Asia-Pacific (APAC) has been the world’s most dynamic emerging area of economic development and trade in recent decades. Here, we reveal the significant and imbalanced environmental and socio-economic effects of the region’s growths during 1995–2015. Owing to the intra-regional trade of goods and services, APAC economies grew increasingly interdependent in each other’s water and energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) and PM2.5 emissions, and labor and economic productivity, while the environmental and economic disparity widened within the region. Furthermore, our results highlight APAC’s significant role in globalization. By 2015, APAC was engaged in 50–71% of the virtual flows of water, energy, GHG, PM2.5, labor, and value added embodied in international trade. While the region’s final demand and trade grew less resource- and emissions-intensive, predominantly led by China’s transformations, APAC still lags behind global averages after two decades. More joint efforts of APAC economies and attention to sustainable transformation are needed.