Friday, 19 May 2017 - The 73rd Commission session closed with the adoption of nine resolutions.
The resolutions covered, among other areas: strengthening the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries; advancing integrated and seamless connectivity for sustainable development; promoting transport connectivity and; sustainable energy development; strengthening regional support for the UN Oceans Conference; fostering regional cooperation to support the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; and the regional road map for SDG implementation.
The last day opened with a High-level Preparatory Consultation on Oceans and Seas in Asia-Pacific, hosted by the Government of Fiji, ahead of the UN Oceans Conference next month.
At the Ministerial panel on the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017, delegates identified the importance of effective governance and fiscal management , given the high demands on fiscal policy to address the diverse challenges to sustainable development. The panel reviewed some of the challenges faced by countries in improving institutional frameworks to enhance their fiscal management, and promote development of the financial sector.
Panelists at a luncheon side event on Sustainable Social Development in Asia-Pacific for Achieving the 2030 Agenda hosted by the Government of Sri Lanka, stressed that despite impressive economic growth and noticeable poverty reduction, significant social development gaps remain in the region.
Delegates also shared experiences and priorities for strengthening social development, particularly investments in social protection.
Over the past two days, Asia-Pacific leaders, senior ministers and high-level officials have taken the floor to share their respective country statements and views on policy issues towards achieving sustainable development through regional economic cooperation and integration.
Webcasts of the 73rd Commission session proceedings are available on YouTube.
Thursday, 18 May 2017 - This morning, panelists at the High-level Dialogue on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration (RECI) in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stressed the importance of ICT development and connectivity as a starting point for RECI. Delegates also highlighted the need to foster dynamic subregional institutional arrangements that align with the global development agenda.
During the lunch break, the Government of Bangladesh hosted a side-event on Empowering the Excluded with Affordable and Clean Energy, where ESCAP member States shared best practices and national projects on renewable energy aimed at marginalized populations who have yet to benefit from national power grids.
A second side-event on Building Regional Resilience to Water-related Disaster Risks was also hosted by the Government of Japan. In his keynote address, Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu Mr. Joe Natuman shared his country's recent experience in facing Tropical Cyclone Donna, and the need to enhance cross-border regional disaster warning assets to promote disaster resilience.
In the afternoon, the Ministerial Roundtable on the Theme Study of the 73rd Commission session: Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Energy in Asia and the Pacific reviewed the current energy landscape and emerging trends in the region, including energy demand, changing demographic patterns and social priorities, and building impetus to decarbonize the energy sector.
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 - A historic exhibition marking ESCAP’s 70th Anniversary drew the attention of delegates today, along with a commemorative documentary video which was screened at the opening of the Ministerial segment, highlighting the extraordinary transformation of the region and ESCAP’s achievements over the last 70 years.
The opening was marked by the traditional flag parade, featuring ESCAP’s 53 member States and 9 associate members. In a video message celebrating ESCAP’s 70th Anniversary, United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Antonio Guterres hailed Asia and the Pacific as a leading South-South provider, and applauded ESCAP’s efforts to reduce poverty, protect the environment and realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Shamshad Akhtar delivered her policy statement, emphasizing that ESCAP has, over the years, reformed and reinvented itself to serve the needs of the region, finding multilateral solutions to regional problems. “With unwavering commitment to UN principles, we promote multilateralism, inclusiveness and openness, and these principles are still pertinent today as we look to the future and address growing inequalities,” said Dr. Akhtar.
Prime Minister of Tuvalu Mr. Enele Sosene Sopoaga, who was elected to Chair of the session, added that the greatest challenge of our time is climate change, particularly for vulnerable island countries like Tuvalu, and that the 2030 Agenda cannot be achieved unless the issue is effectively addressed.
Other speakers at the Ministerial opening included: H.E. Dr. Ly Thuch, Cambodian Senior Minister and Chairman of the National Committee for ESCAP; H.E. General Tanasak Patimapragorn, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand; H.E. Mr. Tommy Esang Remengesau Jr., President of the Republic of Palau; Ms. Helen Clark, former Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme; and H.E. Ambassador Dessima Williams, Special Adviser on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, on behalf of the President of the General Assembly.
After the opening session, the High-level Exchange on Infrastructure and Sustainable Development in the Asia-Pacific LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS revealed large gaps in infrastructure development in countries with special needs. ESCAP's 2017 Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs Development Report showed that resources equivalent to an estimated 10.5 per cent of GDP will need to be invested in infrastructure development per year in these countries.
Tuesday, 16 May 2017 - The second day of the 73rd Commission session began with the Special Body on Least Developed, Landlocked Developing and Pacific Island Developing Countries, where delegates called on the international community to recognize the extreme vulnerabilities and challenges faced by countries with special needs, particularly in dealing with natural disasters. Participants underlined the importance of mobilizing the necessary finances to implement the SDGs, and emphasized that Least Developed Countries (LDCs) will need to build resilience in order to maintain sustainable development in the long-term.
In her opening statement at the Special Body, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Dr. Akhtar highlighted key findings from ESCAP's latest report on countries with special needs, which shows that infrastructure development and financing must be seen as crucial priorities for these countries.
"In order to fill funding gaps and overcome challenges, governments in countries with special needs need clear financing strategies and capacity development for effective long-term planning," said Dr. Akhtar. "This group of countries represents the majority of our member States and constitutes the key to our success in regional developmental efforts through implementation of the 2030 Agenda."
Alongside these discussions, delegates began deliberations on a series of draft resolutions to be put before the Commission once the Ministerial segment opens on Wednesday afternoon. These include focusing on strengthening the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway and energy and transport connectivity, along with seeking to ensure the region works together to overcome its vulnerabilities to natural disasters.
In the afternoon, the Government of Mongolia hosted a high-level luncheon for representatives of Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) to discuss how the International Think Tank for LLDCs can be utilized to support implementation of the SDGs, and the Vienna Programme of Action for LLDCs for the Decade 2014-2024.
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