Asia-Pacific Political Leaders Meet to Agree Regional Economic Recovery Steps

UN Session in Korea Seeks Green Growth Solutions for Long-term Economic Recovery

Government leaders of the Asia-Pacific region at a UN meeting in Korea today proposed common economic and financial measures aimed at ensuring Asia 's early rebound from the global economic crisis will foster broader economic growth across the Asia Pacific region.

" The opportunity is now for Asia Pacific to emerge as a leader in the global economy, in the realm of social progress, and in safeguarding our global environment ," said Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). " The crisis of the past two years underscores the threat that global economic shifts continue to hold for the region. We remain vulnerable to the man-made shocks of global capital flows and food and fuel price increases, and we are vulnerable to natural shocks and disasters and the increasing threat of climate change."

Agreeing to common regional development policies, including Green Growth and financial infrastructure measures, is the focus of the annual high-level meeting including heads of state and cabinet ministers of some 60 countries in the Asia pacific arm of the United Nations.

"The economic performance of Asia's least developed countries remains fragile," said H.E. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the People's Republic of Bangladesh . "To sustain the momentum and build upon it, the development partners have to work with – and, more importantly, fulfil their promises -- to the LDCs."

The Republic of Korea is hosting the 66 th Session of the Commission, which includes representatives of 53 Asia Pacific member states and nine associate states. An opening address was delivered by the Prime Minister of Korea, Mr. Chung Un-chan.

"Over the last six decades, ESCAP has been playing a central role in the remarkable progress made by the Asia-Pacific region in the economic, social and environmental fields," said the Prime Minister Un-chan. "Today's Commission Session gives us a chance to engage in profound and meaningful discussions on how Green Growth and the reform of the international financial architecture can help the Asia-Pacific region to achieve the Millennium Development Goals".

The Commission Session seeks agreement across the region for adopting Green Growth and sustainable clean technology approaches to development, joining businesses and governments together in that effort.

"In support of developing countries in East Asia moving toward the new paradigm of Low Carbon Green Growth, Korea is promoting the East Asia Climate Partnership providing a financial contribution of 200 million USD in total," reported the Minister of Trade for Korea , Mr. Kim Jong-hoon at the start of a Ministerial roundtable discussion. "For providing systematical support to other developing countries to promote Green Growth, the government will establish an independent research institution called the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) in the first half of this year."

Asia and the Pacific was the fastest-growing region in the world in the past year achieving an annual growth rate of 4 per cent thanks to China (8.7) and India (7.2) according to the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2010, a publication of ESCAP published two weeks ago. However, the report finds that the rest of Asia-Pacific's developing economies contracted in 2009 by 0.6 per cent.

The Survey also finds that, although the outlook for 2010 is significantly improved with a forecasted growth of 7 per cent, a sustained, long term development for all economies within the region relies on creating greater intra-regional trade and accelerating the development of an Asia-Pacific consumer market. ESCAP has offered to the Commission Session a number of regional policy recommendations for inclusive and sustainable growth, such as strengthening social protections, promoting agricultural and rural development, and enhancing financial inclusion.

Policy recommendations include increasing social spending that directly supports household income security by providing nutrition, education and access to health care, reducing the need for poorer families to maintain precautionary savings to protect against economic downturns.

Monday also marks the opening of the North East Asia subregional office of ESCAP in Incheon. The subregional office is meant to serve as a driver within ESCAP for Green Growth policies, especially given the leadership role that the Republic of Korea and Incheon Metropolitan City have taken in pursuing a green growth future for North East Asia.

ESCAP, founded in 1947, is the regional arm of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific, representing 62 percent of the world's population. The Republic of Korea is hosting the 66th Commission Session in Incheon, nearly two decades after it hosted the 47 th session in Seoul in 1991. The Incheon Metropolitan City is host to the session, which brings together 62 member governments and concludes on 19 May.