Global crises further threaten progress on SDGs: ADB-UN report

March 27, 2023
Photo: UNDP

Bangkok, Thailand — The convergence of multiple global crises is further jeopardizing Asia and the Pacific’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, says a report released today by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

The polycrisis – referring to major economic and social crises that include severe effects of climate change, impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine – has caused severe disruptions to energy, food, and finance systems in the region. It has caused new and intensified shocks and stresses, especially for the most vulnerable groups, according to the report: Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals through Solutions at the Energy, Food and Finance Nexus.

“The interplay between energy, food, and finance has exacerbated these disruptions, hitting the most vulnerable the hardest. This period of polycrisis has exerted immense pressure on government budgets but if the tough and right decisions are made we can anticipate and address the multi-pronged challenges in our region,” said Kanni Wignaraja UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. “This is about mending or renewing social contracts, in other words – the trust - between governments and people.”

“It is the lack of progress on the SDGs that left us with punishing consequences of a riskier world,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. She added, “To emerge from these depths, we simply have to go to where it all started: Protecting our people, especially those furthest behind, ensuring gender equality, shock-proofing our economies, and preserving our planet. These all lie at the very core of the 2030 Agenda.”

“These crises created a perfect storm that has derailed the global economy, the livelihoods of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific, and progress towards the SDGs,” said ADB Managing Director General Woochong Um. “However, this could be a historic turning point towards a more secure future, initiating renewed momentum to transform food and energy systems. Emerging from the polycrisis and building systemic resilience will require countries to respond to these immediate vulnerabilities while also maintaining focus on longer-term development objectives.”

The report notes that without substantial progress on climate change mitigation, climate-related natural disasters will become more frequent and extreme. Preparing Asia and the Pacific to navigate ongoing and future crises will require coordinated efforts from governments and non-state actors at regional, subregional, national, subnational, and local levels, to bring about inclusive transformation of energy, food, and finance systems.

To build more sustainable and inclusive energy and food systems, the report calls for scaling up technology, policy frameworks, and social innovations to increase efficiency and yields, reduce environmental degradation, and add value for farmers and consumers.

Given current fiscal constraints, innovative financing solutions will be critical, the report says. To boost investments in the SDGs, governments need to recalibrate public financial management by aligning SDGs to national budget processes and exploring new sources of revenue. Scaling up private sector financing for the SDGs is crucial, including by promoting the use of the SDG framework for impact measurement in investments. Regional and subregional initiatives such as lowering trade barriers will also promote food and energy security.

Download the report


Media Contacts

Cedric Monteiro | UNDP Asia Pacific Communications Specialist | | Bangkok