SOUTHEAST ASIA is regressing in its effort to meet its sustainable development goals (SDGs) relating to climate action, ocean health, and ensuring peace and justice, according to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

ESCAP issued its findings in its annual SDG progress report.

It said greenhouse gas emissions of many countries in the region have been increasing, which has also been experiencing “the worsening quality of oceans and slow progress in managing marine protected areas.”

“Southeast Asia is regressing on all measurable targets under peace, justice and strong institutions. The subregion needs to urgently reverse current trends on intentional homicide, unsentenced detainees and victims of human trafficking,” ESCAP added.

It said the region needs to make more progress in creating a sustainable energy sector, noting that other parts of the Asia-Pacific are making more progress in terms of installed renewable energy generating capacity.

Southeast Asia, however, was cited by ESCAP as “well-positioned” to achieve SDG nine, which aims to promote sustainable industry and innovation.

According to ESCAP Statistics Division Director Gemma Van Halderen, the region was not hitting its 2020 milestones for the 17 SDGs even before the pandemic.

“On its current trajectory, less than 10% of the SDG targets are on track to be achieved by 2030,” Ms. Halderen said during a virtual briefing on Monday.

“The biggest progress was on good health and well-being, and industry, innovation and infrastructure, but challenges remain. The most alarming are regressing trends on climate action and life below water,” she added.

ESCAP said coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will likely have an impact on health, basic services, jobs, and community resilience in the Asia Pacific, which will pose challenges to poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development by 2030.

It said the results of its 2021 report are not comparable with previous reports since “a revised set of SDG indicators and updated historical data” are used for the analysis every year.

On Tuesday, ESCAP also announced the launch of a National SDG Tracker that will allow countries to track and assess their progress on SDGs.

“Countries can take advantage of the wealth of data already available in the Asia-Pacific SDG Gateway, customize indicator sets, update data and set national targets. The National SDG Tracker also makes it possible to use disaggregated data so no one is left behind,” ESCAP said. — Angelica Y. Yang