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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

30 May 2022


Excellency Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand,

Excellency Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN,

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome all of you to the Sixth High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand and ESCAP.

We meet here today amidst the unfortunate circumstance of multiple crises.  The world is slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and its profound socioeconomic impacts as well as dealing with the persistent effects of climate change and the current global developments.

Collectively, these events have complicated the trajectory towards sustainable development in the region and in some cases reversed decades of hard-won development gains.

ESCAP estimates that the pandemic has pushed approximately 85 million people back into extreme poverty. Furthermore, some 829 million informal workers across the region have been hit the hardest due to a lack of job security, low skills and the absence of social safety nets.

As a result, this has widened existing high inequalities between and within countries in the region, not only in terms of incomes but also opportunities.

Moreover, the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation that is prevalent throughout the region are severe and unevenly distributed, bringing the greatest burden to the poorest and most vulnerable groups.

At present, the geopolitical crises, especially the multifaceted implications of the Russia-Ukraine crisis have wide-ranging global impacts to developing nations, including in South-East Asia, resulting in slower growth, rising inflation and disrupted trade and economic activities.

In times like these, ambitious actions are needed to change course and regain momentum to accelerate progress across a range of development challenges.

In this regard, it is highly relevant that ASEAN and the United Nations have been working together to promote the complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Recognizing the importance of partnerships for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the high-level brainstorming dialogue offers a unique opportunity for dialogue to coordinate our efforts.

As countries strive to prepare for a post-COVID-19 era, ASEAN needs to align development pathways with a common agenda to achieve inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development.

In this regard, the purpose of the discussion today is to underscore the importance of the impact of the current global events on ASEAN and to see what the UN and partners can do to mitigate the global risks and to coordinate efforts for a joint response.

Allow me to highlight a few areas of policy directions:

First, we must place the SDGs at the core of the national and subnational development agenda. The entire Asia-Pacific region is not on track to achieve any of 17 Goals by 2030.

Therefore, there is an increased urgency to ensure that policy packages in the recovery phase in the South-East Asia subregion and at the national level regain momentum in accelerating progress toward the Goals.

Second, steering policy actions and reforms towards more inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth.

For more than two years, the pandemic has squeezed the fiscal space of governments, thereby requiring public expenditures to now focus on sectors that have the largest impact on inequality, poverty and long-term growth.

More ambitious climate action should be prioritized as greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise rapidly in the region, and the use of renewable energy falls well short of the targets set out in the Goals.

Lastly, fostering regional cooperation is needed to build forward better, and where multilateral cooperation not only matters but also is crucial.

Therefore, we must capitalize on this important year when several ASEAN member States are leading multilateral forums. Besides Cambodia serving as Chair of ASEAN, Indonesia is the G20 Chair and Thailand is leading APEC. These forums provide a great platform to support regional cooperation and integration as well as promote multilateralism. 

Cooperation across the APEC and G20 countries as well as ASEAN dialogue partners, and international organizations may support technology transfer and capacity building to effectively address climate change, joint efforts on key environmental issues and tackle socioeconomic challenges stemming from the crisis.

For our part, the ESCAP and ASEAN partnership has grown over the years through engagements to deliver meaningful regional and national projects.

We look forward to continuing this cooperation as we navigate out of the crises and refocus on progress in the 2030 Agenda.

In closing, I wish all of you a very fruitful meeting.

Thank you very much.

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