Excellency Huang Kunming, Head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee,
Excellency Lu Hao, Minister of the Development Research Center of the State Council,
Excellency Zhao Changwen, President of the Centre for International Knowledge and Development,
Excellencies, distinguished participants,
It is my pleasure to take part in the opening ceremony of the High-Level International Think Tank and Media Forum.
I appreciate the great efforts of our partners from the Development Research Center of the State Council, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the China Media Group for organizing this Forum.
We are two years into this Decade of Action on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
However, ESCAP’s latest findings from the Asia-Pacific SDG Progress Report has, once again, raised the alarm that the region in not on track to achieve the 2030 targets of the Goals. In fact, progress has slowed down, and the 2030 targets are further out of reach.
Such an alarming scenario proves that a business-as-usual approach is inadequate and calls for accelerated collective efforts if we are to achieve the Goals.
At the 78th session of ESCAP concluded a month ago, member States adopted the Bangkok Declaration, which demonstrated an unprecedented commitment of countries to join forces to overcome current complexities and further advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.
Let me highlight a few key priorities from the Declaration as follows:
First, countries pledged to leave no one behind. It is more urgent to strengthen social protection system to address the needs of millions of people who have been left unprotected throughout their lives.
We need to empower women in all aspects of their economic, social and cultural participation; place youth at the centre of development; and extend support to older persons, persons with disabilities, and migrants to the best possible.
Second, we commit to protect our planet with more determined actions. Our current actions remain far behind what are required to restore environmental sustainability and fight against the climate change.
We need to immediately curb greenhouse gas emission, reduce pollution, restore biodiversity, protect environment, and respond progressively to the threat of climate change and disasters.
Third, we are determined to work together to enhance regional connectivity, understanding that the investment in transport, energy, and ICT and facilitation of international trade and human mobility are critical driving forces for inclusive, sustainable development in the region.
Digital technologies have opened up transformative opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, only through digital cooperation can we ensure such opportunities are realized inclusively and equitably by all.
Last but not least, countries underscore the importance of scaling up sustainable financing for development. Thus, we need to efficiently mobilize and align public, private and international financial resources to advance full implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The renewed commitments that countries in Asia and the Pacific have made through the Declaration are clearly the path we must pursue towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. And, these priorities, I believe, are in full synergy and alignment with the Global Development Initiatives set out by China and other initiatives.
In this regard, I appreciate the additional momentum generated by the Initiatives to accelerate multilateralism and regional cooperation for sustainable development in the region.
I wish the Forum a successful and fruitful discussion.