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Asia-Pacific region not on track to achieve any SDGs by 2030: UN report | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: The Asia-Pacific region, comprising over 50 countries including India, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, is not on track to achieve any of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030, said a UN report.
Under the SDGs, adopted by all UN member countries in 2015, the governments across the globe are expected to work on multiple targets to end poverty, improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests.
The report on SDG progress, released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on Tuesday, shows that the Asia-Pacific region as a whole fell short of its 2020 milestones even before entering the global pandemic. “On its current trajectory, the region may achieve less than 10% of the SDG targets,” it said, flagging how the region is on track to reach only nine out of 104 measurable targets by 2030 at the current pace of progress.
The report, however, noted that the region in the last decade has “made extraordinary progress in good health and well-being, which may partly explain its relative success in reducing the health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its population.”
As far as south Asian countries are concerned, the sub-region within the Asia-Pacific made most of its progress on certain goals such as ‘end poverty’, ‘zero hunger’ and ‘good health and well-being’, but has regressed on “reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, climate action, life below water and peace, justice and strong institutions”.
Referring to sub-regional picture for South Asian countries, Nagesh Kumar, director of UNESCAP’s South and South-West Asia Office, underlined that the sub-region was facing challenges due to natural disasters, lack of access to basic water and sanitation services (with 62% of people in rural areas lacking access) and inadequate government spending on education, health services and social protection.
On air pollution front, the report, referring to satellite data, said the air quality had improved in the first half of 2020 in many countries of the region with northern India reporting air pollution at a 20-year low level while New Delhi and nearby areas registering a significant 50% reduction of aerosol optical depth (correlating to fine particulate matter, PM2.5 and PM10) in April last year compared to 2019.
“Containment measures associated to the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, with a decrease in global daily carbon dioxide emissions of 17% in April 2020 compared to April 2019,” said the SDG progress report, noting that the pattern had been evident in India, China, Japan and Russia.
The drop in air pollution levels and greenhouse gas emissions, however, turned out to be short-lived as the countries in the region have regressed on ‘climate action’ front and also on their efforts to conserve ‘life below water’ – one of the SDGs which is meant for sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.
Underlining other humanitarian crisis, the report flagged that the pandemic-driven economic slowdown may push 13 million additional child marriages globally between 2020 and 2030. Besides, it also noted that around 1.5 billion children globally were affected by school closures at the height of country lockdowns.
As part of its commitment to support countries with national level follow-up and review of the SDGs, the ESCAP has developed a ‘national SDG tracker’ tool for countries looking to replicate the progress assessment found in the report. “National governments can use the tool to produce snapshots of progress towards the ambitions of the 2030 agenda,” it said.
Key messages from Asia-Pacific region:
* Covid-19 pandemic may double the no. of poor people
* There are 640 million poor people in Asia-Pacific Region
* An additional 636 million vulnerable people may turn poor
* About 1.3 billion people in 107 countries have been living in poverty (22% of the total population of those countries)
* Almost half of them (640 million) live in Asia and the Pacific, with 530 million in South and South-West Asia alone
(Multidimensional Poverty Index is calculated based on 10 indicators pertain to health, education and standard of living)
* Unemployment increased by 15 million in the region in 2020
* In April 2020, lockdown measures impacted some 829 million informal workers
* Compared to 2019, workers in the region lost 7.1% of their labour income in 2020 (more than $ 1 trillion)
* Out of 104 measurable targets, the region is on track to reach only nine by 2030 at the current pace of progress

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