ASEAN countries’ environmental policies for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Environment, Development and Sustainability所収

This study’s objective is to examine how ASEAN countries reported their environment-related policies for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), and a dataset of their environmental policies was developed. This is a necessary first step in analyzing the reasons for insufficient progress on the environmental dimension of the SDGs, since policies are key means of implementation. Previous studies of SDG progress and VNRs examined many aspects such as achievement levels, indicators, data, governance, and VNR preparation procedures, but surprisingly, there has been little discussion of countries’ actual policy efforts. Progress on the SDGs’ environmental dimensions is widely considered insufficient, including in Asia. This study showed that insufficient progress on the environmental dimension of the SDGs is not due to a lack of environmental policies or a lower prioritization of policies for environmental SDG targets. ASEAN countries included almost 600 concrete environment-related policies in their VNRs, widely distributed among most SDGs, accounting for about 40 percent of their total reported SDG-related policies. The number of environmental policies was not closely related to GDP, GDP per capita, or VNR date. Many policies appeared substantial, including national action plans, strategies, laws, and regulations, not just small projects or programs. However, some major existing environmental policies, for example on air pollution, were usually not included in the VNRs. Further research is needed to explore other possible factors such as insufficient policy implementation or effectiveness, which this study could not examine. This study’s environmental policy dataset provides the necessary baseline for future research on policy implementation and effectiveness, especially to help future studies identify ASEAN countries’ environmental policies in specific areas such as climate, energy, or water. This will also facilitate comparative analysis.