10 SDG Solutions for Asia-PacificJun 6, 2017
A new report from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) showcases ten projects that are transforming the course of development in the Asia-Pacific region.
Entitled “10 Solutions to Help Meet the SDGs,” the report describes large-scale projects in ten countries in the region – Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste – that have demonstrably accelerated progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“The Asia-Pacific region is fast becoming the world’s economic centre of gravity,” said Haoliang Xu, Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific. “These stories show how transformation can work – and with our long history in the region, UNDP is fully engaged in the process of identifying development solutions that unlock and scale up progress.”
Among the highlights of the report are China’s Green Lights Project, a groundbreaking initiative among the Chinese government, private companies and UNDP to replace costly, energy-draining conventional incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Enlisting the light bulb industry from the start, the project helped to retrain and incentivize light bulb manufacturers to develop conversion techniques and improve production. The resulting improvements in the production of energy-efficient bulbs led to better quality products, which in turn incentivized the public to ‘go green’, taking advantage of dramatically widened access to better lighting options.
By 2016, incandescent bulbs of 15 watts or higher had been banned for sale in China, part of an ambitious national drive to phase out incandescent bulbs entirely, thereby slashing carbon dioxide emissions by up to 48 million tons a year annually, and by up to 237 million tons by 2025.
“We are supporting innovation not only in development solutions, but also in how those development solutions are designed and implemented,” said Xu. “These projects demonstrate the levels of innovation required to make good on our pledge to leave no one behind.”
Despite spectacular growth and transformation over the past 15 years, the Asia-Pacific region remains plagued by significant development challenges: a widening gap between the wealthiest and poorest people; patterns of consumption and production that threaten stability of populations and the environment; and the world’s highest vulnerability to natural disasters.
However, noted Xu, the region is also increasingly well equipped to handle these challenges.
“Each development intervention needs to aim for transformation, reaching large numbers of people, and strengthening the range of institutions and services that underpin both human and environmental well-being,” he said. “It is a tall order, but far from an impossible one.”
In addition to energy efficiency and climate change adaptation, the report includes projects to expand financial inclusion, access to legal services, and civic participation among women and marginalized groups.
In the Solomon Islands, for example, the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme, a joint initiative by UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund, supported the Central Bank in rolling out mobile and branchless banking services across the 1,000 far-flung islands comprising the nation. As a result, the number of bank account holders doubled within six years. By 2016, over 195,000 new accounts had been opened, and over 100,000 people could bank using mobile apps.
Xu pointed out that such innovations were intrinsic to the UNDP way of doing business in the region, and acknowledges the organization’s own successful transformation from donor to development advisor and provider of development services.
“This report reflects the confidence that governments in Asia and the Pacific have placed in our new direction,” he said. “The 2030 Agenda is the most ambitious benchmark the world has ever seen. We at UNDP have the experience, expertise and personnel to support the region in meeting, and perhaps even exceeding, the SDGs.”
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