Statement to Committee of the Whole II: Agenda Item 4

Delivered to the Committee of the Whole II at the 71st Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand

Chair,
Distinguished Delegates,

Documents Before the Commission

Turning now to the documents before the Commission, delegates should have the following:

- E/ESCAP/71/30, draft programme of work for the biennium 2016-2017
- E/ESCAP/71/31, programme changes for the biennium 2014-2015
- E/ESCAP/71/32, partnerships and extrabudgetary contributions

(a) Draft Programme of Work for the Biennium 2016-2017

Document E/ESCAP/71/30 contains the draft programme of work for the biennium 2016-2017. It is based on the strategic framework for 2016-2017, which was considered last year by the Commission and the Committee for Programme and Coordination, and subsequently approved by the General Assembly.

The document before you has benefited from the review of headquarters to ensure greater coherence with the work conducted by other offices of the Secretariat and the other regional commissions.

In line with the strategic framework for 2016-2017, which incorporates the outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and takes into account the post-2015 development agenda processes, as well as the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR), the proposed programme of work for 2016-2017:

- Supports the development of effective policies for integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development;
- Measures progress towards attainment of internationally-agreed development goals;
- Provides a coherent and substantive regional voice on global commitments; and
- Enhances capacities through regional cooperation and economic integration.

The proposed programme of work places greater emphasis on:

- Regional economic cooperation and integration, particularly through trade and regional connectivity in transport, energy and ICT infrastructure;
- Reducing inequalities, promoting the realization of rights and empowerment of women, and enhancing the social inclusion and rights of other vulnerable and marginalized groups;
- Promoting sustainable management of natural resources, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and resilience to disasters and shocks; and
- Developing institutional mechanisms for regional cooperation in areas including financing for sustainable development; science, technology and innovation; national statistical capacities; and establishing a follow-up and review framework at the regional level for the sustainable development goals.

The draft programme of work will be further reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in 2015. In the autumn session of the General Assembly, the Fifth Committee will consider the programme budget. Based on their recommendations, the programme of work and the programme budget of the United Nations for 2016-2017 will be adopted by the General Assembly in late 2015.

We seek your endorsement of the programme of work for 2016-2017. We would also request the active support of your Governments for our programme of work, through your representatives in the ACABQ and the Fifth Committee, who are instrumental in the approval of our programme budget.

Should the Commission adopt the resolution to reform the conference structure, the programme of work will need to be adjusted. Similarly, with the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals by the General Assembly in September, we anticipate further adjustments to our work programme in the next biennium. The secretariat will bring these proposed changes to the attention of the Commission at its next session.

Chair, Distinguished delegates,

(b) Programme Changes for the Biennium 2014-2015

Now a few remarks regarding agenda item 4(b) on programme changes for the biennium 2014-2015, as contained in document E/ESCAP/71/31.

The proposed changes include the addition of two publications, one on sustainable development financing in Asia and the Pacific, and the other on the emerging development challenges in the least developed and landlocked developing countries of the region. In addition, we would like to propose the deletion of two outputs, namely, a seminar on trade, investment and the environment, in relation to the Seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific; and the Project Working Group on Trade of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA). The proposed modifications will have no impact on our progress towards attainment of the expected accomplishments previously agreed by member States, and will have no additional regular programme budget implications.

I would like to seek your endorsement of these modifications to the programme of work.

Chair, Distinguished Delegates,

(c) Partnerships and Extrabudgetary Contributions

At last year’s Commission session I stated that I was going to explore, as a key part of my plans to reinvigorate the secretariat, how we can catalyse innovative and bold partnerships between governments and development partners along with civil society, including the private sector, to support the region’s development agenda. Document E/ESCAP/71/32 reflects the efforts of the secretariat in this regard, and also provides an overview of the extrabudgetary contributions received by ESCAP in 2014.

To enhance relations and collaboration with development partners and donors, I undertook missions in 2014 to China, Japan, Kazakhstan and the Republic of Korea, as well as to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). This has helped to raise the visibility of ESCAP as the most inclusive intergovernmental platform, as well as develop research and knowledge to better service the intergovernmental processes. I also signed an agreement with the Russian Federation on its long-term voluntary contribution to ESCAP’s technical cooperation programme, and with Kazakhstan on a voluntary contribution in support of a renewable energy project in the Pacific subregion. The secretariat, furthermore, held annual consultations with partners such as China, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and ADB, as well as informal dialogues with a range of other existing and potential development partners.

ESCAP has enhanced the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) by strengthening United Nations coherence in normative and policy issues, as well as by promoting practical cooperation in addressing regional development issues. In 2014, the RCM focused on three areas: (a) the formulation of inputs into the processes relating to the United Nations post-2015 development agenda; (b) the implementation of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership; and (c) thematic studies and analyses using the combined resources of the United Nations system to undertake work in areas such as disaster management, gender equality, hunger and youth.

In 2014, the secretariat’s total extrabudgetary cash contributions, for technical cooperation and host country support to the subregional offices, amounted to $13.3 million.

I am pleased to inform you that the total cash contributions received by ESCAP in 2014 to support our technical cooperation work amounted to $18.2 million, of which $11.6 million came from extrabudgetary sources. This is appreciated and will facilitate continuity of programme at a time when funding is tight and competition for resources is intense. Bilateral voluntary cash contributions by ESCAP member and non-member States remained the main extrabudgetary source of funding.

The resources for technical cooperation were applied to a diverse range of work, supporting the needs and priorities of member States. This included analytical studies, training workshops, and advisory services, communities of practice, and networks to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and good practice across the region. The document before you provides examples of the results of the secretariat’s capacity development work, achieved in collaboration with a diverse range of partners.

The secretariat will continue to reinforce the three core functions of ESCAP’s unique role. We will continue to strategize and prioritize our analytical, normative and intergovernmental roles, and ensure cross fertilization of pertinent regional and extra-regional knowledge and experience, which will help formulate and implement national sustainable development programs and policies.

An important distinguishing quality of ESCAP’s technical cooperation work, and one that I will be strengthening over the coming year, is its positioning within long-term intergovernmental regional cooperation frameworks and commitments.

To conclude, I would like record the secretariat’s deep appreciation to our donors and development partners, many of whom are represented here. Together, we will further enhance ESCAP as an intergovernmental platform that can meet the increasing and diverse needs of our members.

I wish, however, to qualify my statement by saying that ESCAP’s regular budget will not be sufficient to deliver on many of the emerging regional sustainable development mandates, nor on the changes that are needed to strengthen the work of the Commission. The lion’s share of our regular budget is already committed to staff costs and building maintenance. Other work, including expanded mandates, must be largely financed from extra-budgetary income. For this reason I urge our member States to consider expanding their partnerships and especially their financial support which has to be on a rolling basis to offer the funding stability which is critical for programme continuity, to offer the best results for the Commission.

In this context, I look forward to your stronger engagement, and the stronger support of all of our partners and donors, as we strive together to ensure that the results we aspire to achieve will lead to a resilient Asia-Pacific for all our people focused on shared prosperity, social equity and sustainability.

I thank you.