Pacific Leaders Promote the Importance of Addressing Inequality at Asia-Pacific UN Session

Pacific countries at the 74th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) have reinforced the importance of addressing existing socio-economic inequalities, which are being further exacerbated by climate change and natural disasters. As a region that records high rates of gender-based violence, the need to address the root causes of inequality and discrimination in the Pacific was highlighted as essential to pursuing peaceful and sustainable development.

Leaders and high-level government officials from the Pacific gathered this week in Bangkok with their counterparts from Asia for the Commission Session which had the theme of ‘Inequality in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands Dr. Hilda Heine chaired the Commission, and opened the Session with President Beretitenti Taneti Maamau of Kiribati, and President of the UN General Assembly H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák of Slovakia.

In her opening statement, President Heine stressed the importance of inclusive and equitable growth, reducing inequalities, promoting gender equality, and fostering equitable social development. These are key features of the SAMOA Pathway, the international framework for the sustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS) agreed in Samoa in 2014. She highlighted the commitments made by Pacific leaders to combat inequality through the Framework for Pacific Regionalism and the landmark 2012 Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration, and emphasized the importance of ESCAP member States working with SIDS to mitigate the unequal impacts of climate change.

President Maamau reiterated the importance of partnerships and innovative policy solutions for small island developing states to overcome the extra burden caused by climate change in their path to achieving equality. President Maamau reminded the Commission that “inter-state inequality in the context of the burden of climate change warrants equal attention”. Pacific countries at the session emphasized the importance of promoting good practices that ensure inclusive and peaceful development, including by mobilizing commitments under the Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), as well as through harnessing traditional resilience systems in support of state-led efforts.

ESCAP is the United Nations Regional Commission for the Asia-Pacific region. Working toward an inclusive and resilient Pacific, the ESCAP Pacific Office (EPO) is a hub for connecting sustainable development expertise, statistics and analysis to Pacific policy makers. ESCAP supports greater regional cooperation and integration in the Pacific to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. ESCAP supports the UN ‘delivering as one’ through the UN Pacific Strategy (UNPS). In 2018, ESCAP is also working closely with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) to support the mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway.

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For further information on ESCAP’s work in the Pacific, please contact Ms. Ly Ngo ([email protected]).