ASEAN, the largest and most vibrant belt of Asia, has benefited from peace and stability as well as from its endeavors to become an integrated economic bloc that other subregions are looking to achieve and learn from. As ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary, ESCAP will also be commemorating its 70th year of operations. The two intergovernmental agencies have developed sound partnerships over the years and together we collectively strive to consolidate the ASEAN community, deepen integration and connectivity as well as strengthen efforts to narrow development gaps in the region.
We must not be complacent about the 2030 deadline to realize gender equality through the SDGs. We cannot afford to regress on the development gains made so far and we must continue to build momentum in successfully completing the task at hand. By prioritizing gender equality and upholding women’s rights, we are laying the building blocks for an Asia-Pacific region that values people, planet and prosperity. Let us not miss this window of opportunity to take bold and transformative steps in this collective journey to achieve equality between women and men, creating a better future for all.
In line with this year’s High Level Political Forum theme, APFSD will focus on “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a changing Asia-Pacific”. Our region, to its credit, has had a fair degree of success in reducing poverty. However, the deep rooted and multi-dimensional causes of poverty have prevented more distinct and sizeable achievements.
The road to the SDGs is challenging but achievable. The region is steadily making inroads in institutionalizing the SDGs in development and sectoral plans. Continued strong leadership, oversight, sharing of knowledge and best practices and UN system collaboration will help countries embrace integrated strategies to confront the multidimensional facets of poverty: deprivation, discrimination and marginalization, enabling the opportunity for prosperity for all.
Accelerating the transformation of official statistics to advance implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals requires not only concrete and tangible national actions but also complementary, collaborative, and cooperative partnership initiatives, based on a common understanding of the needs of countries.
It has been an honour to work for the UN’s largest Commission and a team that has shown its ability to change. I hope that you will continue to provide the same level of strong support for ESCAP for the incoming Executive Secretary. In the meantime the deputy executive secretaries and the directors will continue the important work ESCAP undertakes.
China’s role in the global context has grown in terms of its output, trade and now its voice and leadership in sustainable and inclusive development, as well as its resolve to pursue low carbon pathways. A further paradigm shift is anticipated in the role and influence of China, as it delivers on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by leveraging on its successful infrastructure capabilities and the capital strengths of new financing vehicles such as Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), New Development Bank (NDB) and the Silk Road.
Asian LLDCs face a number of critical barriers to both trade and transport connectivity. The 12 Asian LLDCs account for 0.7 per cent of global exports, while the entire Asia-Pacific region’s exports account for 40 per cent of the global total. The low share of global exports by LLDCs is a result of their lack of export diversification. For example the leading export sector in 6 Asian LLDCS is either hydrocarbon or minerals. As a result, LLDCs have had limited participation in Global Value Chains, or GVCs. Meanwhile, depending on the industry and measurement methods, the share of GVC-related trade stands at between 20 per cent and 60 per cent in the total trade of the Asia-Pacific.
ECO has been a long standing partner in development for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, or ESCAP. All ECO members are also ESCAP members and are engaged in broader policy and normative debates of regional cooperation and integration.