Challenges in Asia and the Pacific

A family of farmers plowing a field in Bangladesh. The poor family has no bull or machines to level the field for cultivation. Photo: Kazi Arifur Rahman/UNDP Picture This

Asia and the Pacific has an enviable record in poverty reduction with considerable progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Nevertheless, the region is off track when it comes to hunger, health and sanitation – and even in areas such as poverty a number of Asia-Pacific countries are lagging behind. The cumulative impact of the food, fuel and financial crises has in some cases reversed hard won development gains.  Furthermore, rapid and unplanned urbanization, rising inequalities, climate change and environmental pressures - such as pollution and water scarcity - have changed the development landscape and posed new and complex challenges for countries to address. Persistent and emerging issues are both a cause, as well as an effect of uneven socio-economic development in the region.

How we address these challenges

UNDP works to sustain and accelerate progress on the MDGs, ensuring that growth is inclusive, sustainable and equitable. In this regards, we focus our efforts on the following key areas of work:

  • Inclusive Growth and Economic Governance
    We support countries in developing and implementing policies and programmes to promote inclusive growth process that ensures a more equal opportunity for all, especially the poor and marginalized to participate in and benefit from growth. This includes policy advice and technical support to improve quantity and quality of employment and livelihood opportunities, especially for women and youth. We focus on building capacity for national and regional institutions, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to promote greater regional economic integration with particular attention to the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Similarly, our work on gender-sensitive macroeconomic policies aims at strengthening the capacity of policy and decision makers in the region to promote gender equality and economic empowerment of women. We support countries in their efforts for sustainable management of natural resources by promoting regional south-south learning and identifying collaboration opportunities; and  facilitate stronger country level technical support.
  • Inequality and Social Policies
    We work with countries in the region to address inequalities and multiple dimensions of poverty. In so doing, we support countries to develop effective social policies and programmes, including national-owned policies and instruments to manage risks and vulnerabilities for the poor and marginalized. We provide policy advice to countries on how they can best achieve food security with evidence-based policy and programming options. Simultaneously, we led integrated cross-practice work to provide technical support in designing and implementing social protection and urban development policy and strategy for countries in the region, including country level assessment, diagnostic tools for policy and planning processes. We build effective interagency collaboration and partnership and develop regional platform for exchange of knowledge and lessons learned in this area of work.
  • MDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda
    At the regional level, we focus on tracking and reporting MDG progress in partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). Simultaneously, we continue to provide technical support and capacity development of country offices, governments and national partners to develop the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) Action Plans to identify key bottlenecks for slow and off-track MDGs and key policy actions based on prioritized ‘accelerated’ solutions. Through the regional MDG reports, we advocate for countries in the region to put extreme poverty at the top of their political and development agenda, to meet MDGs as well as to shape the development agenda beyond 2015. We also work with other United Nations agencies in the region to ensure that the process leading to the formulation of the United Nations post-2015 development framework includes the voices of people and the perspective of countries in this region. In so doing, we organize regional consultations on the Post-2015 Agenda.

Please visit for more information and interactive platform for:
            1. Sharing knowledge, experiences and good practice;
            2. Enhancing network of development practitioners, academics and civil society; and
            3. Promoting interagency collaboration in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is a part of our efforts to promote the community of practice with particular focus on regional themes and topics of common interests among UNDP country offices, development practitioners, policy makers and relevant stakeholders.

Please visit the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) for information on this Pacific-wide programme that helps to provide appropriate, affordable and sustainable financial services to low income households.