Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to extend my congratulations to the Nation-Building Institute International (NBII) and other hosts for organising this International Conference on Nation-Building 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic is posing significant development challenges in Asia and the Pacific. Our region has now been exposed to crisis in multiple fronts. This unfolding crisis is clearly slowing down the progress we have made in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
With this ever-evolving nature and depth of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, member States have been at the fore front in formulating and implementing recovery plans that is saving people’s lives and livelihoods.
Allow me to highlight four development strategies for ensuing nation-building in the context of COVID-19 pandemic for your deliberations and further reflections.
First, strengthening the social protection system. There is a need to work on the Action Plan to Strengthen Regional Cooperation on Social Protection in Asia and the Pacific. Governments must undertake concrete policy actions, in close coordination with development partners, in scaling up technical advice and capacity-building support at various levels of the administration.
ESCAP, along with the UN system, is working with policymakers and related stakeholders on innovative financing strategies to support the micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) and to promote women entrepreneurs’ access to finance. These development strategies are critical to tackle widening socio-economic inequality and reduce growing vulnerabilities in our societies.
Second, enhancing sustainable regional connectivity in trade, transport, and energy. With the active engagement and participation of member States since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, regional trade and investment flows have been stable, and remained resilient.
ESCAP’s intergovernmental agreements and frameworks such as the Asian Highway Network and the Trans-Asian Railway Network have supported the governments in facilitating the cross-border connectivity in our region.
Third, bridging the digital divide. Governments need to work with the private sector in scaling up broadband Internet capacities for the effective use of technological innovation, and to expand their coverage.
ESCAP is working with governments and other stakeholders to promote digital technology, and to encourage investment in ICT infrastructure. By focusing on e-commerce and digital finance, governments are now in position to considerably improve public services to citizens and businesses.
Fourth, greening the recovery. Over the past three quarters, the governments are expanding policy advisory services so that industries follow low-carbon development path and ensure efficient usage of resources within the broader framework of the Paris Agreement.
ESCAP is also very much involved with member States to take forward this agenda. For example, the establishment of an ASEAN Resources Panel is an important tool to take forward the ASEAN Roadmap on Sustainable Resources Management. The development strategies must now focus on accelerating the national energy access in line with the decarbonisation efforts and SDG7 targets.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As the government’s move forward with “the Pandemic New Normal”, we must underscore the significance of the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to recover better. Development strategies must focus on a robust crisis response system to encourage solutions-oriented policies for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
ESCAP, along with the UN system, stands ready to work with governments, the private sector, think tanks and all stakeholders in building back better in the post-COVID-19 era.
I count on your commitment and leadership in advancing the Asia-Pacific region, that is more open, inclusive, sustainable and resilient.