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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

24 April 2024

ES ESCAP

Excellency, Mr. Henry Puna, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS),

Ms. Rabab Fatima, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to express our appreciation and thanks to our co-organizers, PIFS and The Pacific Community (SPC), along with the Governments of Fiji and Papua New Guinea, for your valuable partnership and support.

In the Pacific, 12 of our member States are small island developing States  (SIDs) constrained by their unique geographical situation and structural impediments in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Sustainable digital technologies and connectivity have been identified as one of the thematic areas in the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan 2023-2030, endorsed by the Pacific leaders in 2023.

In light of the Fourth United Nations International Conference on SIDS next month in Antigua and Barbuda, may I highlight three action points in strengthening regional and subregional cooperation to maximize the socio-economic development impact of digital transformation.

First of all, we need to ensure that digital technologies drive inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.

In enabling policy, legal and regulatory institutions and frameworks, Governments should direct investment in the development of infrastructure that supports innovation and digital skills.

We are leading the establishment of a Pacific Internet exchange point, which is expected to improve the quality and speed of Internet traffic in the Pacific SIDS. This increase in connectivity, together with ICT infrastructure, will support socioeconomic development.

Additionally, we need to leverage digital transformation strategies for the advancement of climate action and disaster risk reduction efforts.

With the support of multilateral development banks and collaboration through public-private partnerships, there are several new and emerging opportunities to accelerate climate action.

ESCAP, in collaboration with several organizations, is using frontier technologies and digital solutions to drive transformative adaptation, including through the utilization of remote sensing and GIS technology.

In the Pacific, digital cooperation can further enhance the effective utilization of digital technologies by the pooling of knowledge and expertise.

Finally, we need to strengthen regional and subregional cooperation in accelerating digital transformation, including through regional and subregional implementation plans.  

We are poised to support subregional initiatives and strategic frameworks as outlined in the 2050 Strategy.

For example, ESCAP is helping to accelerate digital connectivity through the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway initiative.

Through this initiative, Pacific governments can enhance cooperation to bridge the digital divide, ensure the provision of digital skills training, and promote inclusive digital economies.

The ESCAP platform continues to emphasize the importance of building durable and effective partnerships to improve capacity building, financing and technology transfer in the Pacific.

I urge you all to share good practices and lessons learned in a way that ensures the protection of unique cultures and values and further harnesses North-South, Triangular and South-South cooperation, including SIDS-to-SIDS.

I look forward to your insights through this side event to seize the opportunity of digital transformation and regional cooperation for sustainable development in the Pacific.

Thank you very much.

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