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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

21 January 2021

Keynote Remarks


Excellency Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey,

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The membership of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) shares common development challenges and opportunities in their advancement towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Over the past decades, ACD member countries have invested significantly to raise their socio-economic development and technological opportunities.

Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely reduced economic growth prospects during 2020, leading to a sharp fall in jobs, tourism revenues, and trade and investment inflows. Governments are undertaking pro-active policies to address these new and emerging development and pandemic-induces crisis to adequately safeguards people’s health and well-being, while aiming to protect lives and to rebuild economies.

Today, we must work to recover better together and focus on inclusivity, resilience and sustainability in all aspects of our cooperation.

May I take this opportunity to highlight three policy priorities for your considerations:

First, let us enhance cooperation across member states in transport and trade sectors. There is a clear need for authorities to ensure stronger regional mechanisms for resilient trade recovery, and to facilitate investment flows. By strengthening freight transport policy, member States can ensure seamless flow of goods, especially for the landlocked developing countries in the ACD.

The Framework on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific is another significant initiative since 2012, to pursue trade digitalization and to support regional programmes. This UN treaty is now set to enter into force on 20 February 2021 after the ratification by China and Bangladesh.

ESCAP, in collaboration with ACD countries and other members in the region, is promoting smart connectivity along the Asian Highway Network and the Trans-Asian Railway Network that is supporting the development and implementation of smart transport solutions.

Second, we must emphasize greening the post-COVID-19 recovery.  The Asia-Pacific region accounted for more than half of the annual increase in global CO2 emissions. Air pollution is another challenge in our region, especially across bigger cities. Member countries need to focus on climate mitigation and adaptation with particular emphasis on renewable energy, energy transition through SDG 7 roadmap.

ESCAP, together with member States, are also currently utilizing regional cooperation architecture such as Geostationary Environment Monitoring Spectrometer (GEMS) to mitigate air pollution by monitoring air quality data from space and ground networks.

We have further initiated several projects in supporting member States to develop national SDG 7 roadmaps. A region-wide energy policy solutions and power system connectivity could increase the share of renewables and energy efficiency.

Third, let us focus on increasing exchanges of best practices, knowledge and experiences across member States. By strengthening these sharing of exchanges, ACD policymakers can learn from experiences of their peers and explore mutually beneficial collaboration on areas such as connectivity, technology and related aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals.

By developing joint technical cooperation programmes, ACD Secretariat could further promote and support implementation of regional solutions-oriented projects.

ESCAP, along with the UN family in our region, is committed to working closely with ACD Secretariat, member States and stakeholders.

Thank you very much for your attention. 

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