The Midterm Review of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries (VPoA) for the Euro-Asian region held in Bangkok recently provided an opportunity to reflect on progress made and, more importantly, what remains to be done to address the unique challenges facing landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) to achieve the 2030 Agenda
March 1st came and went without further escalation of already tense US-China trade and investment relationships. It is, however, too soon to fill in champagne glasses. Protectionist policies implemented so far by the world’s largest economy and corresponding retaliatory tariffs by other countries have already caused immense uncertainty regarding the future structure of global trade and the global trade system. In the meantime, what are potential ripple effects on sustainable economic development in the Asia-Pacific region?
When 164 United Nations member States adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (the Marrakech Compact on Migration) on 10 December last year, I read on social media that they had decided to give up control over migration to the UN.
So did that mean, as someone who works on migration in the UN, I could pick and choose who gets to go where?
Tackling Development Challenges through Structural Transformation and Trade
Structural economic transformation and the expansion of international trade are among the most pressing issues to be addressed, if Asia’s landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) are to overcome the development challenges related to their geographical locations.
Providing essential public infrastructure and services to support sustainable development is not a task for central governments alone. The responsibility of delivering essential public services and infrastructure also falls upon the shoulders of local governments. Local governments can account for up to half of the total public expenditure nationwide in many developing countries. In large developing countries, like China, local governments’ share in public expenditure can be as high as 85 per cent.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set an ambitious agenda of 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 169 global targets and 232 global indicators. But wait, there is more. The indicators are to be disaggregated not by one or two but at least eight different characteristics: income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location, or “other”. And all “in accordance with the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics” which recognize appropriate and reliable data needs to adhere to certain professional and scientific standards.
Infrastructure development is undoubtedly critical for a country’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness as it impacts economic activities by increasing productivity, facilitating trade, and promoting innovation. Across the Asia Pacific region, however, economic growth as well as broader development goals are hindered by a shortage of roads, mass rapid transit systems, telecommunications, power plants, water and sanitation and other basic infrastructure.
The Asia-Pacific region has exhibited relatively strong economic growth over the last decade, while the world was reeling from the global financial crisis. Yet, ESCAP’s 2017 Progress Report on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) revealed that the region met only 1 out of the 17 goals.
Our dislike of inequality is innate. A child may have been perfectly happy with her breakfast until she sees her brother being served a more desirable kind of cereal. Desire is unlocked when new opportunities become available, while feelings of injustice may arise when they are not distributed equally. As overwhelming as the choices of cereal may be, are the same choices available to everyone?
The world has already warmed by around 1°C relative to pre-industrial baselines. According to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released last month, an additional 0.5°C of warming will increase the risks of weather and climate extremes in many places.