-Policymakers must work in key sectors, among important stakeholders, and across levels to make Asia-Pacific sustainable-
At the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), we have watched with growing concern as COVID-19 has brought tragedy and loss to much of the world. While the outbreak has made it more challenging to meet in person, it has also reaffirmed the need for the Asia-Pacific region to work together on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was in the spirit of collective action that IGES developed 14 key messages to help policymakers in the Asia-Pacific Region accelerate progress on the SDGs. The newly released messages, which draw from our research, are organised around six “entry points” from the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR). The messages call for changes in important sectors (energy and agriculture), among important stakeholders (cities and business) and across levels (from the individual [well-being] to the global [environmental] commons).
1. Human wellbeing and capabilities
- “A healthy planet is a necessary foundation for human physical, psychological, social, economic and emotional health and well-being, and is therefore critical for achieving all of the SDGs”.
- Policymakers need intuitive metrics and planning tools to translate “wellbeing” and “planetary boundaries” into concrete policy options.
2. Sustainable and just economies
- Governments possess a suite of regulatory, fiscal and other policy levers to promote sustainable and just economies.
- At the same time, many companies are coming to understand that the SDGs can improve their bottom line.
- Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and micro- and small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need better information and stronger incentives to incorporate SDGs into business plans and production processes.
3. Food systems and nutrition patterns
- Sustainable agriculture requires strategies promoting short-term changes in intensive land use practices and long-term transformations of consumption, production and dietary systems.
- Policymakers need coherent food waste policies and effective interagency coordination mechanisms to achieve food security objectives without jeopardising other SDGs.
4. Urban and peri-urban development
- Some cities’ willingness to prepare voluntary local reviews (VLRs) is commendable; peer-learning platforms such as VLR labs can help less advanced cities gain from the knowledge of front-runners.
- A circulating economic sphere offers a framework for improving resource management, revitalising local economies and resolving environmental problems that cut across rural-urban boundaries.
5. Energy decarbonisation with universal access
- Deep decarbonisation in the energy sector is critical to ensuring global warming stays below 1.5°C; a just transition is possible with supportive policy changes (i.e. reskilling of labour).
- Policymakers at all levels need to strengthen integration between the SDGs and climate policies.
6. Global environmental commons
- Solutions to marine plastics pollution require coordinated policy interventions at all stages of the plastics lifecycle as well as enhanced regional collaboration.
- Biodiversity informs and inspires technological innovation, but its potential to continue doing so is being undermined.
- Greater accountability in the VNR process would help address environmental commons problems.
With these important messages, IGES hopes to maintain the discussions about and support actions for attaining the SDGs in the region, despite the recent decision that APFSD will be held in an online format in May.
The full text of the key messages from IGES, as well as a detailed bibliography providing further sources of information, can be found here: