The SDG Forum is organised annually as the subregional preparatory meetings for the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) at the regional level and the ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the global level. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), led by its South and South-West Asia Subregional Office, has been organizing these sub-regional forums in collaboration with Member States, stakeholders and partners since 2017. The Forum facilitates dialogue and deliberations between Government officials, civil society, think-tanks, experts and other stakeholders on the themes of the annual APFSD and the HLPF, providing a unique opportunity to share information on subregional implementation efforts, highlight subregional priorities and good practices. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum feed into regional and global processes, including the abovementioned APFSD and HLPF.
This year’s UNESCAP's Sixth South and South-West Asia Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals is being held alongside the Sustainable Development Policy Institute’s (SDPI) 25th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) in Islamabad, Pakistan.
The Decade of Action for Achieving the 2030 Agenda has been severely tested by compounding crises from the COVID-19 Pandemic and war in Ukraine, also heavily impacting countries and the people of South and South-West Asia. UNESCAP’s flagship SDG progress report of 2022 finds that the South and South-West Asia subregion is not on track to reach any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. Though progress has been made on some goals, the pace is slow. The fastest progress has been made towards life on land (Goal 15), no poverty (Goal 1) and good health and well-being (Goal 3). Meanwhile, the subregion is regressing on sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11), responsible consumption and production (Goal 12) and climate action (Goal 13). Concerted efforts and actions from all stakeholders are needed to accelerate progress towards the 2030 goals. ESCAP Resolution 77/1 calls for greater regional cooperation at all levels to build back better, for getting back on track leaving no one behind to achieve the SDGs and to build resilience to future pandemics and crises.
Against this background, the “Sixth South and South-West Asian SDG Forum” will examine inclusive, resilient and sustainable strategies towards COVID-19 recovery efforts and identify priorities to accelerate the Goals of the 2030 Agenda. In alignment with the focus of the 2023 HLPF and APFSD, this year’s sub-regional forum will assess progress on the thematic SDGs of Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation); Goal 7 (Affordable and clean energy); Goal 9 (Industry. innovation, and infrastructure); Goal 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and 17 (Partnership for the Goals).
As part of the follow-up and review process for the SDGs, all countries in the subregion submitted their first Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) by 2019. Türkiye presented its second VNR in 2019, while Bangladesh, Nepal and India presented their second VNRs in 2020; followed by Afghanistan and Bhutan in 2021; and Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2022. In this context, this year’s Forum will draw from the VNR experiences of Member States to examine national and subregional perspectives on challenges, progress and achievements and lessons learned. This reflection will enable a forward-looking dialogue on partnership to accelerate the progress towards SDGs.
The Forum will bring together multiple stakeholders from governments, international community, civil society, academia and the private sector on a common platform to find ways of cooperation at national and subregional levels to build back better from the Pandemic and get back on track with the 2030 Agenda, leaving no one behind.
The objective of the Forum is to foster an in-depth and shared understanding among Member States and multi-stakeholders on strategies and opportunities at country and sub-regional levels to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with special focus on SDG 6, SDG 7, SDG 9, SDG 11 and SDG17.
1. Enhance awareness and understanding on key challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the SDGs, in line with the Regional Roadmap for Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific adopted by ESCAP Member States, and to support and complement the subregional agenda through sharing of experiences and knowledge in 2017.
2. Provide a platform for expert discussions and reflections on subregional perspectives and good practices along with challenges related to means of implementation towards the SDGs leaving no one behind.
3. Identify ways, through expert discussions to strengthen implementation efforts, stakeholder engagement, follow-up and review, linking national, subregional, regional and global processes, including through sharing of presentations and experiences of VNR countries at the HLPF.
4. Identify needs and opportunities for regional cooperation and support delivery of commitments to such cooperation by regional and subregional bodies and the United Nations Development System.