His Excellency Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations
His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Suriya Chindawongse, Vice President of ECOSOC
Excellencies, Distinguished participants,
Welcome to the ninth Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development.
Our Forum theme is “Building back better from COVID-19 while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Asia and the Pacific”.
As Governments scale-up policies to reverse the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of climate emergencies remains a stark reality from the islands in the Pacific to the Aral Sea basin in Central Asia.
Adding to ever changing landscape of disaster-climate-health risks, the ongoing geo-political challenges are exacerbating sufferings of the common people.
At the same time, these multiple crises offer an opportunity for us to regain our resolve in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Our Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2022 revealed some alarming trends.
Achievement of all 17 Goals is out of reach by 2030 in Asia and the Pacific.
Gaps are widening each year.
At our current pace, our region will only reach the Sustainable Development Goals in 2065 – 35 years behind the target date!
The region’s progress on the Goals that we will review during this year’s Forum -- quality education, gender equality, life below water, life on land and partnership for the Goals -- has been limited or even stagnated in some cases.
Regrettably, region has even regressed on others, including those on sustainable consumption and production and climate action.
Our estimates suggest that regional GDP growth to slow down and inflationary pressures to rise, which are primarily driven by soaring oil and commodity prices, supply-chain disruptions, and fiscal constraints.
Debt burden is poised to grow heavier for some emerging countries and countries in special situations such as least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States.
Amidst these emerging uncertainties and polarization of trusts, I am encouraged to recognize a series of transformational policy measures by many of our member States and other stakeholders, from the private sectors to young entrepreneurs, from CSOs to grassroot organizations.
During this crisis period, policy priorities of our member States have enabled to scale up e-learning opportunities and ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment through digitalization of public services and local partnerships.
Decisionmakers have also been investing strategically to pursue socio-economic policy reforms for building sustainable economy in line with a new normal situation.
In another area of priority, we have seen a growing focus on climate-smart trade, investments and sustainable connectivity policies, while mainstreaming digitalization.
Furthermore, a more integrated approach to nature and human health have been rolled out as one of the policy measures to create pathways in bolstering bio-circular-green economy model and ensuring transition to green-blue economies.
As we launch later today the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership report 2022, prepared jointly with the Asian Development Bank and UNDP, there is a need to put policies into action by:
- Raising ambition in national recovery strategies to align with the 2030 Agenda;
- Re-invigorating public and private finance for inclusive and sustainable Development; and
- Redefining regional cooperation with people and planet at the centre.
As in previous years, the Forum’s messages will be conveyed to the 2022 High-level Political Forum in July.
Finally, today marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the establishment of ESCAP.
For seven and a half decades, ESCAP has been the most inclusive platform to promote dialogue and foster joint regional action in Asia and the Pacific.
Advocating complementarity of development approaches and frameworks remain at the heart of the transformation and resurgence in the region.
Let us recommit to this mission. I count on your continued commitment, support and leadership.
I look forward to listening to your views on our future course of actions towards acceleration of the SDGs, while reinforcing Our Common Agenda.