UN, ADB talks in Laos on sustaining development gains in South-East Asia

27 July 2008-Koh-Dach Island, Cambodia-A woman weaving silk, Photo Credit:Kibae Park

Shaping a post-2015 development agenda in South-East Asia was the focus of joint United Nations and Asia Development Bank (ADB) talks in Vientiane, Laos this week as senior officials from nine countries, representatives of regional and sub-regional organizations, civil society and private sector organizations gathered to discuss progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the development priorities of the sub-region.

The Sub-Regional Advocacy Workshop on the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda for South-East Asia was organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), ADB and the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. It is the first in a series of sub-regional consultations on how regional and global cooperation could support the implementation of a sustainable development agenda that will succeed the MDGs after their 2015 target date.

“Now is the time for the countries of the sub-region to come together and strengthen the regional cooperation mechanisms that will help them achieve a post-2015 development agenda,” said ESCAP’s Director of Macroeconomic Policy and Development Division, Mr. Anisuzzaman Chowdhury in Vientiane today.

“In the future, countries of the Asia-Pacific region will need to bring together the three broad pillars of sustainable development – economic prosperity, social equity and environmental sustainability – and replace short-term horizons with longer-term sustained benefits,” echoed Mr. Somchith Inthamith, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment from the Government of Lao PDR in his opening remarks.

Addressing development priorities for the region, Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Lao PDR stressed emerging priorities including, “rapid urbanization, insufficient decent jobs and social protection and rising food insecurity, along with lifestyle-related diseases.”

The three-day workshop served as a platform to discuss the key findings of the 2012/2013 Regional MDGs Report ‘Asia-Pacific Aspirations: Perspectives for a Post-2015 Development Agenda’ and to consult on the critical implementation issues in realizing the post-2015 development agenda – namely financing.

“There are genuine concerns about the risks of unfunded, over ambitious mandates but the opposite view is that if there is a good agenda, money will follow,” explained Ms. Anuradha Rajivan, Advisor, Strategy and Policy Department at ADB, adding that “whichever side of the debate one is on, we will squarely need to address the financing challenge.”

Outcomes from the workshop will inform the final ESCAP/ADB/UNDP Regional MDGs Report, to be published in 2015. The report will contribute to the final global deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda. Going forward, sub-regional consultations will be held later in the year in Central Asia, South and South-West Asia and the Pacific.