UN Calls on Asian Businesses to Unlock Economic, Development Potential of all of Asia-Pacific

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP posed with high-level speakers at the APBF 2013.

10th Asia-Pacific Business Forum: Connecting the Pacific with Asia

Policy makers, business leaders and experts from Asia-Pacific countries ended two days of discussions led by the United Nations in Bangkok yesterday, calling for Asian businesses to take up business opportunities in the Pacific.

The tenth Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF), a regional multi-stakeholder business conference convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) this year, focused on Connecting the Pacific with Asia, identifying the challenges and opportunities for connecting business in the Asia-Pacific region, within the context of achieving inclusive and sustainable development.

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary, set the stage for discussions by highlighting the importance of regional integration, connectivity and collaboration: “Through enhanced cooperation between governments and businesses we can unlock the economic and development potential of all parts of Asia-Pacific – forging greater connectivity and integration.”

Key conclusions of the forum included the importance of ICT and trade facilitation for improving connectivity between the Pacific region and Asia. The meeting also addressed issues related to the importance of the private sector in providing disaster relief, as well as sustainability and corporate responsibility, and the importance of direct business mentoring of small and medium enterprises (SME).

“The business community needs to lead from the front in the wise stewardship of resources and concern for the common good, including staying cost-competitive by conserving land, water, energy and minerals, as well as by reducing waste and encouraging reuse and recycling,” said Dr. Heyzer. “It also means ensuring the highest labour standards, industrial safety and environmental protection.”

Challenging forum members to aim to mentor 10,000 SMEs in the next ten years, Dr. Heyzer also stressed: “The SME sector plays a key role in job creation, innovation and economic growth. We need more leadership by established business in mentoring these entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, many of whom are working in the informal sector."

Dr. Heyzer closed with a call for APBF in the next ten years, “to build on a decade of dialogue and engagement, and prepare for a decade of action and achievement in building a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable region for all the people of Asia and the Pacific.”

For more information and to access presentation materials of the Forum, please visit: http://apbf.unescap.org/.