Investments to achieve Sustainable Development Goals pushed

Asia-Pacific developing countries should make additional investments in people to allow them achieve sustainable development by 2030, and boost long-term growth of the regional economy, according to an annual report issued by the United Nation’s regional arm.

The report, Survey 2019: Ambitions beyond growth, released by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), estimated an additional investment of USD1.5 trillion per year to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the region.

The amount is equivalent to five percent of these countries’ combined gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018, or about four percent in terms of the annual average GDP for the period 2016-2030.

It said people and planet-related interventions would account for most of the additional investment, with USD669 billion needed to support basic human rights and develop human capacities, and USD590 billion to secure humanity’s future and live in harmony with nature.

The remaining USD196 billion would be for enabling infrastructure.

“For a region as large and diverse as Asia and the Pacific, the composition of the investment gap would vary considerably across subregions and country groups,” it said. “Given their high vulnerability to climate change, the Pacific island developing States would need additional investments in disaster-resilient infrastructure.”

The ESCAP report pointed out that these “ambitions beyond growth” are largely affordable for most countries in the region given available public and private resources.

In line with the 2030 Agenda, it identifies “high leverage” investments and evaluates the implications of the national budget composition for the overall attainment of the Goals.

“…Single policy simulations suggest that investments in road infrastructure and climate change adaptation are high leverage points for the Philippines, in line with the country’s national development plan,” the report said.

“Paved roads improve access to inputs and markets and thereby contribute to productivity growth in the agricultural, industrial and services sectors, which in turn increases the available financial resources for the Government,” it added.

Further, the report said economic policies should support structural transformation towards sustainable development.

“The region’s medium- to long-term prospects depend on structural transformation and broad-based productivity growth,” it noted.

The 2019 Survey likewise cautioned against countries shifting from an agriculture-based economy to one in which services play a dominant role, bypassing the manufacturing sector.

“New frontier technologies may reduce the scope for industrialization in “late entrant” developing countries, while high-value-added services require skilled workers. This is all the more reason to invest in people and enabling infrastructure,” it added.

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