Back to search

ADB, UNEP Report Examines Challenges in SDG Implementation on SDGs 12, 14 and 15

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report that shares insights from a regional stocktake on SDG implementation in the region. The report also aims to present a compendium of tools to help developing countries implement the environmental dimensions of the SDGs.

The report titled, Strengthening the Environmental Dimensions of the SDGs in Asia and the Pacific: Tools Compendium,’ is the result of an effort by the ADB to understand the reasons behind limited progress on SDGs 12 (responsible consumption and production), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land) in the region, all closely linked with SDG 13 (climate action). Through a stocktaking exercise, the ADB found that many countries in the region have made commitments to the environment and have been successful in raising awareness on the SDGs, but focus on sector-based approaches that ignore the interlinkages among the Goals and do not result in meaningful action.

As an illustration, the report finds that reducing marine pollution (SDG target 14.1) is only a priority in three of nine countries surveyed but conserving coastal and marine areas (SDG target 14.5) is a priority for six countries. The report observes that these two targets are closely related, suggesting “a failure to understand the links between targets within the SDGs.” Similarly, five out of 14 surveyed countries identified promoting access to genetic resources and fair sharing of benefits (SDG target 15.6) as a priority while nine out of 14 countries prioritized protecting biodiversity and natural habitats (SDG target 15.5). The report observes that benefit sharing is an opportunity for countries to ensure their population is not disadvantaged by biodiversity management activities, but countries do not appear to have recognized this linkage. (IISD)

The report identifies a number of tools to support policymakers in understanding the interlinkages among the SDGs and improve integration of environmental dimensions of the SDGs into national policy, plans and programmes. For SDG 14, the report identifies marine spatial planning, state of the coast reporting and integrated information management systems for coastal and marine environments as key tools. For SDG 15, the report suggests integrated ecosystem management, natural capital accounting for water and wetlands and restoration opportunities assessment methodology. For SDGs 14 and 15, the report highlights the role of Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA), ecosystem services review and geographic information systems (GIS), among others. Government institutions in both Mongolia and Sri Lanka are using “systems thinking,” simulation and modeling tools and network analysis to support their SDG implementation. The report concludes there is “no need to invent new concepts”; existing decision-making tools, approaches and methods can be scaled up to promote more coordinated and integrated approaches and a whole-of-government response to the environmental dimensions of the SDGs.