Launch of the UNESCAP 2016 Asia Pacific Economic Survey at USP today, from (L-R), Professor Vijay Naidu (USP), Iosefa Maiava (UNESCAP), Neelesh Goundar (USP), Tubagus Feridhanusetyawan (IMF) and Dr Kesaia Seniloli (USP).
As nations begin implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Asia-Pacific region has been asked to promote broad-based productivity strategies with targeted fiscal spending, enhanced skills, better infrastructure, and improved agricultural productivity, says the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
Launching UNESCAP’s flagship publication “Economic and Social Survey for Asia and the Pacific 2016”, in partnership with The University of the South Pacific in Suva today, USP’s Acting Head, School of Management and Public Administration, and Director of Development Studies, Professor Vijay Naidu said: “at its essence, sustainable development calls for balanced and integrated policy making based on a strengthened evidence base, to ensure all economic, social and environmental considerations to serve the overall public interest are accounted are taken care of.
“In other words, a holistic approach to policy making and implementation. A high quality of sustainable growth is critical, particularly in the Pacific given the high economic and social vulnerability, and natural resource dependence,” he said.
“To this end, we are pleased to facilitate discourse, with like-minded development partners, that can help make our planet more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us.”
The Survey projects that Pacific island developing economies as a whole will experience an economic slowdown in coming years, with growth rates moderating to 3.4% in 2016 and 2.7% in 2017. Soft prices for mineral exports weigh down the growth forecast in Papua New Guinea. In most countries, ongoing effects from El Niño also induce drought conditions and constrain agricultural and fisheries production.
Economic growth is expected to be supported by steady economic expansion among key trading partners, such as Australia and New Zealand, lower energy import bills, higher tourism receipts and continued infrastructure upgrades and post-cyclone reconstruction efforts in some economies. The key downside factor is an increased risk of cyclones, which could significantly damage productive infrastructure, agriculture, tourism facilities, and livelihoods, amongst others.
The Head of UNESCAP’s Pacific Office, Iosefa Maiava said: “to raise the region’s economic momentum and effectively pursue the 2030 Agenda, policymakers are advised to use all available policy levers, including countercyclical fiscal policy and supportive social protection measures. Such interventions will also strengthen the foundations for future productivity-led growth by targeting areas such as: labour quality, including knowledge, skills, and health of the workforce; adequate infrastructure in transport, energy and ICT; and access to finance, especially by SMEs.”
The Survey assesses the region’s economic outlook, provides analyses and guides policy discussion on current and emerging socioeconomic issues to support inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. The launch was followed by an expert panel which discussed the Survey’s findings and pertinent sustainable development issues in the Asia-Pacific region.
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