May 27, 2024

Regional sustainable development forums have convened for the Asia-Pacific and European regions, completing the series of preparatory events in each region ahead of the 2022 UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) took place from 28-31 March 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand, followed by the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region, from 6-7 April held in Geneva, Switzerland and virtually.

Both Forums included dedicated discussions on the five SDGs that have been selected for in-depth review during the 2022 HLPF: SDG 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The Asia-Pacific Forum launched the 2022 edition of the region’s SDG progress report, which focused on widening disparities as a result of COVID-19. It shows that the need to reach those who are furthest behind has never been greater, as their vulnerabilities have only increased. Those groups include women, persons with disabilities, rural populations and poorer households.

The report finds that the Goals are moving “further out of reach” for the Asia-Pacific region, as progress has slowed down significantly. At the current pace, the SDGs would be achieved by 2065 rather than 2030. On two Goals related to the climate crisis, the region has regressed: SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action).

At Europe’s RFSD, organized by UNECE, the opening session highlighted that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “radically changed” sustainable development prospects in Europe, according to UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. The session also featured a keynote address by a member of the independent group of scientists who will author the 2023 edition of the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), which is published every four years.

Åsa Persson, Stockholm Environment Institute and IGS member, said that:

  • Long-term net zero climate targets have become the norm for countries, and many cities, regions and companies also set targets.
  • The GSDR is expected to include chapters on: Setting the stage: Status of SDG progress; Accelerating transformations towards the SDGs; Tools for sustainable development; Science, policy and society for SDGs.
  • The GSDR writing process is underway, along with consultations at the global and regional levels. The authors will brief UN Member States on the report during the 2022 HLPF in July. In 2023, they will issue an advance draft for comments, and present the final report to Heads of State and Government during the SDG Summit in September 2023.

The IGS issued a call for examples of actions that have successfully applied the “levers” identified in the 2019 GSDR, that could be scaled up or transferred to other contexts or regions.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed announced that a High-level Panel on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index has begun work and aims to finalize the index by August 2022. The index will be part of revising criteria for concessional financing, she explained.

The annual SDG progress report on Europe, released ahead of the RFSD, provides an analysis using the same methodology as the 2021 report, in order to compare progress over time. It shows that the region is on track to achieve only 26 of 169 SDG targets by 2030, and time is running out to correct course. Moreover, official statistics are unable to measure 40{b930f8fc61da1f29cba34a8cbe30670691f63878f9c98a2d7d5d6527da1fb8f3} of the 169 targets.

As in Asia-Pacific, in the UNECE region, progress has slowed on climate-related targets, including SDG target 12.c on reducing fossil fuel subsidies – which is now off track for achievement by 2030. In addition, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the UNECE region’s economies in transition continue to increase, and among UNECE developed countries, emissions are decreasing but not quickly enough to meet 2030 targets (SDG target 13.2). [ESCAP press release on progress report] [ESCAP press release on opening session] [UN news on APFSD] [Publication: Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2022: Widening disparities amid COVID-19] [UNECE press release ahead of Forum] [UNECE press release on SDG progress report] [UNECE press release on Forum closing] [GSDR author presentation]

Forums for Asia-Pacific, Europe Complete Regional Reviews ahead of HLPF