient of global FDI inflows, which is especially important in the wake of the fiscal tightening pandemic recovery environment.
While trade links have evolved into a complex chain of bilateral and regional agreements, there is scope to further reduce trade and investment transaction costs through formalities. Simplify, digitize and climate-smart strategies. Such changes are proving to be beneficial business strategies. For example, fully digital facilitation can cut trade costs by more than 13% on average.
Governments can create enough fiscal space to allow more investment in sustainable development. Additional financial resources can be increased through progressive tax reform, innovative financial instruments and more effective debt management. Instruments such as green or sustainability bonds, and debt-to-development arrangements, are likely to have the highest impact on inclusivity and sustainability.
It takes considerable effort to anticipate what lies ahead. In everything we do, we must listen to and work with young and old, fostering solidarity between generations. And women must be at the center of crisis preparedness policy action.
This week, the Commission is expected to agree on a common agenda for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific that embodies the region’s aspirations to move forward together by learning. and work together.
Over the past seven and a half decades, ESCAP has been an important source of know-how and support for the governments and peoples of Asia Pacific. We remain ready to serve in the implementation of this shared agenda.
To quote United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “The choices we make or don’t make today will shape our future. We won’t have this chance again. ”
Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana He is the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.
IPS UN Office
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