Sustainable development

Commentary, Online Exclusive Feature / 2020

Sustainable development

Not only is there a twin health and economic crisis, but the long-standing international order has been weakened at the very time we need it to underpin our response to climate change and ease rising geo-political tensions. We need to reimagine how to strengthen cooperation between governments, businesses and our communities in Asia-Pacific, to build back as a stronger, smarter and anti-fragile region.

When the immediate health crisis of COVID-19 passes, we must find a new way to work together as a region and contribute to global solutions, putting no nation first and no nation last. We need pragmatic solutions to these challenges, to keep what works and to address what won’t be sustainable in the context of the new normal. It is in our immediate and long-term interest to re-examine our old business models driven by profit lines and without internalisation of social and environmental responsibilities.

In building back better, we must ensure our economies become more efficient at protecting the environment and strengthening communities. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an integrated vision of what we must do. Our national development plans need to provide the road maps for how.  We can succeed if we harness the collective leadership of governments, businesses and civil society. This is not just about doing the right thing, it is about survival.

If we do not act, climate change could become an existential threat to the next generation.

Investing in more efficient and sustainable infrastructure and the new industries that will ensure Asia’s future prosperity will require a massive amount of finance. Rebuilding after the COVID-19 crisis offers us an opportunity to embed more sustainable and inclusive solutions as we go forward, as outlined in ESCAP’s Framework.

This is about much more than just shifting towards renewable energy or more efficient consumption, as important as they are. We also need to realign the trading and investment systems, build better food supply chains and smartly design cities, transport and logistics, taking much more advantage of new technologies and ensuring the benefits reach everyone. Asia, it’s our century and the cooperation must be our choice.

Above article is an excerpt from The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), United Nations. Click here to view the full article.

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