IF the current pace of progress in moving toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is maintained, it will take over four decades to attain the goals, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Unescap).
In a hybrid briefing on Wednesday, Unescap Statistics Division Director Rachael Beaven said the average progress toward achieving all SDGs has increased but at the slow pace of 14.4 percent in 2022.
The pace of progress in 2017 was only at 4.4 percent. In 2021, the pace of progress was already slow, and Unescap initially estimated that it would take 35 years to meet the SDGs.
“The rate of progress is slowing down. Indeed, based on the current rate, we should expect to achieve the SDGs in another 42 years,” Beaven said in a presentation. “We can see clearly that we are not on track to achieving any of the 17 goals by 2030.”
In 2022, the areas of greatest progress for the Asia-Pacific region were affordable and clean energy (Goal 7) and industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9).
Progress towards achieving Goal 7 was largely driven by achievements in access to electricity and international support for clean and renewable energy, while there was little progress in the share of renewable energy consumption.
Progress towards achieving Goal 9 was driven by successes in mobile network coverage and total official flows for infrastructure development in the least developed countries.
However, progress towards climate action (Goal 13) is slipping away. The region is both a victim of the impact of climate change and a perpetrator of climate change, with a responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Countries are not on track to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The region is also regressing on Goal 13 owing to the increase in deaths and missing persons attributed to disasters.
The report also showed there are certain country leaders when it comes to achieving specific goals. Based on the report, the Philippines was actually identified as the regional leader in achieving SDG 12 on responsible consumption and production.
But even under this goal, the Philippines is not on track to achieve certain indicators and is also regressing in meeting other indicators.
The country is off track in attaining the indicator on material footprint which is increasing as opposed to the goal of decreasing while in hazardous waste, instead of decreasing, the progress is slow.
In terms of reducing domestic material consumption, the country is regressing since there was an increase to 7.8 tons per capita from 7.2 tons per capita.
Another indicator where the country is regressing is the implementation of standard accounting tools to monitor the economic and environmental aspects of tourism. The country used to have two but now, there is only one.
“While there are impressive national accomplishments across the 17 Goals, none of the countries in the region are on track to reach them and overall achievement is much lower than anticipated for the midpoint,” underscored Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.
“In developed and developing countries alike, persistent data gaps remain. Governments must renew their commitments to producing relevant, timely, granular, high-quality information to monitor and review the march towards the SDGs,” she added.
An annual flagship publication, in partnership with seven other UN agencies, the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2023 uses the latest data for global SDG indicators to determine where additional effort is needed in the region and where momentum for future progress is building.
This year’s report provides further analysis on Covid-19 impacts on sustainable development, the progress in countries with special situations as well as recommendations to bridge data gaps.