ESCAP Executive Secretary meets with Prime Minister of India

Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific met this morning with the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Manmohan Singh.

At the one-on-one meeting, Ms. Heyzer briefed the Prime Minister on the key issues that ESCAP intended to focus on in the years ahead: food and energy security, water and sanitation and climate change -- which as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had emphasized -- was not only an environmental but a development issue. ESCAP, Ms. Heyzer added, would be the platform to bring to the fore the Asia and the Pacific perspective on these issues and would work to strengthen subregional and South-South cooperation. She also highlighted the need for regional mechanisms to deal with the current financial volatility. She proposed the establishment of a strategic group of Heads of State or Government from the region to carry forward regional initiatives and invited the Prime Minister to such a meeting. She also informed the Prime Minister about the ASEAN-UN Summit to be held in Bangkok in December.

The Prime Minister congratulated Ms. Heyzer on her appointment and expressed his appreciation for the new directions envisaged for ESCAP. He gave full support to the idea of Heads of States coming together for strategic dialogues using the ESCAP platform. He also expressed strong support for the critical issues addressed by ESCAP as these have far-reaching consequences for the future of the region.

Although there are several regional forums dealing with similar issues, he stressed that ESCAP is the voice of the UN in the region and could provide the platform for multilateral approaches to common problems and solutions. He also emphasized the need for countries of the region to share and replicate best practices, stating that ESCAP could be the appropriate forum and facilitator to coordinate such activities.