“Asia-Pacific takes stock of ambitious development targets”, written by the Heads of UNFPA and ESCAP

SDGs UN

António Guterres launched his strategy to finance the 2030 Agenda to put the world on a more sustainable path, on 24 September 2018, ahead of the General Assembly’s annual general debate.(United Nations, 2018)

This article was written for The European Sting by Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and Dr. Natalia Kanem, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The opinions expressed in this article belong to our distinguished writers.


Ministers and seniorpolicymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focuson population dynamics at a crucial time for the region. Their goal: to keeppeople and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development.They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing economic growthwith social imperatives, underpinned by rights and choices for all as enshrinedin the landmark Programme of Action stemming from the 1994 InternationalConference on Population and Development, or ICPD.

In the Programme of Action, diverse views on population, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development merged into a remarkable global consensus that placed individual dignity and human rights at the heart of development.

Truly revolutionary at the time, ICPD remains all the more urgent and relevant a quarter-century later, in this era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals.  Without ICPD we would not have the SDGs, and indeed they go hand in hand. The ICPD is a dedicated vehicle through which we can – and will – address, achieve and fulfill the SDGs.

How well have we responded to trends such as population ageing and international migration? How successful have we been in ensuring optimal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all, including the right to choose when or whether to get married and when or whether to have children, and how many? How well have we done in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment, and upholding the rights of the most vulnerable among us? Where should our efforts be refocused to leave no one behind?

Asia and the Pacific has much to celebrate. The region remains the engine of global growth and at the forefront of the global fight against poverty. It is now home to half the world’s middle class. The share of the population living in poverty has dropped considerably although it is still unacceptably high. People are living, longer healthier lives. Rights-based family planning has contributed to considerable economic success and women’s empowerment. And we are on track to achieve universal education by 2030.

Yet for all this growth, considerable injustices remain. On its current trajectory, the region will fall short of achieving the 2030 Agenda. In several areas we are heading in altogether the wrong direction. Inequalities within and between countries are widening. Some 1.2 billion people live in poverty of which 400 million live in extreme poverty. Lack of decent job opportunities and access to essential services are perpetuating injustice across generations.

At the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we are keen to shine the spotlight on three key issues where regional commitment is vital.

First, we need to respond to the unprecedented population changes unfolding across the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries are facing a rapidly ageing population. The proportion of people above the age of sixty is expected to more than double by 2050. Effectively meeting the needs of an ageing society and ensuring healthy and productive lives must be a priority. This requires a life cycle approach – from pregnancy and childbirth, through adolescence and adulthood, to old age – ensuring that all people are allowed to fulfil their socioeconomic potential, underpinned by individual rights and choices.

Equally, there is a strong case for strengthening Asia-Pacific’s response to international migration. Migrants can, when allowed, contribute significantly to development. However, we know that migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. So, our ambition is for discussions this week to build further momentum in support of safe, orderly and regular migration to fully harness its development benefits.  

Second, there is clear evidence the region must spend more on social protection, as well as on health care and education. Today, social protection is the preserve of a few, rather than a right for all. As a result, 60 per cent of our population are at risk of being trapped in vulnerability or pushed into poverty by sickness, disability, unemployment or old age, often underpinned by gender inequality. The “Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific: Poorly Protected”, which ESCAP will publish later this week, sets out why expanding social protection is the most effective means of reducing poverty, strengthening rights and making vulnerable groups less exposed. Many women, migrants, older persons and rural communities would also benefit. Our evidence suggests it could even end extreme poverty in several countries by 2030.

Third, we need to invest in generating disaggregated data to tell us who is being left behind to ensure our response to population dynamics is targeted and credible. Availability of data on social and demographic issues lag far behind anything related to the economy. Millions of births remain unregistered, leading to the denial of many basic rights, particularly to women and girls. Of the 43 countries which conducted a census between 2005 and 2014, only 16 have reliable data on international migration. With the 2020 round of censuses upon us, we will be redoubling our efforts to close these data gaps by strengthening new partnerships for data capacity and working with governments and other partners to translate data into policy and action.  

The Midterm Review of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development as well as the Committee on Social Development provide the region with an opportunity to speak with one voice on population and development issues. ESCAP and UNFPA stand united in their commitment to supporting their Member States to build and strengthen a regional response to issues that will shape the future for generations to come.

