CS74: Closing Statement

Delivered at 74th Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand

Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates

Your discussions over the past few days, have demonstrated this region’s determination to support a common agenda for inclusive sustainable development. Let me from the outset thank you for your active participation in the sessions on inequality, multilateralism, and frontier technologies and for concluding targeted resolutions which will guide ESCAP’s work. The national perspectives you have provided on the development challenges we face, and on the measures which are being deployed to overcome them, have been valuable. They provide a firm basis for continued analysis, sharing of best practice, capacity building and multilateral solutions across our region.

Our discussions on how to tackle inequality were especially important. We cannot allow inequalities to continue widening, as they have done since 2000. The economic and social costs are too high. But in considering how to reduce the gap between rich and poor, I am pleased we examined the potential impact of frontier technologies, the weaknesses of the multilateral and global governance mechanisms, and how the region needs to move to support sustainable development and avoid a digital divide. Your responses to our publications in these areas have been helpful, as have our discussions on how Asia-Pacific can strengthen a multilateral approach to global governance.

But let me highlight some specific areas on which this Commission has made progress.

This Commission has been able to agree a resolution on strengthening regional cooperation to tackle inequality in all its forms in Asia and the Pacific. This will give momentum to our work to reduce and alleviate poverty by investing in social protection systems that promote access to essential services, resources and decent jobs – especially for the most vulnerable. It will support efforts to reduce exposure to environmental degradation, pollution and disasters. Innovation-driven development strategies that respond to global trends in science and technology and industrial transformation are clearly essential to ensure inclusive development. As is enhanced regional connectivity – designed in sync with multilateral principles, which we will continue to deepen in accordance with our regional roadmap.

I am pleased we were able to reach consensus on a resolution focused on supporting the smooth transition of the least developed countries (LDCs) in Asia and the Pacific towards sustainable graduation. This recognises the excellent progress made by many LDCs, ten of which have met the criteria for graduation. But also, that LDCs continue to face important development challenges, and that a regional approach to analysis, cooperation and support is vital.

You have reaffirmed the importance of driving forward work on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, CRVS, and improving disaster-related statistics in Asia and the Pacific. Effective CRVS systems help protect peoples’ human rights and ensure no one is left behind. Disaster related statistics are critical to inform risk mitigation measures and measure progress towards the Sendai Framework of Disaster Risk Reduction.

These are both areas where strengthened coordination and knowledge sharing can make an enormous impact. So, I am pleased you agreed on a resolution committing us to organize a Ministerial Conference in 2020 to review our implementation of the CRVS Regional Action Framework, and to continue supporting the development of disaster-related statistics using the framework of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction Sendai Monitoring.

Two important resolutions have been agreed on transport policy.

We will continue work to improve road safety in our region, and collectively ensure we achieve the objective of halving the number of global deaths and injuries by 2020 and to provide safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all by 2030. Now is the time to strengthen regional collaboration, put road safety plans into action, implement driver qualification frameworks and improve emergency response services.

The implementation of the regional framework for the planning, design, development and operation of dry ports of international importance, is key for regional connectivity. Dry ports are central to sustainable, integrated and intermodal transport and logistical systems. This area is inherently transboundary, so it’s right we work to share best practices in planning and design, development and operation of dry ports, and build on existing intergovernmental agreements.

By adopting the Beijing declaration and action plan to accelerate the implementation of the Incheon strategy for persons with disabilities, member States have shown commendable determination to build inclusive, resilient societies where persons with disabilities are respected and valued. By agreeing a resolution with this focus, the Commission has prioritized ‘making the right real’ for persons with disabilities across Asia and the Pacific.

ESCAP takes careful note of your requests to continue with our research and data analysis in these areas. We stand ready to provide technical assistance and capacity building on policies and programmes upon your request. You can count on ESCAP to support the regional cooperation on policy coordination to reduce extreme poverty and tackle inequality.

To conclude, I would like to thank our Commission Bureau, our excellent Chair. I appreciate the work of The Chairs and Vice Chairs of the two Committees of the Whole and the Working Group on Draft Resolutions. I would also like to express our continued gratitude to our gracious hosts, the Royal Thai Government, for their hospitality and support.

And I would like to thank the ESCAP secretariat staff. They have worked tirelessly to make this 74th session of our Commission a success. The Secretary of the Commission, his team, Division Heads and their staff, the conference support staff, interpreters, security staff, and staff from across our divisions have demonstrated great dedication and commitment, for which I am grateful.

Thank you all once again for honouring us with your presence. I wish you a safe journey home.