Closing of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2015

Delivered at the Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

We have enjoyed comprehensive and rich discussions over the past two days. The outcome of the APFSD has benefited from your consultations and efforts. This forum helped strengthen consensus on Asia-Pacific sustainable development dimensions and associated challenges and opportunities within the context of post-2015 development agenda, as well as regional review and follow-up mechanisms.

Exchanges on the form and function of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development beyond 2015 were useful, and will help shape the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Overall, we have achieved a great deal but, as you know, there is much work still to do.

The Forum showcased national examples and experiences of sustainable development, with a focus on integration of the three dimensions. There was unanimity that the forward-looking agenda needs to engage all people of the region in development and implementation.

Building on the processes of last year, we had more extensive deliberations, not only to hear the perspectives of Governments, but also Civil Society Organizations and the private sector. I am sure you will agree, partnership will be an essential basis on which success will be achieved in delivering on the ambitious post-2015 development agenda. I am proud to say that at this APFSD, no voice remained unheard.

In my concluding remarks today, I would like to briefly reflect with you on what we have agreed in the course of the Forum, where I believe we have reached a level of regional and multi-stakeholder consensus on some of the critical issues related to the post-2015 development agenda. In so doing I am cognizant, and excited that such a strong regional voice will now feed into the HLPF. Through the HLPF the results of this meeting will feed into the United Nations summit to finalise the post-2015 development agenda, with sustainability at its core.

Let me now highlight the key outcomes and successes of 2015 APFSD.

Major Recommendations per Session

Defining Asia-Pacific sustainable development challenges and opportunities - ‘Strengthening integration, implementation and review for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific’

The APFSD provides this region with an exciting opportunity. We discussed the challenges, opportunities and priority steps to promote integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development. We agreed on the need to focus on a more inclusive, balanced and sustained growth path, while respecting planetary boundaries and social needs. We called for region-wide acceptance of social justice and ecological sustainability, as fundamental policy objectives. Finally, recognizing that the sustainable development agenda must be firmly embedded in national policy frameworks, and requires national and local ownership, we called for enhanced political commitment and leadership to realize sustainable development aspirations.

Perspectives on the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015 and the sustainable development goals

Through this panel discussion we explored global processes on sustainable development through a regional lens. Decisions on the post-2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals, are expected to be concluded in September and we must begin to discuss implementation modalities. The need for the global agenda to be reflected in national sustainable development frameworks was highlighted.

Countries emphasized the challenges of implementing the post-2015 agenda in a way that supports all three dimensions of sustainable development. The need to involve all stakeholders into planning, implementation and review processes was highlighted by many speakers, as was the need to fully bring the private sector on board by creating an enabling and incentivizing environment.

Regional mechanisms for review of implementation of the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015

A robust, effective and transparent follow-up and review framework is certainly critical to ensure the implementation of the ambitious post-2015 development agenda likely be agreed later this year. Such a framework should help to track progress and identify achievements, challenges and critical factors in implementing the post-2015 development agenda. It can support decision makers in making policy choices and help them to prioritize actions and investments. It should also assist in identifying needs and can help to mobilize the means of implementation.

Member States noted that follow-up and review, in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, should be streamlined, ‘fit for purpose’ and adapted to the capacities and national priorities of member States, while highlighting that regional follow-up and review mechanisms require further discussion.

APFSD beyond 2015

The Forum took note of the secretariat paper on the Form and Function of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development and recommended that the next APFSD should support the implementation of the United Nations post-2015 development agenda in Asia and the Pacific, and should be consistent with objectives, form, function and modalities of the HLFP.

Special presentation: Asia-Pacific models of sustainable development

I must admit that one of the sessions which, in my opinion, marked the success of this event, was the special session on Asia-Pacific models of sustainable development. This provided a wonderful opportunity to listen to experiences directly from the region.

All models presented linked with existing and widely-accepted values and traditions, thus supporting stakeholder engagement and accelerating efforts toward sustainable development. The session highlighted that different countries and subregions face diverse challenges, and that there is therefore not just one pathway to achieving sustainable development.

Regional preparatory session for the Annual Ministerial Review

During the regional preparatory session for the Annual Ministerial Review, you reflected on what it will take to manage the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs.

While the Asia-Pacific region has made impressive achievements, the level of progress towards MDGs has been uneven. Least developed countries will therefore need particular support and attention to do better when we implement the sustainable development agenda.

The special needs of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States will therefore need to be addressed by targeting finance for development, transfer of technology, as well as capacity building to these countries. Development cooperation and financing will play a significant role in support for implementation of the post-2015 development agenda and in facilitating the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs.

Conclusion

The outcomes of this Forum represent a key milestone for our region, with important implications for the global process. They will be brought to the attention of the third session of the High-level Political Forum that will be held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations from 26 June to 8 July at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, with the theme “Strengthening integration, implementation and review - the HLPF after 2015.

The end of this meeting is only the start of our work together. We are now gearing up to make sustainable development a concrete reality and a living legacy. Together, we can end poverty, hunger, and inequality, ensure growth and environmental protection, and build the inclusive and sustainable future we all want.

My thanks go to our Chairperson, the Vice-Chairs, all representatives of member States, colleagues from UN agencies, friends from Civil Society Organizations, and our excellent moderators, speakers and discussants. I would also like to thank the team from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, of the Royal Thai Government for their excellent support.

I thank you and wish you a safe journey home.