Closing Statement for the 70th Commission Session

Your Excellency, Mr. Tshering Tobgay,
Prime Minister of Bhutan and Chair of the 70th Session of the Commission

Your Excellency, Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão,
Prime Minister of Timor-Leste

Your Excellency, Lord Tu’ivakano,
Prime Minister of Tonga

Honorable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

My closing remarks should be read in conjunction with my statement this morning on ESCAP’s way forward, both of which will be available on our website, and which together chart the strategic direction for the secretariat.

The 70th session of the Commission has been a great success. In spite of challenging circumstances, which required us to conduct the session in two phases, we have seen wide-ranging deliberations and real progress made on understandings about critical development priorities.

I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to each and every delegation and participant – in both phases – for your patience, commitment and enthusiasm, which enabled this success.

In particular I would like to thank their Excellencies, the Prime Ministers of Bhutan, Timor-Leste and Tonga, as well as all Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other senior leaders, whose guidance helped set the tone for the achievements of the 70th session.

On behalf of all delegations I would also like to thank the Royal Thai Government for the warmth of their hospitality.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Strong ESCAP Mandates for Post-2015 Sustainable Development

At the Ministerial Panel earlier today, I presented the way forward on our regional agenda for sustainable development and financing development, as well as on other areas. Under your guidance, ESCAP will need to take these key follow-up actions, given the extensive outcomes of this session. In the interests of brevity, and since I know that many of you have flights to catch, I would like to make only a few important observations.

In both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the session, you have provided ESCAP with strong mandates on regional economic cooperation and integration, regional connectivity and on promoting sustainable development, not only within Asia and the Pacific, but also ensuring that the voice of our region, and our subregions, is articulated and noted in the global discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.

Within these broad themes, your deliberations and decisions have focused on a range of issues from the needs of our most vulnerable countries, to accountability for delivery in the next phase of global development.

Sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, climate change, ICT and mobilizing resources for better growth, have also been notable features of our very vibrant discussions, as have the diversity of voices whose perspectives have been heard.

Based on the constructive consultation this week on monitoring and accountability for post-2015 development agenda, the secretariat will study the issues further, and provide a draft framework to member States for your consideration.

Over the past five days, many good practices and country experiences were also presented, capturing the rich view of innovation in our region. As requested, the secretariat will prepare country profiles, highlighting specific national approaches and focuses on sustainable development. One of our shared challenges will be to distil the emerging conceptual thinking on integrated approaches to sustainable development and associated knowledge and technologies, and to facilitate its transfer among our countries.

This brings us to another key component of the sustainable development agenda – science, technology and innovation. As also reported earlier, the secretariat will be working to determine how best we can assist our member States in promoting technology transfer and to foster innovation. We will report back to you with a framework for your approval.

Underlying all of the work of the 70th session, has been the unifying narrative of Asia-Pacific connectivity – not just of transport links and infrastructure, but of the wider networks which will connect and drive our future. These priorities are embodied in the 14 resolutions and 30 decisions of the two phases of the 70th Commission session.

Another common thread has been the importance of expanding and strengthening the mandate and resources of the secretariat – to better promote our member States in their leadership of the new sustainable development agenda. I am deeply gratified to have received expressions of support in this regard, and count on effective action by our member States on this front.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Conclusion

To conclude, I would like to say that no session of the Commission has ever had such a wide regional and global reach.

You will have noticed, during our high-level panels, that almost every part of the session was webcast to our online audience, and made available for future viewing on our ESCAP YouTube channel. This outreach was also linked to development seminars being held around the region by our subregional offices, and resulted in more than 30 substantive questions for our various panellists.

I am also very pleased to report that, since the start of this week, our social media volume has been unprecedented, with more than 500 retweets and a potential reach of more than 7.5 million people. Our previous record was at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development earlier this year – at about 3 million. This is all part of our renewed Secretariat push to boost the impact and awareness of ESCAP’s important work.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Chairs, Vice Chairs and rapporteurs of both Committees of the Whole, and the Working Group on Draft Resolutions, for their hard work.

I would also like to thank my tireless staff – led by our Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Adnan Aliani, and the rest of my senior management team, who provided such excellent support to the 70th session of the Commission. This includes our conference support staff, our interpreters, our security section, my own staff in the Office of the Executive Secretary, and all the rest of our ESCAP team, who may not always be visible, but whose efforts make the complexity of the session such a smooth, efficient, and effective undertaking.

Finally I would like to express our appreciation to the Chair of the 70th session, H.E. the Prime Minister of Bhutan, for the tremendous amount of time, effort and leadership he has invested in the successful outcomes of our work. My thanks also to all others who stepped in.

This has been my first Commission as head of the secretariat, and I wish to end by saying what an honour it is to serve as your Executive Secretary. Together we will build the future we want for all the people of Asia and the Pacific.

I wish you safe travels as you return home from Bangkok.

I thank you.