Excellencies, distinguished participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the Fourth North-East Asia Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The North-East Asia subregion was the first hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past three quarters, the health emergency has evolved into a socio-economic crisis throughout the world, affecting everyone, everywhere equally.
Today, the North-East Asia faces common challenges in all dimensions of sustainable development. Inequalities, population ageing, resources use in economic activities, and climate change are key areas of concern.
This unprecedented crisis has wiped out many of the hard-won development gains and the achievements of the SDGs in North-East Asia. A recent ESCAP report, “Turning the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis into Collective SDG Actions in North-East Asia”, has highlighted the nature and extent of these existing and emerging development challenges in the subregion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I welcome the concerted whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches by member States to contain the severity of the COVID-19 crisis in this subregion.
The signs of gradual socio-economic recovery are certainly a result of their solutions-driven policy approach.
As one of the key hubs of innovation, technology, trade and finance, I recognise the important contributions of North-East Asia in their continued efforts to advance SDGs and to promote development cooperation.
Allow me to highlight several focus areas for your further reflections and policy priorities.
- Strengthen social protection and widen safety nets, especially for existing and newly emerging vulnerable groups.
- Embrace the accelerating digitization – maximizing its benefits of creating new opportunities in education, healthcare, and jobs.
- Ensure environmental sustainability in the recovery strategies.
- Harness regional cooperation, through enhanced partnership across sustainable connectivity and climate change, within and across the subregions in Asia and the Pacific.
ESCAP stands ready to work with governments and all stakeholders in advancing SDGs implementation plans in the post-COVID-19 era.
I look forward to listening to your experiences and recommendations on the future course of action towards attainment of the SDGs.
I count on your commitment to build back better in North-East Asia.