OPINION: UN SDG goals boost access to justice

How do we counter massive pollution on land, at sea and in the air? How do we ensure justice for human rights defenders who are attacked when defending the environment? How do we promote more inclusion and participation in decision-making processes?

The 17 United Nations-backed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to address these challenges by stipulating that various targets are to be attained from 2015 to 2030. Inevitably, there is special resonance for Asia and the Pacific, the world’s most populous region.

A picture of the region not faring too well on the aforementioned issues is emerging. In a recent report released by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asia-Pacific region has been regressing on the issues of climate change (covered by SDG Goal 13) and marine environment (covered by SDG goal 14). More specifically, the Southeast Asia region has been regressing on SDG Goal 16, which encompasses access to justice, participatory decision-making and access to information, which are closely related to environmental protection and human rights.

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