Climate change, ocean pollution, and disasters from natural hazards have also placed a heavy burden, especially on the poor and vulnerable. Further, these challenges are magnified by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has become a global emergency in 2020, requiring forceful action at the national, regional, and international levels. Although it remains uncertain when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, economic and social impacts on the region will be significant.
In 2018, Asia and the Pacific region was responsible for half of the world’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which have doubled since 2000. Moreover, the 2019 World Air Quality Report indicates that 99 of the 100 cities with the most polluted air quality are in Asia and the Pacific.3 Projections for 2030 show a worsening on 20% of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators than they were in 2015. In fact, all 17 SDGs are not on track to meet their goals by 2030. A 2019 global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services details the continuous and rapid decline of most biodiversity and ecosystem indicators, primarily resulting from anthropogenic activities.4 About 75% of land surface has been significantly altered, 66% of ocean area has been experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85% of wetlands area has been lost.