In 2015 and 2016, five landmark UN agreements were synchronously adopted, culminating in the New Urban Agenda in October 2016. The 7th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum convened by ESCAP and UN-Habitat in Penang, Malaysia from 15 to 17 October 2019 sought to answer what these really mean for urbanists like myself, working for cities in a multilateral institution.
“The 2030 Agenda is coming to life”, declared the Secretary General at the opening of the first SDG Summit, a quadrennial event for the follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As leaders from Asia – Pacific took the floor, they highlighted country progress of SDG implementation and reaffirmed commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda. Statements reflected different approaches across the region. Yet all converged on one priority: accelerated actions and transformative pathways.
Imagine going through the day without consuming or using some product, service, data, technology, personal contact, or payment which has not – at least in some part – crossed one or more national borders before reaching you. We live in a globalized world where connections across borders are no longer just between governments or businesses but increasingly person to person. Many of us would have a hard time to adjust to life without these benefits from globalization.
In 1814, George Stephenson constructed the first steam locomotive that led to the Industrial Revolution. Nearly 200 years later, railways are at a critical juncture in its evolution as means of transport. As railways are environmentally friendly and energy efficient, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has provided a new window of opportunity to boost railway transport.
For the first time in history, remittances are expected to become the largest source of external financing for low- and middle-income countries worldwide. Remittances are expected to reach $550 billion by 2019, well above foreign direct investment and official development assistance.
I have always been mesmerized by ancient Egyptian civilizations. The fascination became more profound when I learned about Hatshepsut—the first female Pharaoh, who ruled Egypt 3,500 years ago. Yet, the ending of this Pharaoh story is anything but pleasant. History reveals that her tomb was demolished as an attempt to wipe her from memory. The most probable reason? Well, this Pharaoh happened to be a woman, and Pharaohs could not be female.
Currently, approximately 300 million tons of oil-based plastic waste are produced every year. A significant amount of plastic waste ends up in the oceans, having a detrimental effect on marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Most of this waste originates from the Asia-Pacific region.
The Asia-Pacific region has grown at a tremendous rate in the last two decades, contributing to 60 per cent of global growth. But this has come at a high cost of rising inequality and deteriorating environment. The larger question facing the region home to 4 out of 7 people in the world, 5 out of 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change and 97 out of 100 most air polluted cities is: Are there trade-offs between economic growth and environmental health?
As we are celebrating the International Day of Older Persons today, we recognize that population ageing is a human success story, a story of longer and often healthier lives of the world’s people. The many faces of older persons that we see in Asia and in the Pacific, and, indeed, all over the world, attest to this fact. Still, however, ageing is considered a threat. There is talk about the “burden of ageing”, exploding healthcare costs, and concerns about plummeting economic growth due to the shrinking labour force.