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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

18 July 2023

ESCAP ES

Excellencies, distinguished participants,

I am very pleased to present the 2023 Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership Report, which focuses on “Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals through solutions at the energy, food and finance nexus.”

This is the seventh thematic report that ESCAP, ADB and UNDP have published as part of a partnership that dates back to the era of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The report takes a closer look at the implications that multiple, overlapping crises have on countries and for attaining the SDGs. At the same time, it explores opportunities, innovative solutions and the way forward to transform this nexus between energy, food and finance in order to achieve the ultimate goal of a more greener, inclusive and more resilient future.

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the war in Ukraine and worsening climate change, together referred to as a polycrisis, have negatively affected the Asia-Pacific region’s energy and food security as week as fiscal situation.. This polycrisis has plunged millions more people into poverty and also has reversed years of development gains.

It is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable people as food and energy prices increase significantly . The resulting surge in inflation has worsened consumption inequality and created a cost-of-living crisis.

Countries’ fiscal space remains under greater stress than before, impeding their ability to support vulnerable households and prevent their economies from further decline.

At the same time, climatic and natural disasters continue to place a heavy burden on the most vulnerable groups, who not only have the least ability to respond but also the least capacity to recover. 

The polycrisis has pushed the SDGs further out of reach.

The region’s improvements in access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services under Goal 7 have been set back, with millions of people lacking the ability to pay for electricity services and bearing the burden of rising energy costs. This has also diverted urgent investment needed to strengthen progress in renewable energy.

Hunger and malnutrition under Goal 2 are on the rise, with an estimated 425 million people in the region undernourished and more than 1 billion people moderately or severely food insecure.

Under Goal 8 on decent work and economic growth, the outlook for the region’s economies remains challenging, with recovery being hampered by high inflation, geopolitical tensions and recent global financial turmoil. Despite positive employment trends following the pandemic, the region’s labour market is still operating below the pre-crisis levels and with lower real wages.

With narrow fiscal spaces and high debt burdens, countries face widening financing gaps for achieving the SDGs and reversing a lasting impact on the region’s development prospects.

Other Goals are also directly and indirectly impacted, given the highly interlinked nature of the SDGs.

Distinguished participants,

The region is witnessing promising practices and innovative approaches that strengthen the nexus and drive the much-needed transformation of the region’s energy, food and finance systems.

Several examples of such good practices are presented in the report. For instance:

  • The use of smart and low-carbon farming methods, such as solar-assisted irrigation, electric farming vehicles and other innovative technologies.
  • Upcycling agricultural waste, optimizing energy use and curbing food waste and losses..
  • Awareness programmes on changing diets and reducing intake of meat.
  • We see small-scale solutions that change the way rural farmers participate in agricultural value chains, including facilitate women-led enterprises.
  • We also see efforts to accelerate subsidy reforms to improve fiscal space and scale up innovative financing options such as the use of SDG bonds, blended finance and crowdfunding to support sustainable energy and food transition. 
  • At the regional and subregional levels, the report showcases initiatives that remove cross-border trade barriers and advance just energy transitions that are critical to advance this goal of SDG 7

The polycrisis has highlighted the need for new models of energy and food production that bring about a stronger nexus of energy, food and finance for long-term recovery. As such, the report highlights three main priorities going forward:

First, we need to further strengthen multilateral and multi-sectoral partnerships across this intersection of energy, food and finance.

  • We also need to develop more data-driven and adaptive institutions that enable better governance and crisis response. They also help address unforeseen challenges over the medium to long term.
  • Finally, we need to boost efforts that direct finance towards SDGs. It is critical to align public and private financial flows with SDGs, in general, and to mobilize new sources of financing to transform the energy and food systems to deliver on SDGs..

With that, let me conclude.

Thank you very much.

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