Speech at The 2nd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Delivered at UNCC in Bangkok, Thailand

Distinguished Participants,

The 2030 Agenda has the potential to nurture resilient and resource efficient development, protecting our land, air, water and resources for future generations. To drive forward sustainable development, we are committed to working with member states and subregions to foster frameworks that help strengthen communities and societies.

Too often shared challenges are divisive and proposed solutions flounder as narrow interests stand in the way of the common good. To prevent such a phenomenon, there has been an effort to reinforce and synergize the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and 2030 Agenda. These agendas recognize the value of regional cooperation and grasp its transformative capacity through an inclusive, innovative and resilient people-centered approach, encouraging justice and partnerships to leave no one behind.

Thailand’s leadership on sustainable development in ASEAN has recognized that exploiting Complementarities between sustainable development and Vision 2025 should have a far-reaching impact. The Complementarity Report underscores focus on key priority areas, where we know challenges are greatest:

  • Poverty eradication
  • Infrastructure and connectivity
  • Sustainable management of natural resources
  • Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • Resilience

Each of these areas will require collective action, exploiting the interlinkages for integrated solutions.

How we address poverty and develop infrastructure, impacts the management of natural resources, affects consumption and production patterns and establishes the long-term resilience of our communities.

For Poverty Eradication, the indicators ESCAP uses show mixed results throughout the region. In ASEAN, extreme poverty was reduced from 138 million people in 2000 to 44 million in 2015, with projections for it be under 25 million by 2030. While we have seen progress, there is much more to do.

The number of people living in slums is projected to grow from 72.7 million in 2015 to 73.5 million by 2030. Altering this negative trend means focusing on the next priority: infrastructure. 80% of the population in the ASEAN region has access to improved water services, while only 70% has access to improved sanitation. This translates into significant infrastructure needs. How we provide this infrastructure - how it is planned, financed, maintained and operated will impact our development for decades to come.

We must balance these development needs with enhanced sustainable management of the region’s natural resources. To build strong, resilient and sustainable communities requires us to continue assessing risks and dealing with them to improve the economic and social conditions in a manner that limits resource intensities.

The Complementarities Report recognizes the importance of building capacities to anticipate threats and shocks, adapt to multiple risks, absorb the impacts of disasters, and transform our systems to reduce risk, vulnerabilities and inequality.

The reality is that each year, the ASEAN region is estimated to suffer $4.4 billion in losses from natural disasters. In 2016, the broader Asia Pacific region saw more than 5000 people lose their lives, and more than 35 million people affected by disasters that caused $77 billion in damages, mainly from flooding and drought. Since 1970, such losses in Asia Pacific have exceeded $1.3 trillion. We must indeed plan, adapt and transform.

To meet the challenges highlighted in the report, the complementarities initiative has identified key flagship areas to take forward actions. These include

  • Improving Nutrition to achieve Poverty Eradication;
  • An ASEAN Council for Sustainable Infrastructure;
  • An ASEAN Resource Panel to contribute to sustainable management of natural resources;
  • An initiative to green small and medium enterprises in ASEAN and promote Sustainable Consumption and Production;
  • An ASEAN Risk Transfer Mechanism to pool regional risks and promote better resilience planning

I hope this will be only the start of the work we take forward together and that other initiatives can be developed across our region. ESCAP stands ready to work with ASEAN and all its member States to foster the transformative change necessary, build regional cooperation and measure the progress we make together.