APFSD 2016: Closing Statement

Delivered at the closing of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development in Bangkok, Thailand.

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

I am pleased to address the closing session of the 2016 Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD). After three days of intensive discussions and productive work, I would like to briefly reflect on the dialogue of member States and other partners, and then highlight the major recommendations and achievements of the Forum.

Dialogue of Member States & Other Partners

The Asia-Pacific region is moving quickly to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. During this year’s APFSD, ESCAP member States have shared their perspectives, progress and challenges in beginning implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including preparations for the national voluntary reviews to be conducted for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July. Five countries in our region are conducting national voluntary reviews, China, Georgia, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea and Samoa. This APFSD provided a valuable platform to share experiences in this process. By way of illustration, let me reflect very briefly on some of what we have heard from these and other countries:

  • The Philippines is integrating the SDGs into national development plans, strategies and policy frameworks at local levels, and has already established national coordinating mechanisms for SDG implementation.
  • Armenia is strengthening inter-ministerial coordination in implementing the 2030 Agenda, building on existing MDG institutional mechanisms.
  • China’s National Assembly has adopted core elements from the 2030 Agenda into its 13th 5-year national development plan. An interagency mechanism for the SDGs has also been established, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and including 43 line ministries and Government agencies. With the G20 Presidency this year, China will also use the September Summit to explore collective plans to implement the 2030 Agenda.
  • The Republic of Korea has restructured its development aid to ensure that development cooperation supports the 2030 Agenda.
  • Nepal’s early efforts have underlined the need for high quality data and statistics for SDG implementation, and for strengthening national statistical capacities – an area of longstanding ESCAP expertise.
  • Indonesia is preparing a presidential regulation for implementation of SDGs at the national level and instituting a national Secretariat that will encompass both Government and civil society organizations.
  • Pakistan has passed a unanimous resolution on SDGs in the National Assembly and the Ministry of Planning and Development has been tasked to prepare a comprehensive national action plan for implementing the SDGs.
  • The 2030 Agenda is also being mainstreamed into subregional processes. Samoa highlighted the important role of regional cooperation, under the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, in coordinating assessments of data readiness, planning and implementation of the SDGs and the SAMOA Pathway.

Rapid implementation has not been limited to national action. During our rich dialogue on urban sustainability, mayors from our region highlighted how cities are seeking to translate global agreements into local action, including strategic long-term planning. They see effective citizen mobilization as essential for successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Some examples of their local-level initiatives include:

  • Efforts underway in Serebang Parai, Malaysia, to align local planning priorities with the SDGs, backed by national standards.
  • Almaty’s efforts to launch a multi-pronged strategy for promoting a sustainable transportation system, which will help to improve air quality.
  • Seoul’s undertaking to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2020 and 40% by 2030.

This is just a short snap-shot of the leadership that Asia-Pacific countries have shown in quickly putting into place the mechanisms to turn ambitious global goals into national action.

Many member States also highlighted the role of ESCAP in bridging national and global endeavours, calling on the secretariat to assist in base-lining data and statistics, as well as supporting implementation of strategies, for example in science, technology and innovation (STI), aligned with the 2030 Agenda.

Major Achievements and Recommendations

While Asia-Pacific countries are moving rapidly on implementation of the ambitious 2030 Agenda, much work remains to bring about the transformations needed – which were also highlighted in the new ESCAP report, Transformations for Sustainable Development: Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Asia and the Pacific, launched with our partners on Sunday. The report underscores a number of Asia-Pacific megatrends that must be harnessed to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda: urbanization, economic and trade integration, rising incomes, changing patterns of production and consumption, as well as the development of cross-border infrastructure, all of which must be aligned with and support sustainable development.

Regional response to the 2030 Agenda

Your APFSD deliberations this year have recommended a concerted and effective regional response to address cross-cutting issues such as poverty alleviation, inequality and inclusiveness; resource use and environmental impacts; as well as economic transformation, through the full range of means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda, to ensure that no one is left behind.

Enhanced partnerships for sustainable development have also been emphasized, especially with city leaders, other subnational stakeholders and civil society.

Several member States have highlighted the need for collaborative efforts on STI to achieve the 2030 Agenda, with supportive efforts to harness the other means of implementation, in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.

Deciding the form and function of the APFSD

In our session this year, member States have made a number of decisions about the future of the APFSD. To recap, the APFSD will continue to be convened annually as an inclusive intergovernmental forum, preparatory to the HLPF. The APFSD will serve to:

  1. Support countries in implementing the 2030 Agenda, in particular developing countries and countries with special needs, including through capacity development.
  2. Provide a regional perspective on implementation of the sustainable development agenda, identifying regional trends, consolidating and sharing best practices and lessons learned. The Forum will also forge linkages with and benefit from contributions by other United Nations system bodies at the regional level, other regional and subregional organizations, and relevant stakeholders.
  3. Support the follow-up and review of progress on the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at the regional level.

With these decisions, Asia and the Pacific has become the first region to give a clear and substantive role to its forum on sustainable development.

Agreeing on the way forward for a regional road map for sustainable development

The 2015 APFSD asked that, in this session, we initiate the development of a regional road map for sustainable development. We have initiated this process and, based on the decisions of the member States, there is now the foundation of a road map. The road map will emphasize support for our developing countries and those with special needs in implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In line with the outcomes of this APFSD, we will now initiate work on a needs-assessment and gap analysis, to define priority areas for cooperation. Based on your advice, and to increase effectiveness, we will promote multi-stakeholder engagement by facilitating inputs, views and support from various stakeholders.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the outcomes of this Forum demonstrate that the countries of Asia and the Pacific are forging ahead and leading global efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. Member States, and especially developing and countries with special needs, have stressed the importance of starting implementation immediately.

There was also a clear call for ESCAP to support efforts for regional cooperation on implementing the SDGs, and you have decided that the APFSD will be, for years to come, the regional platform to share experiences and to strengthen implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The APFSD be in sync with the evolving HLPF framework for follow-up and review, ensuring the emerging demands for reporting are not onerous, and without burdening countries with additional reporting layers.

My thanks go to our Chair, the Vice-Chairs, delegates from our member States, colleagues from United Nations agencies, civil society organizations, as well as our excellent moderators, speakers and discussants. I would also like to thank our secretariat team for all of their hard work.

I thank you and wish you all a safe journey home.