Sustainable development goals are essential for the Asia Pacific region if it is to ensure the health and safety of the populations of each nation. Resources are becoming increasingly strained as populations grow. Access to clean water, food resources, energy, healthcare and more are under threat.
The situation is critical, and that is what makes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development so important. There are 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the region, with 169 separate targets. While this sounds like a great step forward, there is an obstacle in the way.
There is no way to achieve these goals in a direct, efficient manner without the right data and funding.
The decision to implement new sustainable development goals is perfect for the ongoing evolution of the region. The problem is that to create the right goals with good starting points and end targets; we need reliable data. Agencies need to know the precise scale of a problem with correct, detailed information on the issue.
This means up-to-date information on population levels, resources, employment in certain sectors costs and more. That is just on the human level. Sustainable development goals with an impact on the environment and biological life mean data on pollution, emission levels, energy usage species decline.
We need to know the starting point with these factors, some people involved and the potential impact. Without that, it ‘s hard to calculate the right route towards progression and change. Also, agencies may find that projects hit a brick wall when they have gaps in data and research that stop them from progressing.
For example, there could be a significant figure on the issue of malnutrition in the Asia Pacific region. This first piece of data of 490 million people at risk is just the start. Without a wider collection of information on the subject, relevant bodies cannot act appropriately.
These people need to be clearly broken down into distinct areas with their specific problems. People at risk of one nation may have an entirely different cause and effect system in place than another. Furthermore, there has to be accurate, up-to-date data on the efforts in place in the region. If not, time and resources could be too easily wasted in the wrong areas.
The devil is in the detail. The World Banks Statistical Capacity Indicator makes it clear that this detail is severely lacking in some areas.
The World Banks Statistical Capacity Indicator provides a strong indication of the issues faced here. They have a scale on the capacity of data for the region, and the results are telling. As a region, Asia Pacific sees some fairly average scores.
79/100 for the timeliness of statistics, 70/100 for adequacy of source data and 62/100 for the methods used. This is a regional average that doesn’t tell the full story. There are some nations with high access to data and efficient systems.
Then there are those that score 20/100. This is where the concern lies, with the poorer countries that aren’t monitored and represented adequately.
There is a clear need for change and improved data collection and accessibility across the region.
The only way to achieve these new sustainable development goals for the Asia Pacific is with better data. New measures are now needed to protect those in need. Thankfully, some agencies are listening to this call.
The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) recently created programs to build the capacity of data. This should allow these poorer, under-represented nations to catch up and be better understood.
The aim is to increase information in the primary areas such as public, economic and vital statistics on these key populations. There is also a notion of expanding work on disaster-related statistics to ensure that countries can receive the support they need.
Officials estimate that this will require an annual investment of $1 billion. This is a lot of money to find each year and direct into the generation of data. However, we cannot underestimate the importance of this data on the future of the region.
Stronger databases, with more different, up-to-date statistics, can lead to more efficient, tailor-made solutions. It is more crucial than ever in a region under threat from environmental issues, increased poverty and reduced access to primary resources.