Opening Statement at the High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda

Delivered at the opening session of the High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complentarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Bangkok, Thailand.

Your Excellency Mr. Don Pramudwinai,
Your Excellency Mr. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee,
Ms. Victoria Kwakwa,
Distinguished Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

ASEAN, the largest and most vibrant belt of Asia, has benefited from peace and stability as well as from its endeavors to become an integrated economic bloc that other subregions are looking to achieve and learn from. As ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary, ESCAP will also be commemorating its 70th year of operations. The two intergovernmental agencies have developed sound partnerships over the years and together we collectively strive to consolidate the ASEAN community, deepen integration and connectivity as well as strengthen efforts to narrow development gaps in the region.

ASEAN and ESCAP have forged a strategic partnership, but the relationship with the United Nations goes beyond ESCAP. The Regional Coordination Mechanism led by ESCAP has evolved into a substantive ASEAN-UN development engagement. Under this umbrella, ESCAP has been working with member States to align the 2025 ASEAN Vision and the 2030 Agenda for the years ahead.

This opportunity is recognized by ASEAN leaders given their commitment to “underline the complementarity of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the ASEAN community building efforts to uplift the standards of living of our peoples”. Indeed both agendas have significant intersections. The alignment of planning, implementation and review of both Agendas will create win-win scenarios that will fast track the achievement of national development objectives. This will be done through the implementation of common development agendas, a strengthening of ASEAN’s integration process and a more effective fostering of transboundary alliances.

Following rounds of technical discussions, an important milestone was reached when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand organized a side event on developing complementarities between the two Agendas during the UN General Assembly High-level segment in September 2016. His Excellency the Minister led the side event and both the ASEAN Deputy SG and myself, representing ESCAP participated in the event, along with other United Nations agencies. The formal launch of this “Complementarities Initiative” today, provides the opportunity for in-depth feedback from the ASEAN member States on the substance of this initiative.

Our analysis underlines that both Agendas have significant complementarities at the level of principles and values, as well as in a number of cross-cutting areas. With regards to principles and values, a centerpiece in both Agendas is the need for peace, stability and justice. Both equally emphasize the importance of ‘people-centered development’ and of ‘leaving no one behind’. They aim to reduce inequalities by placing special emphasis on development efforts directed towards benefiting women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable or disadvantaged groups. In other words, both Agendas strongly advocate for strengthened human rights and for more inclusive economic development, which must take place within planetary boundaries.

With regards to cross-cutting areas, this initiative does not aim to tackle the entire scope of complementarities, but rather to focus on a number of priority action areas that could be used to demonstrate a practical approach of complementarities. This is the work of the joint ESCAP-ASEAN report, the outline of which will be presented later in this meeting. This analysis of the priority actions will offer an opportunity for additional initiatives to be developed and implemented by our sister UN organizations - UNDP, UN Women and the World Bank - all of which will speak later on the specifics of these.

With regards to the report, on the basis of discussions, the following five areas have been initially identified to demonstrate the complementarities:

  • First, resilience. It is a key subject in both the 2030 Agenda and the ASEAN Vision 2025. Disaster resilience, city resilience and agricultural resilience are some of the many common areas between both 2030 Agenda and ASEAN Vision 2025.
  • Second, infrastructure. Both the SDGs and the ASEAN 2025 Economic Blueprint aim to promote infrastructure to aid inclusive and sustainable development.
  • Third, Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). The 2030 Agenda includes one entire goal on SCP, which is also a component of the ASEAN Socio-cultural blueprint.
  • Fourth, poverty eradication is an integral objective of the two Agendas and of the national development plans of developing countries.
  • Finally, sustainable management of natural resources. The 2030 Agenda has a number of SDGs and targets which are consistent with each other and the 2025 Vision also emphasizes this topic.

To conclude, today’s dialogue lays the foundation for broader and concrete achievements under the Complementarities Initiative. Our thanks are due to H.E Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and other ASEAN member States, the ASEAN Secretariat, the UN system and the World Bank for attending this meeting.

I thank you.