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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

03 November 2021


Excellencies, Distinguished participants, 

The Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads in its development pathway.  The severe and increasing frequency of climate change-induced natural disasters affects development gains in Asian and Pacific countries.  

The region is also a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions: seven of the G20 members from Asia are responsible for over half of global Green House Gas emissions.  

Additionally, five of the top-10 countries with the greatest historical responsibility for emissions since the beginning of the twentieth century are from the Asia-Pacific region. 

The region is already economically challenged in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 89 million people estimated to have been pushed back into extreme poverty. The disproportionate impact on the poor and vulnerable groups has exacerbated rising economic inequalities, both within and across countries. These disparities will be further compounded by the effects of climate change.  

We need to urgently increase the ambition of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to effectively contribute to the 45 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from the levels of 2010.   

We also need to align the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic with NDC targets and commitments, supported by Long-Term Low-Emission Development (LT-LED) strategies. 

In this context, ESCAP has partnered with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to define the green and climate finance options to support post-COVID-19 pandemic recovery aligned with more ambitious NDCs.  

In order to support a deep transformation of the financing and investment systems, the Asia-Pacific region needs to develop and apply more innovative financial mechanisms, including thematic bonds, debt-for-climate swaps and blended finance.  

That will support a greening of the economy and decarbonization of production and consumption, as well as more inclusive, resilient and sustainable development. 

These mechanisms can be supported by a recently established Consultative Group on financing strategies for the SDGs, which aims to facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing between the ESCAP secretariat and its member States. 

Additionally, alternative innovative financing instruments such as debt-for-climate swaps have the potential to help simultaneously tackle challenges related to insufficient financial flows for climate action and debt sustainability, while increasing investments in nature-based solutions, with enormous mitigation and adaptation potentials.  

However, facilitating such a swap is complex. ESCAP is currently working with the Pacific Island Forum Secretariat to analyze and identify the fundamental characteristics of a successfully negotiated debt swap. 

Governments cannot achieve their climate goals alone without engaging the private sector. ESCAP has a long-standing partnership with the private sector. The ESCAP Sustainable Business Network is crafting an Asia-Pacific Green Business Deal as they pursue a “green” competitive advantage and respond to increasing shareholder and consumer pressure for science-based targets that align businesses with climate aspirations.  

Distinguished participants, 

Putting a price on carbon and applying carbon pricing instruments to generate revenues, combined with fossil fuel subsidy reform, will create the fiscal space that can support a shift towards low-carbon and no-carbon energy sources.  

Allow me to share a few of ESCAP’s initiatives in this regard.   

ESCAP is partnering with UNFCCC and other development partners, including ADB and the Green Fiscal Policy Network, to promote the application of carbon pricing instruments in the Asia-Pacific region.  

Additionally, ESCAP has also developed a carbon pricing simulation tool to support policymakers in designing the optimal carbon pricing-greenhouse gas emissions reductions scenarios according to national circumstances.  

ESCAP will continue working together with UN organizations and regional development partners to support the achievement of low-carbon development strategies, backed by more ambitious NDC commitments and increased investments in a greener future. 

Thank you very much. 

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