The countries of the Asia-Pacific region have an opportunity to move the region’s integration to the next phase and deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the same time. ESCAP will work with all of you to support the multilateral solutions that can turn this ambition into a reality, to deflect the rising tide of protectionism.
Our ambition is to work with all member States to deliver across the four pillars of RECI. By finding multilateral solutions to shared challenges, the countries of the Asia-Pacific region have an opportunity to move the region’s integration to the next phase, and deliver on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Gender equality is critical for eradicating poverty and inequalities. Building a world where men and women have equal opportunities is not an isolated objective of the 2030 Agenda. The SDG policy framework offers a holistic approach to harnessing sustainability. Policy makers and implementers are expected to leverage the interdependence, interlinkages and balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development and manage the policy trade-offs, while also ensuring climate friendly and resilient infrastructure is developed to protect the environment.
Regional cooperation is critical to addressing shortcomings in progress for the countries with special needs, in particular the Least Developed Countries, and to mitigate the risks posed by the cross-border dimensions of regional megatrends, especially those related to trade, migration and responsible investments. Regional cooperation should focus on strengthening national statistical systems and innovations in data collection, especially in the context of an expanded understanding of multidimensional poverty and prosperity.
Wastewater generally receives little social and political attention in comparison to water supply challenges. Yet the two are intrinsically related, especially in the context of water scarcity. Neglecting wastewater can have highly detrimental impacts on the sustainability of water supplies, human health, the economy and the environment. An estimated 871,000 deaths globally were caused by the contamination of drinking water, inadequate handwashing facilities, and by inappropriate or inadequate sanitation services.
The discussions over the past three days have underlined the importance of regional cooperation in tackling the challenge of eradicating poverty and promoting inclusive sustainable development. The dialogue has given us more insight and understanding on how to approach these issues in the Asia-Pacific region, and has demonstrated how eager all the stakeholders are to work together.
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.