Asia-Pacific Implementation of the Rio+20 Outcomes

UN Undersecretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, with participants at the Asian and Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting on Rio + 20 Outcomes, 22 April 2013 - ESCAP/Wilasluk Aurtaveekul

Excellencies,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Asian and Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting (RIM) on Rio+20 Outcomes – especially on International Earth Day. In the words of the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, this is our “chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature at a time when our planet is under threat from climate change, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and other man-made problems.”

As we start this meeting, I would like to express our appreciation to our partners in the organization of this meeting, ADB and UNEP, who also worked with us in the organization of the preparatory meeting before Rio+20, and with whom we will continue working closely on Rio+20 implementation in Asia and the Pacific.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Changing Development for the Future We Want

Sustainable development is not about the environment alone. Rio+20 made it clear that, for development to be sustainable, it has to integrate and balance all three pillars of sustainable development – the economic, social and the environmental.

Rio+20 also made it clear that, to achieve sustainable development, we need good governance at all levels, and we need stakeholder engagement, including that of civil society and other major groups (of which I am glad to see so many represented here today – you are most welcome).

In other words, realizing the future we want requires economic, social and environmental concerns to be integrated in all policy making, at all levels, and with the close involvement of all key stakeholders, if we are to arrive at truly sustainable development pathways that can meet the needs of both present and future generations – for our people and for our planet.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

First Asia-Pacific Intergovernmental Meeting Post Rio+20

This meeting is an important step on the path to more sustainable development. As our first regional meeting to follow-up on Rio+20, it offers a platform to voice the views and priorities of the countries of Asia and the Pacific in the global processes, and to also outline Rio+20 follow up at the regional level.

Over the course of the next three days, we will discuss regional perspectives about the institutional framework that is being forged – at both global and regional levels; on the creation of Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs), and their relationship to the Post-2015 development agenda; and on the needs and requirements for means of implementation, in particular sustainable development financing and technology transfer.

Last but not least, this meeting will be our chance to distil key national and regional priorities to ensure that ESCAP, and the wider UN system, can better support our member States in implementing the Rio+20 outcomes.

This meeting also comes at a critical time, as negotiations for the establishment of a high-level political platform to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) are already underway. We cannot miss this opportunity to work together to shape meaningful institutional change.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Rio+20 and the Post-2015 Development Agenda

As you know, global negotiations are defining the post-2015 global development agenda. While these discussions have proceeded along separate tracks thus far, Rio+20 clearly stipulated that the process to develop the Sustainable Development Goals should be coherent and consistent with the process to outline the post-2015 development agenda. We hope to hear your views on how to bring these processes together, so that we have one universal development framework that is sensitive to the different development experiences and needs of our countries.

The post-2015 development agenda discussions in Asia and the Pacific appear to agree on many specific issues of shared priority – such as poverty reduction, reducing disparities and inequality, and improving food and water security. There are, however, also some points of divergence that must be addressed, such as how best to bring about systems change for more inclusive low carbon economies that are high on poverty reduction and job creation.

I look forward to the views of this meeting on these issues as we work towards the development of the SDGs and their relationship to the post-2015 development agenda.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regional Leadership on Sustainable Development

With the economic rise of Asia and the Pacific, we have an unprecedented opportunity to show that the region is both able and willing to take a lead in contributing solutions to the challenge of creating a more economically stable, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable and inclusive world, in line with the Rio+20 outcome. We must seize this opportunity to develop a pathway to more sustainable and inclusive prosperity.

Rio+20 provided a strong mandate for action at the regional level, by recognizing the “need to ensure effective linkage among global, regional, subregional and national processes to advance sustainable development” and noting that “regional frameworks can complement and facilitate effective translation of sustainable development policies into concrete action at the national level”. It further emphasized that “regional and subregional organizations, including the United Nations regional commissions and their subregional offices, have a significant role to play in promoting a balanced integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in their respective regions”.

With this in mind, we propose to devote the second day of this meeting to discussing the needs and priorities of countries, the need for regional frameworks, and the role of the ESCAP secretariat and the wider UN system in supporting Rio+20 implementation at the regional and subregional levels.

We very much look forward to your views on how we, along with our partners, UNEP and the Asian Development Bank, can support you in this endeavour.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Conclusion

In conclusion, let us recall the saying “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. However, the countries of our region are taking more than just single steps, more often, and going further to ensure truly sustainable development.

This journey may be long, and sometimes challenging, but it is a journey we must take. It is the only path available to us if we want to ensure that the world that we hand to our children will be one of intergenerational prosperity.

Together, we can build the momentum in regional cooperation to advance towards an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable Asia and Pacific. Together, we can move towards development paths which enable us all to grow in a more inclusive and sustainable way, for all the people of our region.

I wish you the very best for this meeting and a very pleasant stay in Bangkok.

I thank you.