Welcome Statement - 65th Commission Session
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome you all to the sixty-fifth session of the Commission, as we commence with the senior officials segment today.
I had freshly taken the reigns of ESCAP when we first met during last years Commission Session. At that point we had established a vision of what ESCAP could achieve. Since then we have made considerable progress in transforming the secretariat into a regional hub for sharing development practices, policy options and building consensus on a range of economic, social and environmental issues.
Let me quickly highlight some of our shared successes.
By anticipating the financial crises ESCAP was able to position our work in the macroeconomics and trade to provide strategic advice to policy makers through the provision of guidelines and surveys. We have also improved our focus on countries with special needs, particularly Pacific Island States, as well as least developed and land-locked developing countries.
The Social Development Division has restructured itself in order to address social policy and protection issues in a more integrated manner. My call for an improved foundation for social security in our region in response to the economic crises is supported by their work.
ESCAP’s contribution to promoting the “Low Carbon Development Path“ and “Green Growth” has been acknowledged by many member States. The Sustainable Energy Framework introduced by ESCAP in the theme study for the 64th Commission session continues to attract a lot of attention as a basis for energy policy formulation in countries of the region.
ESCAP’s work on the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway Networks are at a vital stage. With the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network coming into force on 11 June, the region will also have new opportunities to promote a modal shift to more sustainable energy efficient rail transport, a critical component of low carbon infrastructure.
Our work in ICT and development has focused on regional ICT applications, capacity development and integration with other development sectors. ESCAP is applying this new capacity to the field of disaster risk reduction.
I have also focused on ESCAPs role as the regional arm of the UN. This work includes strengthening the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), which is now being held up as an example of good UN practice in terms of producing results based on strong partnerships.
While there is much to be proud of in these achievements, there is much that is left to be done, especially in the context of the present uncertainties. We commence today faced with the triple threat of the economic crisis, continued food-fuel security issues and climate change. No country in the region has been spared from the impact of these hard times. While financial policy reforms taken in 1997 have helped buffer us from the worst of the current problems, much remains to be done. We therefore need to strengthen ESCAP to in order to support countries so that it can support it members states better in their efforts to address the trip threats.
We have repositioned ESCAP through the creation of eight committees which address key areas of concern to member States. The challenge now is to make them more useful as platforms for promoting regional cooperation among member states. I seek your advice and input in this regard.
The approval of three new subregional offices of ESCAP and the strengthening of ESCAP Pacific Operations Centre by the General Assembly, will allow ESCAP to support its membership more effectively through improved targeting and delivery of ESCAP’s technical cooperation programmes. I look to your assistance in helping to ensure that these offices fulfill their potential as subregional hubs addressing specific needs of their mandated areas.
This is a time of great opportunity. While there is an increasing acknowledgement of the regional dimensions of global issues and the challenges facing their response, there is also a better understanding of the need to build consensus and leverage resources to improve regional cooperation. By working together the Asia Pacific region can meet current challenges, and emerge a leader in the new economy. Let us continue to work together- and we in the secretariat stand ready to support your efforts in every possible manner. Without coordination and cooperation at the regional level, the efforts initiated by many member States will not realize their full potential. Your outputs and recommendations should provide clear, concrete inputs for the ministerial segment next week. A commitment needs to be generated at the highest political levels for regional cooperation to reverse the tide and restore our region on its path of inclusive and sustainable development.
I thank you.