Can South-East Asia Meet Global Sustainability Goals?
12. February 2018
The economic bloc of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often cited as an economic success story. Its combined GDP per capita increased from $122 in 1967 to $4,021 in 2017, and expectations for growth remain high. But this tells just one part of its story. Combined economic indicators obscure an important reality: that over 90 million people in the region live in poverty. Socially, culturally and politically, South-East Asia is incredibly complex. That its challenges are often unique from one community to the next has made it difficult to solve common problems.
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present ASEAN with an unprecedented opportunity for change. They should serve as a call to action for the public and private sectors to move away from a siloed view of issues and instead align themselves to achieve a multi-faceted impact. At the same time, the SDGs shine a light on why previous initiatives have fallen short. While shared understanding is an important first step, it hasn’t always led to meaningful action. Sustainability without development is not sustainable. Likewise, development achieved unsustainably will not last. At their core, the SDGs highlight that sustainability and development go hand-in-hand and therefore provide the impetus needed to tackle roadblocks. This article, by the World Economic Forum (WEF), discusses how sustainable development will be driven across ASEAN.