We look to this week’sdiscussions to galvanize countries behind the ambition and vision that linkICPD and the SDGs and accelerate work to leave no one behind in Asia and thePacific.

About the authors

Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Dr. Natalia Kanem is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

 

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This is how much people would pay to use some of the world’s most popular apps

Why the UN is investigating poverty in the United Kingdom

THE COMMITTEES: ‘All roads lead to the Fifth’

EU migration deal welcomed by UN agencies

World Maritime Day: Commissioner Vălean calls for support and safe return of seafarers

To solve the climate crisis, we need an investment revolution

Eurozone economy desperately needs internally driven growth

Autonomous vehicles could clog city centres: a lesson from Boston

“Decent working conditions for the young health workforce: what are the challenges and can we find solutions?”

“A global threat lies ahead worsened after the EU’s green light to the Bayer-Monsanto merger”, a Sting Exclusive by the President of Slow Food

Brexit poses ‘particular risk’ to British people in poverty: UN independent expert

A digital tax sounds like a great idea. Here’s why it might not be universally popular

5 ways urban transport could step up a gear for women

Drugs cost too much. There is a better way to fund medical innovation

Boris ‘single-handed’ threatens mainland Europe; can he afford a no-deal Brexit?

Tragedy of Mediterranean deaths continues, as seven drown, 57 rescued: UN migration agency

Act now to end violence, Zeid urges Nicaraguan authorities

A Sting Exclusive: “Cybersecurity: Why consumer products must be looked at urgently”, by BEUC’s Deputy Director General

Banks promise easing of credit conditions in support of the real economy

DR Congo: ‘New waves of violence’ likely, UN warns, unless State acts to prevent intercommunal reprisals

Ebola: EU announces new funds to strengthen preparedness in Burundi

Victims of terrorism remembered

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

The European Sting @ Mobile World Congress 2014, Creating What’s Next for the World. Can EU Policy follow?

ECB’s billions fortify south Eurozone except Greece; everybody rushes to invest in euro area bonds zeroing their yields

People, not technology, shape the future of manufacturing

Parliament in favour of lifting visa requirements for Kosovars

Africa Forum aims to boost business, reduce costs, help countries trade out of poverty

EU and Australia launch talks for a broad trade agreement

The horrific trend of the anti-vaccine movement in Turkey

FROM THE FIELD: Going the extra mile with vaccines

Luxembourg has achieved high levels of growth and well-being but must do more to preserve and share prosperity

Reducing deforestation means getting serious about environmental crime

Entrepreneurship and strategic planning: the enabler

4 simple ways to make your holiday season more sustainable

Yanukovych attempts a violent and deadly cleansing of Kiev’s center

‘Revved up climate action’ needed to counter ‘prolonged’ and deadly storms like Cyclone Idai: Guterres

Here are 10 of the most urgent health challenges we’ll face in the 2020s, according to WHO

Women Win in the West

This wall of shoes is for the women killed by domestic violence

School closures triple in Central and Western Africa as education comes under fire

COP25: Global investors urge countries to meet climate action goals

Coronavirus (COVID-19): truth and myth on personal risk perception

Why building consumer trust is the key to unlocking AI’s true potential

UN’s Grandi slams ‘toxic language of politics’ aimed at refugees, migrants

Budget MEPs approve €104.2 m in EU aid to Greece, Spain, France and Portugal

UN experts decry torture of Rakhine men and boys held incommunicado by Myanmar’s military

Can free trade deliver cheaper renewable energy? Ask Mexico

How private investment can boost education access and quality in the digital economy

A top economist shares 3 ways leaders can help economies recover

This AI trash can is designed to stop you wasting food

4 essential qualities for digital leaders

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ford trumpets new in-vehicle system, “fundamentally rethinks” transportation

MEPs question whether the new Migration Pact will bring about real change

Force used against protestors in Gaza ‘wholly disproportionate’ says UN human rights chief

Compensation for damages by the State for infringement of EU law: the European Commission refers Spain to the Court of Justice for its rules on the compensation for damages incurred by private parties

Gender is where the feminist and LGBTI movements meet. Here’s why

UK economy in dire straits: leading banks now officially plan to Brexit too

European Parliament the most trusted EU institution

Refugee crisis update: EU seeks now close cooperation with Africa while Schulz is shocked to witness live one single wreck full of immigrants

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s