English Hindi


100 Expected Questions

Prelims Capsule

Human Development

Survey 2019 Ambitions Beyond Growth report by UNESCAP

Survey 2019 Ambitions Beyond Growth report by UNESCAP


  • GS 2 || Governance & Social Justice || Human Development || Concept of Development

Why in news?

  • Recently a report, Survey 2019: Ambitions Beyond Growth was published by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).


  • The UN defines 17 SDGs as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
  • These include targets such as “No poverty”, “Zero hunger”, “Good health and well-being”, “Quality education” and “Gender equality”.

Report highlights

  • Concerns: Rising financial instability, household debts, non-performing assets and trade wars can put growth at risk, which will further hurt poverty eradication programmes.
    • The report flags rising household and corporate debts — Malaysia, Thailand and the Republic of Korea have rising household debts; and China has fast expanding corporate debts.
    • The emergence of non-bank online consumer loans has also generated new risks, with higher default rates than mortgage loans.
  • Investment: The UNESCAP, a regional arm of the UN, notes in the report that the region needs additional annual investment of $1.5 trillion — equivalent to a dollar per person per day to achieve SDGs by 2030.
    • The report also notes that this spending is within the reach of many countries given their fiscal space and potential to leverage private investment.


  • The new report argues that keeping the old paradigm of prioritising GDP growth at all costs is neither feasible nor desirable.
  • Balanced investment package: Instead, UNESCAP proposes an investment package, equivalent to 5% of the combined GDP of Asia-Pacific developing countries in 2018, that includes:
    • $669 billion to support basic human rights and develop human capacities
    • $590 billion to achieve clean energy for all and live in harmony with nature
    • $196 billion for improved access to transport, information and communications technology (ICT), and water and sanitation.
  • Closing this investment gap is within reach for many countries, but the gap is widest in countries which can least afford to narrow it.
    • Multilateral financing mechanisms: North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation as well as strengthened multilateral financing mechanisms will be essential to accelerating the pace of sustainable development.
    • Innovative financial instruments such as green bonds and promoting new investor classes can help leverage the massive $51 trillion in assets managed by the private financial sector in the developing Asia-Pacific region.
    • Tax revenues: In addition, there is considerable potential to raise tax revenues in the region while improved investment efficiency.

Remark on Education

  • The Asia-Pacific region significantly increased education access and average schooling years over the past several decades, but quality remains an issue.
  • As of today, 92 million children in the region fail to obtain basic literacy and numerical skills even after completing primary school (World Bank, 2018).
  • The report says that significant savings could be achieved through greater emphasis on education quality and outcomes.
  • It cites UNESCO estimates in 2014 that globally, $129 billion was wasted annually due to the disconnect between schooling years and acquisition of basic skills alone.
  • Using an efficiency frontier approach, Asia-Pacific developing countries on average could save more than 30% through efficiency gains without compromising on education performance.
  • Strengthening teaching quality and teacher training is key to achieving better educational results.


  • Rising NPA: The report also flags concern regarding India’s rising non-performing asset which can potentially derail the country’s efforts to achieve SDGs.
  • Poverty: According to the C Rangarajan committee report, India has around 363 million people living in poverty.
    • India needs to spend around 10 per cent of its GDP, while rest of Asia-Pacific countries need to spend 5 per cent of their GDP to achieve SDGs.
    • India needs to spend nearly $2 (Rs140) per day per person to remove poverty, while rest of Asia-Pacific countries have to spend nearly $1 per day per person till 2030 to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • Job creation: The UNESCAP report notes that India’s growth recovery from the economic shocks of demonetisation and Goods and Services tax may help the poor in the future.
    • This growth would necessitate creation of enough jobs for those joining the labour force in order to prevent people being trapped in low-skilled, low-income and low-value work.

Additional info


  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region.
  • It is established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Parent Organisation: UN ECOSOC
  • India is a founding member of UNESCAP.

Mains question

  • “Too much focus on economic growth will lead to unsustainable growth, and will put future growth at risk.” Critically analyze in light of the Survey 2019: Ambitions Beyond Growth report released by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).