Tech, finance, data will be pivotal to Asia SDGs

Copyright: Robin Hammond / Panos

Speed read

  • Report outlined post-2015 agenda and its benefits to the most marginalised groups
  • It noted some Asian subregions and countries fell short of the MDG targets
  • Technology must reconcile economic growth with environmental and social objectives

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[BANGKOK] Technology, finance and statistics will play a pivotal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the Asia-Pacific region.

This is the key message of the new report jointly published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The report, based on a series of consultations with governments, civil society and academia, deals with how the region can embark on the post-2015 agenda in a way that extends the benefits of development to the most marginalised groups and regions.

While the document draws a positive picture of the region's drive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it also stressed that some subregions and countries fell short of the MDG targets.

Between 1990 and 2012, the proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 per day fell by more than two-thirds — from 53 to 14 per cent — and is projected to fall further to 12 per cent by the end of 2015.

Still, as of 2012, more than one-fifth of children aged below five were underweight, and 21 million children were not enrolled in primary school, the report said. On top of that, rural-urban disparities persist, especially in terms of access to sanitation.

The report suggested technology has the potential to transform the region in a positive way, but governments must look beyond strategies for technology transfer from the more advanced regions.

“For the implementation of the post-2015 agenda, countries in the Asia-Pacific region can reassess their development path. They have an opportunity to identify the technologies that, combined with science and innovation, can help reconcile economic growth and profit motives with environmental and social objectives,” said the report.

Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP deputy regional director for Asia-Pacific, tells SciDev.Net that technology will play a major role in helping bring about solutions to development challenges.

“For technology to be sustainable and effective, it has to be appropriate, and in many situations, the appropriate technology comes from indigenous knowledge,” Rosellini says, referring to traditional agriculture practices such as the use of ducks instead of herbicides for weeding paddy fields.

“The challenge is to identify these technologies and make them available and known to others as well,” he adds.

The report emphasised, in the years ahead, finance will be critical to sustainable development. Potential funds will come from a diverse range of sources: public, private and joint financing options, from both domestic and international sources. Moreover, finance will be vital to addressing climate change and engaging in mitigation strategies.

The report also highlighted the need for high quality data to inform policymaking. It emphasised that only disaggregated statistics will allow governments to monitor development and identify variances across geographical areas and socio-economic groups.

>Link to full report of UNESCAP, UNDP, ADB

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's South-East Asia & Pacific desk.