UNESCAP News Services
Date: 23 May 2011
Press Release No: L/27/2011
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
23 May 2011
Dr. Noeleen Heyzer
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and
Executive Secretary of ESCAP
23 May 2011
Your Excellency, Mr. Abhisit Vejjajiva, Prime Minister of the Royal Thai Government
Your Excellency, Mr. Jigme Thinley, Prime Minister of the Royal Government of Bhutan
Your Excellency Mr. Enkhbold Miyegombo, Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia
Your Excellency, Mr. Lotoala Metia, Tuvalu, Acting Chair of the 66th Session of the Commission
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to you all to the sixty-seventh session of the Commission.
I would like first to express my deep appreciation to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your presence here to inaugurate this session.
Mr. Prime Minister,
On behalf of all ESCAP member States, I would like to express our gratitude to the Kingdom of Thailand for its commitment to the United Nations, and for graciously hosting this Commission Session.
It is my honour to read the message of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon.
UN SG QUOTE
It is a pleasure to greet the sixty-seventh session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
You gather at a challenging time for the Asia-Pacific region and for the world. The global economy is recovering from the economic crisis, and Asia is helping to lead the way. We must stay focused on ensuring sustainable economic growth that benefits all countries and all people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.
As the regional arm of the United Nations, ESCAP provides a unique platform for countries to share experiences and find solutions.
Your emphasis on social protection is particularly fitting. The Asia-Pacific region is home to nearly two-thirds of humanity, and its people are part of the most dynamic economic and social transformations that the world has seen. While Asia’s economic prosperity has helped lift millions out of poverty, hundreds of millions more remain trapped across the region.
Natural disasters make our work harder. The tragedy in Japan, earthquakes in New Zealand and Indonesia, and devastating floods in Pakistan have all taken lives, reversed hard-earned development gains and threatened to slow economic recovery and growth.
ESCAP continues to focus on the daily, real-world problems and challenges that confront the people of Asia and the Pacific. I commend the professionalism and team work of the ESCAP staff in assisting Member States in their efforts to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.
I also thank the Government and people of Thailand for their strong support of the Commission, and for graciously hosting this session.
My gratitude to you all and best wishes for the success of your discussions.
END UN SG QUOTE
Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is my fourth Commission session as Executive Secretary and it is a significant benchmark in our collective development journey. We are stronger in presence and stronger in voice. We face challenges that are global in scale, and more than ever, require us to build upon our collective strengths as Asia Pacific to lead and respond. ESCAP was created so that the peoples of Asia Pacific can meet together, hold together and advance together to build a more inclusive, sustainable future with regional solutions to development challenges.
More than ever, Asia Pacific needs a strong regional platform. Asia’s continuing economic recovery from the global financial crisis of 2009 offers immediate opportunities for our collective action in promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth within the Asia Pacific region. Together, we need to identify the problems before us, but also the solutions. We can develop a common understanding of the challenges, and find consensus on the way forward, to make this a sustained economic recovery.
Despite the economic rebound of today, we cannot take our overall development for granted. The crisis of the past two years underscores the threat that global economic shifts continue to hold for the region. We remain vulnerable to the man-made shocks of global capital flows and food and fuel price increases, and we are vulnerable to natural shocks and disasters and the increasing threat of climate change to alter our ecological balance.
The region’s new economic growth drivers, our growing urbanization, and the continuing migration of people, within our countries and across our sub regions, requires a new commitment by our governments to institute social protections to generate and secure the benefits of economic growth for all the people of the Asia Pacific region.
At the crossroads, it is up to us to decide – to shrink from these challenges or to seize the opportunity afforded by them to take a new path for our common development. We can harness our collective economic power, our talents and our resources to close our development gap and reach our potential as a region.
Working together, we can invest our financial capital in regional economic growth through developing economic corridors for increased intra-regional trade and investment, and improved connectivity between our countries. These are the straight forward steps necessary to sustain the present economic rebound.
But we can go beyond that as well, Asia Pacific can shape the forces of the economic recovery by investing in its people, its human capital, by strengthening the social dimension of our extraordinary growth and implementing social protection as a an integral part of national development.
As we progress to the next level in our shared development journey, it is time to move from individual country strengths to collective regional strengths; introducing balance back into our economic and social order; to develop common regional positions and solutions to global problems; to address the disparities in our region; to value the gifts of our earth.
The opportunity is now for Asia Pacific to emerge as a leader: in the global economy, in the realm of social progress, and in safeguarding our global environment. Asia Pacific’s development relies on our ability to achieve three balances on our shared development journey.
First, balance between our economic growth, our social needs and the limits of the earth: the three interconnected pillars of development;
Second, balance between the individual and the collective; how to transform the initiative of each into the common good for all; and
Third, balance between the power of the market and the power of the state: the global financial crisis of the past two years underscores the limits of relying solely on the market to correct itself and the dangers of over-regulation by the state.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year’s Commission session focuses on our ability to harness the enormous economic transformation underway in Asia and the Pacific today, and to seek to sustain, through this transformation, the greatest social and economic advancement ever known by the people of Asia and Pacific.
A concerted effort by governments across the region to adopt social protections and social policies to not only respond to and protect the people of our region from immediate economic setbacks and natural disaster shocks, but also to solidify the gains of the economic recovery underway, and to improve the lives of the people of Asia and the Pacific.
And, a renewed regional focus on joining our private sector and government efforts together, to use our wealth to address a range of economic, social and environmental challenges. Responsible public private partnerships can benefit all, allowing the power of the marketplace to achieve public good.
These are the innovative tools and policies that ESCAP promotes together with our member States as we work in common effort to close the development gap, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in our region.
Distinguished Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a region, the time to act is now. More than ever we need a strong regional platform as Asia Pacific is resetting itself and investing in itself on an agreed-upon development pathway. ESCAP as the regional arm of the United Nations is your platform, the Commission is your UN regional assembly, and we – the UN system, working through the regional coordination mechanism to deliver as one at the regional level - are here to support you.
By working together as a region, we can seize the opportunity for deeper transformation to build more resilient societies and economies for a future based on shared prosperity, social progress and environmental sustainability across the whole of Asia Pacific.
I thank you.
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Headquartered in Bangkok, United Nations ESCAP is the largest of the UN's five Regional Commissions in terms of its membership, population served and area covered. The only inter-governmental forum covering the entire Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP works to promote sustainable and inclusive economic and social progress. More information on ESCAP is available at www.unescap.org