Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2019: Ambitions beyond growth

Flagship4 Apr 2019

The relatively stable economic performance of Asia and the Pacific conceals increasing downside risks to regional progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In an era of uncertainty, bold and wise policies are needed to make growth inclusive and sustainable, i.e., “putting people and planet first.

A comprehensive assessment of the investment needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals in the region by 2030 estimates an additional $1.5 trillion per year to end poverty and hunger, provide basic health care, a quality education, enabling infrastructure and clean energy for all, and for climate action and living in harmony with nature. These “ambitions beyond growth” are largely affordable for most countries in the region, given available public and private resources. Strong development partnerships and regional cooperation are essential to ensure that all countries complete this important journey.

Chapter 1: Beyond economic growth

The first chapter of the Survey for 2019 underlines the social and environmental costs of the impressive economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region over the past 50 years.
Chapter 1

Reducing the wide economic, social and environmental deficits in the region is key to implementing the bold and transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This requires a change in mindset and a move away from a single-minded emphasis on economic growth.

Countries encountering high and growing levels of inequality and environmental degradation have choices to make. The chapter points out that the comprehensive assessment by the Survey of investment needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific offers policymakers a blueprint for systematically charting out a path to implement the 2030 Agenda.


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Chapter 2: Economic outlook and policy challenges

Chapter 2

The near-term economic outlook for the region is stable with a moderate rise in inflation forecast for developing countries in the region in 2019. The greatest risk facing the region is trade tensions, which can have economic, social and environmental consequences.

Elevated levels of private debt in several economies in the region could affect financial stability and eventually harm economic growth, requiring a prudent approach to monetary policy.

Regional and interregional policy coordination is critical to maximize benefits and minimize risks from new technologies.

Growth in the region has not been people- and planet-friendly with rising income inequality, environmental degradation and increased climate risks. It is time to use fiscal policies to step up investment in sustainable development for short-term growth as well as long-term prosperity.

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Chapter 3: The future we want: Is it affordable?

Chapter 3

The third chapter estimates the financial cost of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by investing in people and planet, which will also realize basic human rights and human capacities, secure humanity’s future and enable us to live in harmony with nature.

It calculates the annual funding needs to end extreme poverty and malnutrition, provide basic health care, quality education and an enabling infrastructure for all in the region by 2030, without breaching planetary limits. It finds that these investments are largely affordable for the Asia-Pacific region although countries with special needs will require help.

Mobilizing the additional financial resources needed to bridge this investment gap requires a concerted effort harnessing public resources, leveraging the private sector and promoting development partnerships and regional cooperation.

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Chapter 4: Towards a better world

Chapter 4

The concluding chapter notes that the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda provide a clear blueprint for raising ambitions beyond economic growth. It calls for people and countries to work together to ensure no one is left behind in this journey towards sustainable development. It proposes to move away from a model of profit maximization to one that puts purpose at its core.


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