New Delhi: The tenth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) opened on March 27 in Bangkok with a resounding call for countries to make radical changes at the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda or risk evaporating their slim chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development is an annual, inclusive intergovernmental forum to support follow-up and review of progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. The forum provides a regional perspective on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by identifying regional trends and sharing best practices and lessons learned. Since 2014, the APFSD has brought governments, senior government and UN officials, youth, civil society, the private sector, and other stakeholders together to prepare for the HLPF and to support regional efforts to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
It is organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from March 27 to 30.
Here are the objectives of the APFSD:
- Conduct in-depth review of SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastrutcure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities) and 17 (Parnetships for the goals), whilst also considering the integrated, indivisible, and interlinked nature of all the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Examine how to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs by addressing the crises faced by the regions and ensuring that recovery is made resilient, inclusive, and sustainable.
- Support the presentation of voluntary national reviews for the 2023 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
- Discuss opportunities to strengthen linkages between national, regional, and global follow-up and review.
- Identify short, medium, and long-term solutions for attaining the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals.
United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said,
The data reveals a story that vulnerable people across the world know only too well: we are badly off track. There is reason for alarm – but I would like to emphasize that there is also reason for hope. Delivering on the promise of the SDGs is possible – and essential. It is the lack of progress on the SDGs that left us with punishing consequences of a riskier world,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. To emerge from these depths, we simply have to go to where it all started: Protecting our people, especially those furthest behind, ensuring gender equality, shock-proofing our economies, and preserving our planet. These all lie at the very core of the 2030 Agenda.
The report by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) states that the cost-of-living crisis has deprived 400 million people of safe and nutritious food in the Asia-Pacific region. Besides, climate related catastrophes, coupled with biodiversity loss and pollution are taking lives and causing immense hardship and suffering. The rise in food and energy prices have also left governments struggling to protect their people. Additionally, the discal space is constrained, the borrowing costs are sky-high and rising and debt burdens are unsustainable, the report further stated.
In the coming days, the APFSD will also undertake an in-depth review of the region’s progress on all the five SDGs. The recommendations from the regional Forum will feed into the global High-Level Political Forum and SDG Summit later this year.
President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Lachezara Stoeva urged Forum participants to be unfaltering in their assessment of the state of the SDGs in the region.
Policymakers need frank data and evidence-based diagnosis of the situation in order to develop impactful policies.
Kai Ra Cabaron from the National Alliance of the Urban Poor in the Philippines (KADAMAY), said,
Halfway through the 2030 Agenda, we are still very far from our goals as the systemic barrier of giving priority to profit over people’s rights and welfare is still at play. How can we accelerate development if its drivers are left behind?
Youth representative Prim Rajasurang Wongkrasaemongkol called for meaningful participation and inclusion at all levels of the decision-making process. He further said,
Give youth platforms and resources for meaningful engagement to foster leadership, innovation and critical thinking skills.
President of French Polynesia Edouard Fitch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Don Pramudwinai, and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Li Junhua were also present at the event.
At the forum, ESCAP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched the latest edition of the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership Report: Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals through Solutions at the Energy, Food and Finance Nexus.
The report points to solutions for confronting the multiple crises and regaining ground on the SDGs, from transforming agriculture towards climate resilience to accelerating a just energy transition and increasing the fiscal space and public investment towards the SDGs.
Since 2014, the APFSD has provided an annual and inclusive platform for countries to share regional best practices and lessons learnt, support the presentation of their voluntary national reviews, and assess progress made towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.