ESCAP, Lanka for sustainable development in Asia-Pacific

Shamshad AkhtarThe Asia-Pacific region is already undergoing growth transitions but it now “needs a transition from a growth-centric framework to sustainable development,” the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) said, as she called for changes in incentive, policy, regulation and enforcement backed by appropriate market frameworks, on the side-lines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York.

“In order to achieve sustainable results there has to be a decisive shift in governments and the private sector, from governing for business as usual to governing for transformation,” affirmed United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar at a joint side event held by ESCAP with the Government of Sri Lanka on ‘Planning for an Inclusive Transformation: a dialogue towards building scenarios for visions and pathways.’

“To enable this shift, countries require access to appropriate levels of finance and technology, effective regional networks and efficient governance structures. Essentially they require transformation capacities,” said Dr. Akhtar. “They must be in a position to undertake change management, coalition building and stakeholder engagement to achieve sustainable results,” she added.

Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife Sri Lanka and Chair of the Asia- Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) highlighted that as the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to establish a Ministry for Sustainable Development and as the current Chair of the APFSD, Sri Lanka is now in a unique leadership position to champion transformation to sustainable development.

“To ensure no one is left behind, we launched the national and provincial sustainable development engagement platforms, bringing together representation from political,administrative, local government, civil society, academia, business, development agencies and women and youth,” said Perera, adding that the Government of Sri Lanka will soon begin formulating regional sustainability plans that will provide key input to the APFSD Roadmap.

The panel comprising representatives from governments, United Nations agencies, international development organizations, civil society organizations and other stakeholders engaged in a moderated dialogue to help provide insight into building scenarios for the transformation in 2030 and beyond.

The panel concluded that a collective initiative is required to ensure that all countries and stakeholders feel a sense of ownership and therefore extend the necessary support in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Asia-Pacific region.