Opening statement at the 380th Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives Bangkok, Thailand.

Distinguished Members,

It is a pleasure to be with you for today’s Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives. Since we last met, I have had valuable discussions with many delegations. I am grateful for your support and encouraged by the shared ambition to strengthen ESCAP’s work. I look forward to working with you in 2019.

I have begun visiting member States and multilateral institutions, to introduce myself and explore where our cooperation can be enhanced. I have been welcomed by the Asian Development Bank, China, Indonesia and India. There is a great deal of goodwill on which to build.

At the Asian Development Bank, the Bank president expressed his commitment to deepening the long-standing partnership with ESCAP. Sub-regional connectivity, data and statistics to monitor regional progress towards SDGs, were discussed as candidates for deeper cooperation. We are working on the specifics and are aiming to update our Memorandum of Understanding in time for the Commission.

Regional connectivity was also a priority for the counterparts I met in China, particularly transport and sustainable energy connectivity. Deeper collaboration to ensure the sustainability of initiatives undertaken in these areas and their benefit to local economies is critical. There was also an eagerness to see existing trade and transport agreements fully implemented and to accelerate work on a regional roadmap for energy connectivity. Sustainable agricultural mechanisation remains an area where South-South cooperation is relevant. Our regional Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanisation will continue to respond to this demand.

In Indonesia, counterparts underlined their openness to cooperation to support the rapid pace of urbanisation and smart cities initiatives. Sustainable transport solutions and the fourth industrial revolution were areas where an appetite exists for further cooperation to modernise regulatory frameworks. Enhancing capacity for public private partnerships for sustainable development was another area of interest. Indonesia would like to increase collaboration to improve the management of our Oceans - reducing maritime pollution and improving mangrove conservation. We are working to respond to these requests.

Cooperation on renewable energy and energy connectivity were central to my recent visit to India. I attended the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit on behalf of the UN Secretary General, at which I explored with counterparts how sustainable energy might be supported better in Asia and the Pacific. This included engaging with the International Solar Alliance, ISA, which aims to support the deployment of solar to achieve affordable and clean energy for all. India expressed interest in collaborating with other member States and using ESCAP to amplify this work. We are working with the ISA to develop an MOU in due course.

The Asia-Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology (APCTT) is going to increase its support for applied technology – tailored to specific local needs. India and other emerging countries in the region have expertise to share, especially in space technology and ICT. This is particularly relevant to the twelve Least Developed Countries in our region. ESCAP and APCTT want to work with all partners to draw on this experience.

I am looking forward to visiting many more countries across our region. A trip to Republic of Korea is planned in the near future. There will be more as opportunities arise. I am grateful for the help your delegations are providing to ensure these visits are successful.

Entering 2019, the United Nations Development Reform process continues. We are now in the second phase of reform which focuses on the regional dimensions of the UN development system. The Secretary General’s objective is to identify options for each region to reprofile and restructure regional assets to better serve the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Options will be developed

  • to ensure regional assets are used to support country-level policy priorities better;
  • to use the UN system’s regional assets better by making our response to regional and sub-regional policy agendas more integrated; and
  • to adapt the regional architecture to support regional, sub regional and national priorities.
  • A report and recommendations will be presented by the Secretary General to ECOSOC in May. I would encourage your delegations to actively engage in this process in New York.

Let me now turn to the upcoming intergovernmental meetings. The sixth session of the Committee on Trade and Investment will be in early March 2019. Navigating Non-tariff Measures towards Sustainable Development will be its theme. We are relying on your active participation.

Preparations for the Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development at the end of March 2019 are underway. In addition to a review of the Goals for this year, a discussion on the review of the High-Level Political Forum will be valuable. We would like to understand from our member States how helpful APFSD is in preparing for HLPF. By which I mean the preparation for member States’ Voluntary National Reviews. But also how global and regional forums can be mutually supportive of the follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda. Where improvements can be made, we are keen to act.

Preparations for the 75th Commission in the last week of May are gathering pace. As we finalize the programme and the invitation to speakers, one of the important discussions we will have is on the conference structure of the Commission. Preliminary consultations on the midterm review have already begun. We will be preparing a report for your consideration prior to discussion by the Commission. I would welcome any additional thoughts you may wish to share today.

I am delighted delegations are planning to sponsor resolutions on several key policy issues such as Space applications; Disaster risk reduction; Using data to leave no one behind; Science, technology and innovation; and the Asia-Pacific information superhighway. If there are other areas countries feel should be the focus of resolutions, I encourage you to come forward. The secretariat has been approached about several side events. If other countries have further proposals, please let us know. The secretariat stands ready to support you in every way it can.

I would like to extend my sincerest appreciation and thanks to the Embassy of Bangladesh for hosting the luncheon later today.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing your views.