APFSD4: Closing Remarks

Delivered at the Closing of the Fourth Session of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development in Bangkok, Thailand.

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to address the closing session of the Fourth Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD). The discussions over the past three days have underlined the importance of regional cooperation in tackling the challenge of eradicating poverty and promoting inclusive sustainable development. The dialogue has given us more insight and understanding on how to approach these issues in the Asia-Pacific region, and has demonstrated how eager all the stakeholders are to work together.

This Fourth Session of the APFSD has been productive, with outcomes that will have an immediate impact on our progress in the region. In particular, I commend member States for the adoption of two key documents: first, the Regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific and the second, the Form and Function of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. Agreement on each of these documents represents the culmination of two years of intergovernmental efforts.

The Road Map lays out priority areas, implementation arrangements and a process for tracking SDG progress, building on the agreements reached at the last two meetings. It will, with the support of ESCAP, facilitate regional level cooperation with a focus on practical means of implementation and specific thematic areas. It gives me great satisfaction to note that, with the adoption of the Form and Function of the APFSD, member States have now institutionalized on a long-term basis for this inclusive, intergovernmental forum. APFSD will support the region in preparations for the global level High-level Political Forum, or HLPF, by enhancing capacity, capturing and sharing regional perspectives and supporting the review of progress toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In agreeing upon these two documents, you have built the architecture for future regional cooperation and in doing so, you have underscored the value of multilateralism.

During its Fourth Session, the APFSD has served as a platform for member States to share their achievements, the challenges faced and the opportunities arising from the 2030 Agenda. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize and thank member States and all stakeholders for their contributions. They have demonstrated the collaborative and enthusiastic spirit needed to tackle this ambitious agenda.

It was encouraging to see how the roundtable discussions with member States, civil society and other stakeholders allowed diverse and open dialogue to take place, with every party on participating on an equal footing. We listened as in-depth perspectives were shared on achievement on the theme of this years’ HLPF and on the current cluster of goals: ending poverty and hunger, ensuring healthy lives for all, promoting gender equality, sustainable infrastructure and protecting marine resources.

Furthermore, member States who presented their experiences through the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) this, year made clear the positive impact that the VNRs have on both policy development processes and the review of progress. The VNRs are an important exercise for domestic reflection and for sharing lessons learned with other member States to accelerate achievement of the SDGs.

The APFSD has also provided an opportunity for inter-agency cooperation and collaboration. Through the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership, ESCAP, ADB and UNDP have shown leadership in pooling their resources and expertise to work together and advance the 2030 Agenda. As the first and only region with this type of partnership, these efforts have produced two useful resources - an outlook report, reviewing goal-by-goal progress; and a thematic report, to help countries understand regional megatrends as well as interlinkages between rural and urban areas and the provision of infrastructure. These reports have been critical in informing the ongoing dialogue on the SDGs, and I am sure that future knowledge products from this partnership will continue to make a positive contribution.

In conclusion, the APFSD deliberations and agreements reached this year have cemented the foundation for a concerted and effective regional response to address cross-cutting issues under the 2030 Agenda, with a focus on eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity.

Our discussions have also reminded us that, while the countries of the Asia -Pacific are forging ahead in this common endeavor, much work remains to bring about the transformations needed. In the years to come, through the APFSD, ESCAP will continue to support crucial dialogue among member States, to share experiences and to strengthen implementation.

As we close this Session, my thanks go to our Chair, the Vice-Chairs and the delegates from our member States, colleagues from across the United Nations system, civil society and other stakeholder organizations, as well as to our excellent moderators, speakers and discussants. I would also like to thank our Secretariat team for all of their hard work.

I thank you and wish you all a safe journey home.