Closing Statement - Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries

Honourable Chairman Frederick Fono
Your Excellencies
Distinguished Participants, Colleagues

It is a great pleasure for me to address you again at the closing session of the Special Body for Pacific Island Developing Countries. The Special Body is your forum for engaging in a policy dialogue in your areas of priority. It is also the forum to bring to the attention of the Commission the challenges faced by your countries. During the last two days we had a very fruitful engagement on issues of labour policies and national sustainable development strategies as well as the direction of ESCAP’s work programme for the Pacific island countries.

What have we learned from the interactions?

Firstly, there are continuing employment challenges, especially for the youth and women in Pacific communities, and the possible scope for tackling them lies in the effective partnerships with the private sector to create viable economies.

Secondly, a considerable gap exists in investment in human development and building the appropriate capacities. South-South as well as triangular cooperation among countries of Asia and the Pacific would go a long way to address skill development.

Thirdly, while migration and labour mobility to richer counties and within the region, have addressed issues of employment, there is a need to ensure that adequate levels of skills are maintained at home in critical sectors such as health and education.

And fourthly, sustainable national development strategies have to incorporate emerging issues of energy security, food and water security as well as the impact of climate change.

I am pleased to hear your recommendations to address some of these concerns and your emphasis to now “walk the talk” . Your report will be considered by the Commission tomorrow.

I appreciate your suggestions on how ESCAP can serve you better. ESCAP will on its part strengthen its programme in the Pacific on areas such as food, water and energy security, data collection and statistics, disability, gender equality, trade and investment, transfer of technology and disaster mitigation. ESCAP will continue to be your platform for engaging in policy dialogues as well as building greater linkages with Asia. We will also facilitate South-South cooperation, including the sharing of experiences from Asia. I am committed to strengthening the ESCAP Pacific Operations Centre to better serve your needs.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, colleagues,

I would like to thank Honorable Frederick Fono for his excellent chairing of this session of the Special Body. I would also like to thank each one of you for your contributions to this session of the Special Body. And I would also like to express my gratitude to Mr Diarra, the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, for sharing this platform.

I look forward to meeting you shortly at the Reception that I am hosting.