Statement to Committee of the Whole II: Agenda Item 5

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,

The international community stands poised to adopt later this year a new universal and sustainable development agenda that will continue the work begun with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A set of sustainable development goals and associated targets will be at the heart of this new plan.

This agenda will help our primary goal of eradicating poverty and, this time around, in a more comprehensive and holistic manner, it will also address all causative factors and reinforce change though simultaneous action in all three dimensions of sustainability.

The Commission, throughout its existence, has continually looked to remain at the forefront of our region’s development needs. It has always taken stock of its effectiveness and relevance, and made the adjustments necessary to remain the preeminent regional intergovernmental platform.

This year, these two processes have converged, and we meet today to examine how the Commission will deliver on the promises of the post-2015 development agenda. For his part, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Member States have recognized the need for the United Nations system to be “fit-for-purpose”, to meet existing and emerging development challenges and needs. This conference structure review is Asia and the Pacific’s response to that call.

The Commission will recall that, through resolution 69/1, adopted in 2013, and resolution 70/11, adopted last year, it requested the secretariat to conduct further study and analysis on several proposals to reform the Commission’s conference structure and to report on their programmatic, organizational and budgetary implications at the present session.

You have before you now two documents, E/ESCAP/71/33 and E/ESCAP/71/40, which encapsulate the work of the secretariat in this regard.

I will not review in great detail all that is covered in those two documents, as the ideas and proposals contained in them have been well deliberated and sharpened by your representatives in the ACPR for more than a year now. Over the last several weeks, member States have also been in consultations on a draft resolution outlining the contours of a new conference structure, taking into the account the ongoing global development deliberations in New York and elsewhere. Most pertinent in the process of deliberation has been the secretariat’s effort to map out the responsibility of various intergovernmental committees relative to the current proposal for 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Suffice it to say that, if adopted, a new conference structure will enable the Commission to focus on sustainable development and support countries’ efforts to deliver in several areas. In addition to strengthening our intergovernmental discussions on priority issues such as energy, finance, and science and technology, the regional institutions – central to our capacity building mandate – will benefit from stronger governance structures, with experts identifying their work priorities.

The new conference structure will offer us an opportunity to work together with greater focus, and to support dialogue on the crucial means of implementation of the post-2015 development agenda, namely: finance, technology and trade.

The conference structure has been well deliberated within ESCAP and also with your colleagues. The report before you lays out the programmatic, organizational and budgetary implications of a reformed conference structure. This, along with mandates to support member States in sustainable development work, will require some additional resources and a reallocation of existing ones to reflect the proposed changes.

I emphasize now that your support here and in New York, to ensure that ESCAP secures its fair share of resources relative to the other regional commissions, is crucial to ensuring the success of the new conference structure.

I look forward to hearing your comments on the proposals and of course, to your eventual agreement on a draft resolution.

I thank you.