The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community Vision 2025 strategy recognizes the complementarity of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the ASEAN community-building efforts to uplift the standards of living for the people. In moving forward, the best strategy is to examine how the two agendas can reinforce each other, respecting the objectives, value propositions, distinct niches and common elements of each. Fast tracking the alignment of these agendas is critical as we have now 9 years remaining to meet the ASEAN 2025 and 14 years to realize the 2030 Agenda goals and targets.
Asia and the Pacific is forging ahead and leading global efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. ESCAP’s membership has passed a resolution to constitute and operationalize the annual Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Forum or APFSD. The enhancement of ESCAP’s conference structure with its new intergovernmental Committee mandates will harness the means of implementation – encompassing finance, trade and science, technology and innovation.
The development of a Global Compact for safe, regular and orderly migration could not be more timely, given the number of displaced people in critical need of humanitarian assistance is only increasing. In addition, migration becomes a useful mechanism for countries to fill labor and skill shortages arising from rapid demographic changes.
ESCAP will focus on consensus building and catalyzing negotiations to help build the energy bridges this region needs; while harnessing research and project development, model legal and regulatory agreements for electricity trade and regional pricing mechanisms. Collective action is critical to enable a move away from fragmented approaches towards more holistic, integrated and sustainable energy development.
Regional infrastructure development across North East Asia’s corridors is vital to enhancing Eurasia and Asia-Pacific connectivity. Impetus is to be provided by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the enhancement of EEU, and an expansion of the membership and mandate of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
Regionalism has seen a resurgence given the discontent with globalization and the emergence of a multipolar world. In this context, integration prospects for the Asia-Pacific region and Eurasia, a large landmass with a diverse resource base, appear promising. Nevertheless, integration will be a complex and lengthy process, and will require political and economic solidarity.
ESCAP will continue working to its fullest capacity on multiple fronts to ensure that the region is well equipped to meet the challenges of the SDGs and that developing countries, especially the countries with special needs, are given the support they need to reach their development potential.
Realignment of public policy frameworks alone cannot drive the transition to sustainable development. The private sector, through forging transformative alliances and challenging conventional thinking can translate the sustainable development process, embodied in the SDGs, from promises on paper to meaningful changes on the ground.
In 1951 the United Nations issued its first stamps. Today, I have the great privilege to present to you a new stamp sheet, issued by the United Nations Postal Administration, commemorating this special exhibition and promoting the work of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific.
Given the global economic challenges and slowdown, more supportive global partnerships for finance, trade and investment will be critical given CSN trade accounts for barely 0.9% of the total regional trade. ESCAP through its regional connectivity and trade facilitation programs will be focused on supporting the CSNs to improve their trade prospects which are critical for growth and trade revival.