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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

19 November 2021

ESCAP ES

Excellency Mr. Sardor Umurzakov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Investment and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and the current Chair of the United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA)

Ms. Olga Algayerova, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of UNECE

Excellencies, Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to extend my warm welcome to the sixteenth session of the SPECA Governing Council.

I would like to thank his excellency Mr. Umurzakov, for chairing this session and to each of you serving in this Council.

In addition to the reviews on the implementation of the current SPECA Work Programme and the new 2022-2023 SPECA Work Plan, today we will have a good opportunity to find acceptable solutions on two important issues – establishment and location of a SPECA Fund, as well as establishment and location of a SPECA secretariat.

I would like to express my gratitude to H.E. Mr. Badriddin Abidov, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade of the Republic of Uzbekistan, who organized consultations with the participation of SPECA countries, UNECE and ESCAP on these delicate issues and managed to bring it all to positive solutions during the last two months.

Before the discussion on the Agenda items, I would like to highlight a few important points.

First, initiated by ESCAP and UNECE a few years ago, the process of revitalizing SPECA coincided with the overall reform of the UN Development System.

It is symbolic because the establishment of SPECA in 1998 and UNDS Reform in 2018 were started with the active participation and involvement of the UN Secretary-General.

The process of repositioning of the UNDS and SPECA reforms could go in parallel, synergize and complement each other.

I believe that this reform process will make progress at this session and evolve into a real transformation of SPECA to benefit all the people of Central Asia.

I also hope that enhancing SPECA’s ownership by its member States, which is essential, will strengthen the work of the Programme.

Second, it is important to enhance the political support and visibility of SPECA.

More effective involvement of SPECA in strategic issues of regional cooperation and acquiring much-needed visibility for the Programme through regular political level contacts between member governments and the senior management of the UN Regional Commissions would be the key.

At the 2021 Consultative Meeting of the Heads of State of Central Asia in Turkmenistan, the Presidents instructed the foreign affairs agencies to complete work on a draft "Road Map" for the development of regional cooperation for 2022-2024.

In this regard, SPECA could also become a good instrument for the implementation of this "Road Map."

More regular participation of high-level decision-makers from member States in the sessions of the SPECA Governing Council, Economic Forums and the Working Groups would help significantly.

Third, one of the most important objectives of SPECA is to improve coordination with partner organizations and institutions within and outside of the UN family.

Cooperation between SPECA and other international and regional organizations, UN entities, including the resident coordinators offices, the United Nations Country Teams, international finance institutions and the development banks, needs to be enhanced in the form of more regular exchange of information and coordination of activities; and funding of SPECA projects by interested donors and partners.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Benefiting from your presence, we hope to share lessons learned, promote the exchange of experiences and engage in an interactive debate.

Before concluding, I would like to express our sincerest gratitude to the Government of Uzbekistan for hosting this important event.

I would like to assure you that ESCAP and UNECE stand ready to provide the necessary support to SPECA as an important instrument of cooperation and project implementation in Central Asia.

Thank you very much, and I wish you all success in your deliberations.

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