UNESCAP and Thai government lead gathering marking International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Today the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in collaboration with the Government of Thailand marked the 20th Anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in ceremonies at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok.

“Today we mark a day to remember those who continue to live with poverty, violence and hunger”, said Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, in her welcome address to the participants. “Despite the remarkable economic progress of the last two decades, the Asian and the Pacific region is home to more than two thirds of the world’s poor. We gathered here today because fighting poverty still remains our greatest challenge”, she continued.

With “People Living in Poverty as Agents of Change” as the theme of the Day, the commemoration commenced with a singto (lion dance) performance by a homeless community in Bangkok and personal testimonies from representatives of the poor.

In her keynote address, H.E. Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan, Minster of the Prime Minister’s Office, stated that the Thai government has embarked on three major poverty-eradication initiatives guided by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s philosophy of a Sufficient Economy. The three initiatives are the Happiness and Well-being Strategy, Village/Community Development, and Social Development Strategy.

The Minster concluded by saying that “I am sure that the Royal Thai Government and the United Nations will continue working together hand-in-hand in the ‘War on Poverty’ until the victory is ours”.
The Day was also part of the global “Stand Up and Speak Out against Poverty” campaign, which is led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, with all Headquarters staff and representatives of Permanent Missions as well as people throughout the world.

Here in Bangkok, after the official ceremony in the UN Conference Centre, Ms. Noeleen Heyzer, H.E. Khunying Dhipavadee Meksawan and Gwi-Yeop Son, UNDP Resident Coordinatior and UNDP Resident Representative in Thailand, led over 1,000 UN staff, Thai government officials and the public to form a human chain from Makawan Bridge between Government House and the United Nations compound to stand up and speak out against poverty and inequality and demand that governments around the world keep their promises to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Last year, a record of 23.5 million people took part worldwide. The number is expected to double this year, setting another new Guinness World record.

The Commemoration ended with the first screening in Thailand of the award-winning documentary film, Buddha’s Lost Children by Mark Verkerk, at the United Nations Conference Centre.