Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Can ASEAN reach its SDG targets in time?

The Global Goals, also referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), were embraced in 2015 by 193 United Nations (UN) member states during the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York, with the aim of eradicating poverty, protecting the environment, and promoting peace and prosperity for everyone by the year 2030.

Research Associate, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) Ayu Pratiwi Muyasyarah mused over the progress towards these goals in her op-ed entitled ASEAN at the Crossroads:‘Progress Towards SDG Targets by 2030.

As 2023 marks the midway point of the SDG agenda, Ayu Pratiwi pointed out countries are urged to achieve at least half of the progress required to accomplish the goals.

“Whilst some considerable progress has been made towards the Global Goals, a preliminary assessment conducted by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 140 SDG targets showed that only about 12 per cent of SDG targets are on track,” noted the author.

She said that current trends indicate that 575 million people will still be living in extreme poverty by 2030 as a result of this, while highlighting the prediction that 84 million children will be out of school by 2030.

The op-ed outlined that if the SDG targets of the ASEAN region are not achieved, it will face growing vulnerability to various threats.


The region’s coastal cities located in low-lying areas are particularly at risk of flooding and typhoons, and several least developed countries are situated within the ASEAN region.

According to current patterns, Asian countries, including the ASEAN member states (AMS), are projected to significantly miss out on attaining 90 per cent of their SDG targets.

The author said the lack of standardised monitoring and reporting tools is a key factor contributing to the deviation from most SDG targets and having access to necessary data for monitoring countries’ progress towards the SDGs is essential, along with evaluating this progress using a standardised methodology.

There is a lack of available data, with countries reporting data for less than 60 per cent of the SDG indicators on average from 2015 to 2019.

This is due to difficulties in regularly collecting data, resulting in insufficient documentation of progress and targets going off track said Ayu Pratiwi.

In addition, the unreported data by countries, driven by concerns about negative publicity, contributes to imbalances in goal prioritisation, resulting in underreporting of progress and deviations from specific SDGs.

Furthermore, methodological disparities across disciplines pose challenges in monitoring SDG progress and hinder the comparability of countries’ data, undermining the effectiveness of peer criticism and rankings.

In diverse countries such as those in ASEAN, adapting the global SDG indicators to local contexts proves more advantageous.

Closing her op-ed, Ayu Pratiwi said that the AMS, like many other countries, have a limited timeframe to achieve their SDG aspirations. While progress has been made, it lacks the necessary speed and rigour.

It would be regrettable if countries failed to reach their SDG targets due to blind spots in monitoring their progress comprehensively. – Khayr Zakariyya