CS73: Closing Statement of the 73rd Commission Session

Delivered at the closing of the 73rd Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand.

Honorable Ministers,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The deliberations at the 73rd session have shown our countries’ determination to move forward on a common development agenda. As the Secretary General stated in his message to the Commission, the spirit of openness and willingness to work within and beyond borders in Asia Pacific is critical to enhancing multilateralism and to build a better future for our children.

Thank you for your active participation in driving forward and concluding the Resolutions and decisions. Your insights into your national development challenges have been valuable. It is testament not only to your commitment to development, but also to the importance of ESCAP as your regional platform.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The countries of the Asia-Pacific have shown great leadership in launching the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but a great deal of work remains to be done to implement the agenda as part of your national plans and budgets. Going forward, the region needs to consider major how to transform its policies, its investments and its actions at all levels and by multiple stakeholders.

As a result of your work, a clear future direction has been laid out. Through the seventy-third session of the Commission you have endorsed the Regional Roadmap for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the first such initiative in any region. The priority areas in the Roadmap will guide our collective work in critical areas such as climate change, disaster risk reduction and resilience, natural resource management, connectivity and energy. Based on your roadmap we will also redouble our efforts to promote the means of implementation, especially through the development of data and statistics, the promotion of innovation and technology and the advancement of trade and financing for development. Your interventions have underlined the mutually reinforcing nature of the Sustainable Development Goals and Regional Cooperation and Integration.

We are committed to coordination and coherence within the United Nations system in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the regional roadmap. Through the Regional Coordination Mechanism, we have put in place arrangements to deliver as one in the Region. We are building on our partnership with UNDP and ADB to support regional follow up and review. We will work with number of UN Funds and Programs including UNEP with whom a joint ministerial conference will be convened on environment later this year.

In addition to the Roadmap, you have passed eight other Resolutions. These will help to further mainstream the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the conference structure of ESCAP and the work of the Secretariat. Advancing seamless connectivity for sustainable development, sustainable transport, sustainable energy, and ICT connectivity through the information superhighway, will together form the backbone of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and will be reinforced by the regional cooperation and integration processes which is also being informed by Agenda 2030.

The Resolutions have oriented us to further support countries with special needs, with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. And you have renewed your support for landlocked developing countries by driving forward work underway to deliver on the Vienna Program of Action. Overall, we will help to close the infrastructure development and financing gaps that were identified in this year’s CSN report. Moreover, we will strengthen support to member States for implementation of the outcomes of the UN Oceans conference in line with the Resolution you have passed, including enhancing data and statistical capacities for SDG 14. We will strengthen collaboration on disaster risk reduction.

With your support, we have completed the task of enhancing the conference structure of the Commission aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We were the first UN Regional Commission to reform to align ourselves with the 2030 Agenda.

During this Session you endorsed the incorporation of the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development into the conference structure, providing the region with an annual forum for follow up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and for preparations for the High Level Political Forum. The Energy Committee and Subprogram will enable us to integrate the issues of energy connectivity with the SDG7 sustainable energy for all, as highlighted by this year’s theme study. You have decided to create two energy expert groups on energy connectivity and on universal access to modern energy services, renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaner fossil fuels. And in the area of transport, we now have a regional action program for sustainable transport connectivity to support intraregional and deeper economic integration in the regions.

You have also called upon ESCAP to support the effective implementation of infrastructure projects associated with sub-regional and regional initiatives, including the Belt and Road Initiative, the Global Infrastructure Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Program, the Eurasia Initiative, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Connectivity Blueprint for 2015-2025 and the Master Plan on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Connectivity 2025. You have also considered essential the application of new technologies, in particular ICT, to increase energy efficiency and improve environmental performance, in developing integrated and seamless connectivity for sustainable development.

With the management reforms we are undertaking, the secretariat is better equipped than ever to support you in implementing these decisions with cutting edge research and knowledge products - coupled with capacity support that can generate the policies and investments needed to drive transformational change. We will continue to improve our systems and embrace the management reforms of the Secretary General, which seek to simplify and streamline rules and procedures, making the United Nations more nimble and responsive to the needs of its member States.

While the secretariat will work to continually improve the support it offers, transformative action needs to be taken by countries themselves, both individually and collectively. A crucial element of this action has to be financing for sustainable development. I am pleased to inform you that based on your continued support and guidance ESCAP will further integrate financing for development in its work program, strengthen and effectively use the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development. Based on the past four consultations on this topic, we will prioritize three areas: the role of tax and public expenditure policies in supporting sustainable development; mobilizing private finance for infrastructure development and enhancing financial inclusion.

To conclude, I would like to thank our Commission Bureau: Starting with you, Mr. Chair, you have eloquently articulated the plight of the Pacific Island Developing States. We know it is not an exaggeration to say that your countries face a real existential threat with the rising tides, the devastating storms and, surprisingly enough, the bone dry droughts.

Thank you also to the Chairs and Vice Chairs of the two Committees of the Whole and the Working Group on Draft Resolutions.

I would also like to thank the ESCAP secretariat staff. They have worked tirelessly not only this week, but for months to make this special 70th anniversary session of our Commission a success. The Secretary of the Commission, his team, the conference support staff, interpreters, security staff, and staff from across our Divisions have demonstrated great dedication and commitment, for which I am very grateful.

I would also like to underline our continued gratitude to our gracious hosts, the Royal Thai Government, for their hospitality and support. The unwavering support and friendship of the Royal Thai Government is why Bangkok is the regional hub of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific.

Finally, I thank you all once again for honouring us with your presence and wish you a very safe journey home.