Statement at the 370th Session of ACPR

Delivered at the 370th Session of the Advisory Council of Permanent Representatives (ACPR) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Chair,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Members of ACPR,

Welcome to the Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives. Just a few weeks on from the Commission, I’m pleased to have this opportunity to take stock, to touch upon ESCAP’s proposed focus for the second half of the year and to set out our efforts to support sustainable development. I know many of you were actively involved in our seventy-third Commission. Your engagement made it a success. The nine resolutions adopted, and which you helped shape, provide a solid basis for coherent multilateral action across our region.

Asia-Pacific was the first region to endorse a Regional Roadmap for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The roadmap provides a comprehensive and clearly prioritised framework for our analytical and technical support. It will guide our annual deliberations on financing for development, our analytical work on science, technology and innovation, and our efforts to strengthen the availability and quality of regional data and statistics. The Roadmap should help shape our response to climate change, our efforts to strengthen our region’s disaster risk reduction and resilience capacity, and our measures to improve natural resource management. At its heart, is an ambition to improve access to essential services and to build seamless and sustainable connectivity. We will continue to support regional cooperation and integration which was rightly recognised as one of the most effective ways to accelerate progress towards the SDGs by this year’s Commission. Indeed, improving the Agenda 2030’s means of implementation remains our priority. With this in mind, we have revitalized partnerships with regional UN development agencies, regional development banks and think tanks. We’re determined to tap their expertise to effectively deliver on a central part of our mandate: regional follow up and review.

The Commission moved decisively to mainstream the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into our conference structure, committees and the ESCAP secretariat’s work. Your institutionalization of the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development gives our region an annual opportunity to evaluate progress towards the SDGs. We have also moved to hard wire work on seamless connectivity in the transport, ICT and energy sectors into our intergovernmental processes.

The Energy Committee will align work on energy connectivity with efforts to achieve sustainable energy for all, SDG 7. This effort will be buttressed by the creation of two expert groups. The resolution agreed on transport connectivity encourages all parties to the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network to consider accession to the Intergovernmental Agreement on International Road Transport along the Asian Highway Network signed by China, Mongolia and Russian Federation in December 2016. The secretariat is reaching out to all parties in the Asian Highway Network to bring this new operational agreement to their attention. The transport work programme will support the development of sustainable, safe and integrated systems. You made completing the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway a priority. More broadly, support for our focus on countries with special needs was renewed. And you asked for finance and development to be further integrated into our work programme guided by the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development. I am looking forward to today’s discussions on the implementation of resolutions.

Directly after ESCAP’s Commission, I represented our region as well as the five other UN regional commissions at the Ministerial segment of the 2017 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum. This was an opportunity to set out the outcomes of the fourth financing for development regional meeting convened by ESCAP in April and our work to promote effective fiscal policies to support inclusive and sustainable development. I took the opportunity of a dedicated side event to promote the key recommendations of our Countries with Special Needs Report 2017 which focused on the vital importance of attracting investment in infrastructure for inclusive development and on the common challenges which a multilateral response could help overcome. During the forum, the government of Sri Lanka helped us organise an excellent session on Making finance work for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. In the forum’s margins, I also represented ESCAP on a panel focusing on the drivers of migration. Prior to these activities, I represented all Regional Commissions in the ECOSOC Integration Segment.

Earlier this month I attended the 8th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development, which followed on naturally from our Commission’s theme study on sustainable energy. I participated and, following the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, addressed the ministerial session focused on Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable Energy which the five UN Regional Commissions organised with the gracious support of the Government of Kazakhstan. The Conference adopted a Ministerial Declaration outlining pathways to a sustainable energy future, adding momentum to our work to achieve Sustainable Development Goals in this area. The Declaration called for national sustainable energy action plans to be developed; internally recognised minimum energy performance standards; enhanced methods for public data collection and indicators on energy for sustainable development.

Other recent events at which ESCAP was an active participant include the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and the Oceans Conference in New York. The Oceans conference led to the implementation of two resolutions. One promoting regional cooperation to support the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. The other, strengthening the UN’s work to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14. ESCAP made a voluntary commitment to support the establishment of an Oceans Account Partnership for Asia and the Pacific. This will assist member states integrating data and information from across scientific domains, policy frameworks and institutions to inform progress on SDG14.

The rest of the year is set to be busy. In July, we will be showcasing our Commission’s work and outcomes at the High Level Political Forum in New York. It will consider the regional dimension of sustainable development in two prominent sessions. The Executive Secretaries of all the Regional Commissions will participate in a panel on the regional dimension of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Chairs of the regional forums on sustainable development will report on the outcomes of these forums in a session after the Opening of the Ministerial segment. UN ESCAP will also co-organise two official side-events. One co-hosted with the Permanent Representations of Pakistan and Fiji on our region’s response to Global Goals. Another organised with the other Regional Commissions on approaches to regional assistance to translate SDGs into national action. May I kindly request you to share these plans with your representatives in New York? We count on their support.

UN ESCAP’s intergovernmental calendar for the remainder of 2017 is packed. ESCAP will be represented at the General Assembly to ensure our regional perspective continues to be recognised and feeds into the broader UN approach. In Bangkok, in September we will be organising an Asia-Pacific Summit on the Environment, as well as an intergovernmental meeting on the regional review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. In October, we will organise the fifth sessions of the Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and of the Committee on Trade and Investment - as well a Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration ministerial meeting. In November, the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development will be convened; we will hold a regional consultation for the Global Compact on Orderly and Regular Migration and a High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the mid-term review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities.

Work continues to strengthen our longstanding cooperation and partnership with ASEAN through the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership. The ASEAN and ESCAP secretariats are working together to keep momentum behind the ASEAN-UN Plan of Action for 2016-2020 and identify further areas where cooperation may be beneficial. With the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs, I co-hosted a High-Level Dialogue of ASEAN countries for the complementarities initiative which looks at how the ASEAN 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda can be delivered in a way that is mutually reinforcing. Collaboration is also ongoing to foster entrepreneurship among women; improve disaster risk reduction through satellite derived information; promote effective public-private partnerships for sustainable infrastructure development; and to share analysis on Electricity Exchange.

We also continue to put a great deal of effort into supporting analysis and reports to provide the solid evidence base we need for multilateral solutions to common challenges. In the second half of the year publications will include a flagship Asia-Pacific report on Disaster Risk Reduction, but also publications on Trade and Investment, Disability, a Statistical Yearbook and an update to the Economic and Social Survey for 2017.

Finally, I would also like to update you briefly on recent appointments in ESCAP’s Secretariat. Three new Directors have been appointed. Mr. Hirohito Toda is now the head of the Subregional Office for the North and Central Asia, Mr Hongpeng Liu is the Director of the Energy Division and Ms Mia Miki is taking over as the Director of the Trade, Investment and Innovation Division from Ms Susan Stone. This will be Susan’s last ACPR and I am sure you will join me in thanking her for her hard work during her years at ESCAP.

Thank you all for taking forward this weighty agenda: our collective effort to support growth and sustainable development across Asia and the Pacific.