Promoting transformative actions for sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region

Progress on the environment-related Sustainable Development Goals has lagged in Asia and the Pacific and the triple crises of food, energy and finance associated with COVID-19, conflicts and climate change have highlighted the inherent socio-economic and environmental vulnerabilities in the region. Without coordinated action, climate change and environmental degradation will cause increased socioeconomic consequences, harming human health and wellbeing, especially for the most vulnerable population and countries in Asia and the Pacific.

Member States need to accelerate action to reach the goals of the 2030 Agenda and the Environment and Development Division supports this process by mapping paths to a green, resilient and more equal Asia and the Pacific. EDD applies transformative futures methods, systems thinking and behavioral sciences to develop scenarios for a more sustainable region and to identify the actions needed to realize this vision.

Our approach 

At the Environment and Development Division, our workplan is designed strategically around four thematic areas: 

The Environment and Development Division offers a comprehensive intersectional approach to accelerate actions for achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda. Our focus includes support to meet specific targets and to identify pivotal interventions that may catalyze positive results for more than a single Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). 

ESCAP EDD Area of Work

Our services 

The Environment and Development Division delivers its services through the Environment and Development Policy Section (EDPS) and the Sustainable Urban Development Section (SUDS). Our division prioritizes work related to intergovernmental support, the development of knowledge products and tools, and technical assistance to build capacity in the region.

  • Intergovernmental support: EDD supports Member States to enhance regional cooperation in the form of transformative, integrated environmental actions that can contribute to planetary health. Regional cooperation together with good governance and appropriate policies can help to integrate sustained improvements for green, resilient and sustainable development pathways. 
  • Knowledge products and learning tools: EDD’s work includes the development of knowledge products in the form of flagship reports, policy briefs, technical papers and theme studies throughout the year. All resources are available to the general public in digital format. In addition, EDD manages the Sustainable Development Goals Help Desk, one-stop online service providing access to SDG-related tools, knowledge products, data portals, expertise, advice and opportunities for peer-learning and regional South-South cooperation through thematic areas, covering a multitude of topics. 
  • Technical assistance and capacity building: In line with our thematic areas and cross-cutting issues, the division provides technical assistance and capacity-building activities to support governments at the local, subnational and national levels to strengthen skills, knowledge and tools, as well as to improve knowledge-sharing and resource utilization. 

Key publications

Through participatory foresight and in-depth analysis, the challenges, opportunities, and shared vision for a sustainable future in Asia and the Pacific are identified in EDD publications, which guide our work of promoting sustainability transitions.

Protecting our planet

Protecting Our Planet through Regional Cooperation and Solidarity in Asia and the Pacific. This flagship report provides an overview of the state of the environment in Asia and the Pacific, highlighting that the region accounts for more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions and two-thirds of premature death, due to air pollution, and causing a quarter of endemic species in the region to face high risk of extinction. The report identifies a number of policy recommendations and calls for reinvigorating multilateralism to protect our environmental commons, which is fundamental for human health and well-being.

  • Series of the Asia-Pacific State of the Environment and Development reports can be accessed here.

Asia Pacific Future in 2040

Asia-Pacific Futures in 2040. Raising ambitions for a healthy environment. A series of participatory workshops resulted in this exploration of five drivers of systemic change in Asia and the Pacific from an environment and development perspective. Four alternative futures for the region provide clarity on the scale and scope of change needed and a phased road map to 2040 highlights opportunities for multi-country, collaborative actions. The report emphasizes the importance of identifying and discarding “used” narratives that no longer serve the region’s people.

The future of Asian and pacific Cities 2023

The Future of Asian-Pacific Cities Report 2023 entitled, Crisis Resilient Urban Futures, is a comprehensive analysis and assessment of sustainable urban development in the Asia and Pacific region at a time of great disruption and uncertainty resulting from multiple interlinked global crises in a post-pandemic era. This report aims to provide valuable insights into the spatial, economic, social, environmental and governance aspects of cities, offering holistic policy recommendations towards a sustainable urban recovery from these crises.

  • Series of the Future of Asia-Pacific Cities reports can be accessed here.

2023 Climate Review Asia Pacific

This 2023 Review of Climate Ambition in Asia and the PacificJust transition towards regional net-zero climate resilient development, developed jointly by ESCAP, UNEP, UNFCCC/RCC Asia-Pacific, ILO, UN Women and UNIDO, and the members of the Issues-Based Coalition for Raising Climate Ambition of the Regional Collaboration Platform for Asia and the Pacific members, applies the IPCC's recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the analysis and recommendations for Asia-Pacific member States to set more ambitious NDC commitments. The report also investigates opportunities to develop and apply just transition tools, policies and framework policies that will ensure society wide support and engagement in implementing low carbon and net zero economy-wide transition. Furthermore, in the analysis of the trends in ecosystems changes in the Asia-Pacific region, the report seeks to identify new and innovative approaches to both mitigation and adaptation, as well as to increase investments in the maintenance and restoration of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems to leverage nature-based climate solutions.

  • Series of the reports on Review of Climate Ambition in Asia and the Pacific can be accessed here.