Asia-Pacific countries stress ‘leave no-one behind’ as critical for the United Nations development agenda beyond 2015

Ministers and high-level representatives from Asia and the Pacific have adopted the ‘Bangkok Declaration of the Asia-Pacific region on the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015’ as the key outcome document of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Dialogue: From the Millennium Development Goals to the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015, convened by the Royal Government of Thailand with the support of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The Bangkok Declaration emphasized that the Post-2015 Development Agenda should be “holistic, inclusive, equitable, people-centred and universal”, and should aim to eradicate poverty and promote sustainable development. The Declaration also recommended that the Agenda should “address all forms of inequalities and the factors underpinning them”. Additionally, it proposed a strengthened global partnership and enhanced implementation of the agreed-upon development goals. Finally the Ministers expressed their desire to see an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process that involves civil society, private sector and other stakeholders.

The Ministerial Dialogue, held from 26-28 August, marked the first regional Ministerial-level event to discuss the United Nations post-2015 development agenda following the release of the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons. Joined by representatives from civil society, the private sector, as well as international organizations and UN agencies, participants reflected on key lessons learnt from the Millennium Development Goals process, and shared Asia-Pacific perspectives on transformative shifts required to advance sustainable and inclusive development across the region post-2015.

With the spotlight during the Dialogue placed repeatedly on poverty reduction and sustainable development challenges, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, emphasized the importance of building sustainable economic prosperity for both people and planet: “Now is the opportunity for the Asia-Pacific region to lead on sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – and to contribute to the shaping of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Reinforcing this, Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary stressed in his closing remarks: “It has become clear that economic growth alone is not enough. For long-term prosperity and sustainability, we need transformative shifts.”

As outlined in the report of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons, the five transformative shifts are: leave no one behind; put sustainable development at the core of the development agenda; transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth; build peace and effective, open and accountable public institutions and; forge a new global partnership.

Reflecting this, in proposing goals to meet the broad and numerous development challenges in the region, delegations stressed the need for inclusivity, and argued that poverty reduction and education must remain at the core of global development objectives. In addition, they proposed that the post-2015 framework should incorporate goals to ensure universal access to health care and education, promotion of disaster risk reduction and preparedness, and that it should also be supportive of climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability. In particular, they stressed the critical need to ensure gender equality and promote women’s empowerment as a fundamental precondition and central component of sustainable development.

The Declaration will be shared as a key regional input to global processes that are shaping the post-2015 development agenda with the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals at the General Assembly in September 2013. The OWG is mandated by the Rio+20 Outcome document “The Future We Want” to prepare a proposal on Sustainable Development Goals for consideration by the United Nations General Assembly at its 69th session in 2014.