Excellencies, distinguished Delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to address you today at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
The half-century mark since the foundation of the UN Environment Programme provides an opportunity to reflect, not only on past achievements, but also the many transformations still needed to properly care for people and the planet.
While the Asia-Pacific region is off track on many of the Sustainable Development Goals, this is particularly true for the ones most closely associated with the environment. Yet, investing, protecting, restoring and sustainably managing nature is a foundation for sustainable development.
We need to change gears with urgency, solidarity and ambition.
And there is reason to be hopeful. A focus on a green, resilient and more equal Asia and the Pacific, holds the potential to avert the worst aspects of an environmental crisis and create economic opportunities.
Transitioning to low-carbon cities ensures that urban growth does not result in adverse environmental impacts. Conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems offer an efficient pathway to reduce green house gas emissions.
Moving to electric mode of transportation and combatting air pollution will save millions of lives a year while at the same time helping reduce emissions, including short-lived climate pollutants, and making our cities more livable.
Investing in sustainable agricultural practices can improve climate resilience, agrobiodiversity and food safety. In short, investing in our environment is a prerequisite for achieving the SDGs and building economies that will be competitive and resilient in the future.
However, we need to come together to take advantage of these opportunities and leverage multilateralism to protect our environmental commons.
To this end, ESCAP will convene later this year the 7th Committee on Environment and Development at the Ministerial Level.
This provides an opportunity to build on UNEA and for member states in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss solutions for protecting nature and the environment.
We are already seeing momentum among member States for greater regional collaboration on air pollution, an issue where ESCAP and UNEP are working hand in hand.
I wish you a productive fifth session of UNEA and take this opportunity also to congratulate UNEP on its 50th anniversary.
Thank you very much.