Global Crises Further Threaten Progress on SDGs: ADB–UN Report

A man working in a rice field.
The polycrisis has caused severe disruptions to energy, food, and finance systems in the region. Photo credit: ADB

The convergence of multiple global crises is further jeopardizing Asia and the Pacific’s ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, according to a report released by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

The polycrisis—referring to major economic and social crises including severe climate change, impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine—has caused severe disruptions to energy, food, and finance systems in the region. It has introduced new and intensified shocks and stresses, especially for the most vulnerable groups, according to Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals through Solutions at the Energy, Food and Finance Nexus.

Perfect storm

“These crises created a perfect storm that has derailed the global economy, the livelihoods of millions of people in Asia and the Pacific, and progress toward the SDGs,” said ADB Managing Director General Woochong Um. “However, this could be a historic turning point toward a more secure future, initiating renewed momentum to transform food and energy systems. Emerging from the polycrisis and building systemic resilience will require countries to respond to these immediate vulnerabilities while also maintaining focus on longer-term development objectives.”

The report notes that without substantial progress on climate change mitigation, climate-related disasters will become more frequent and extreme. Preparing Asia and the Pacific to navigate ongoing and future crises will require coordinated efforts from governments and nonstate actors at regional, subregional, national, subnational, and local levels, to bring about inclusive transformation of energy, food, and finance systems. 

To build more sustainable and inclusive energy and food systems, the report calls for scaling up technology, policy frameworks, and social innovations to increase efficiency and yields, reduce environmental degradation, and add value for farmers and consumers. 

Critical solutions

Amid fiscal constraints, innovative financing solutions will be critical. To boost investments in the SDGs, governments need to recalibrate public financial management by aligning SDGs to national budget processes and exploring new sources of revenue, the report says.

Scaling up private sector financing for the SDGs is crucial, including by promoting the use of the SDG framework for impact measurement in investments. Regional and subregional initiatives such as lowering trade barriers will also promote food and energy security.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

This article was first published by ADB on 27 March 2023.