The world in 2020 is in a state of flux. While much progress has been made globally over the past ten years in expanding access to, and adoption of, broadband infrastructure and services, significant challenges remain in tackling digital inequalities, addressing the current widespread impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in accelerating efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

In January 2020, the United Nations launched a global consultation to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Through surveys and dialogues, people from all walks of life were asked about their hopes and fears for the future, their priorities for international cooperation and for the United Nations in particular.

There is an urgent need to take a more comprehensive approach for the transition to a low carbon economy if the world is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Broad multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed to create the integrated policies required for this deep transformation of our societies and economies.

In 2015, the United Nations launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and corresponding SDGs. To support this programme a Global Indicator Framework was adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission in March 2017 and subsequently by the UN General Assembly in July 2017. That framework comprises 232 statistical indicators designed to measure the 17 goals and their respective 169 targets.

In September 2019, the High Level Political Forum noted that the world is “on track” to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. This echoed the main finding of the first edition of this report, issued in July 2019, that the world was not going to meet most of the food and agriculture-related SDG targets by 2030.

Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2020 begins with a Highlights section that presents key messages from various parts of the publication.

Part I comprises the data tables and brief analyses of trends of select indicators for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which data were available. The indicators are presented according to the United Nations SDG global indicator framework.

By 2050, cities will be home to almost 70% of the world population, leaving no doubt that the achievement or failure of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be determined in cities.

In this rapidly urbanizing world, cities are forced to ask tough questions about how they can solve the unprecedented challenges ahead of them and COVID-19 has come to stress these and the urge for a change.

In river basins throughout the world, rivers connect and pass through urban and rural districts; and groundwater aquifers, which underlie urban and rural areas, are connected to the rivers.

COVID-19 has caused profound damage to human health, societies and economies in every corner of the world. This illness is zoonotic, a type of disease that transmits between animals and humans. It may be the worst, but it is not the first. We already know that 60 per cent of known infectious diseases in humans and 75 per cent of all emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. Ebola, SARS, the Zika virus and bird flu all came to people by way of animals.

For almost 50 years, civil society stakeholders have been key contributors to implementing the mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). UNEP strives to ensure effective, broad and balanced participation of Major Groups and Stakeholders as they play a central role in providing expertise and relevant knowledge.