Promoting transformative actions for sustainable development in the 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.

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 2019

The Future of Asian and Pacific Cities 2019 report takes a fresh, forward-looking approach to urban issues. It focuses strongly on the Asia-Pacific region’s urban future – the key thematic priorities and drivers that need to be upscaled and accelerated to shape more inclusive, resilient and sustainable urban development. The report outlines how urban development policy pathways can guide cities and be in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable