Statement at the Developing Complementarities between the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025

Delivered at the Developing Complementarities between the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, UNHQ, New York, USA.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Community Vision 2025 strategy recognizes the complementarity of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with the ASEAN community-building efforts to uplift the standards of living for the people. In moving forward, the best strategy is to examine how the two agendas can reinforce each other, respecting the objectives, value propositions, distinct niches and common elements of each. Fast tracking the alignment of these agendas is critical as we have now 9 years remaining to meet the ASEAN 2025 and 14 years to realize the 2030 Agenda goals and targets.

Thailand needs to be complimented for launching this dialogue which will help evaluate how the 2030 Agenda, if pursued comprehensively, can augment and enhance the capacity of regional organizations to address the many transnational and global challenges in this complex and intertwined world. Moves by ASEAN countries to mainstream Agenda 2030 in their vision and action plans, will help in shaping regional priorities, while delivering on their regional compact under ASEAN 2025.

Over time, the ASEAN regional architecture has recognized the central importance of integrating and enhancing the priorities for political-security, consistent with SDG 16, with the economic and socio-cultural pillars which correspond to the emphasis placed by the 2030 Agenda on exploiting the integration, interdependence and interlinkages to drive balanced economic, social and environmental development. The declaration of ASEAN Community and the blueprints for the economic and socio cultural pillars are now geared to shape a single ASEAN market, which fundamentally calls for free movement of capital and labor, free trade along with conducive investment frameworks, all of which are critical means of implementation under SDG17 of the new development agenda.
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With this preface, four elements need to be considered:

First, the SDGs with their core objectives of poverty eradication and redressal of all types of inequalities to “leave no one behind”, offer a comprehensive new economic and social multi-sectoral contract between Member States and the people of the world. Sharing these same principles, ASEAN’s socio-economic contract also offers a people-centric approach through the ASEAN Community vision.

Second, with peace, stability and justice as a centerpiece, the two agendas also prioritize inclusive approaches to reduce vulnerabilities of different segments of the population. Both agendas aspire for peaceful societies and a human-centered approach to development. In addition to the nexus of core values, the two agendas are complementary across a range of specific areas, encompassing both global and regional priorities. For the purposes of operationalizing the goals and targets, and reinforcing the value propositions of the two agendas for the member States, let me offer few concrete illustrative examples.

  • The SDGs specifically target the “development of quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and trans-border infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being.” The ASEAN 2025 Economic Blueprint calls for “improving and expanding connectivity and destination infrastructure” and on undertaking “regional and national programmes to upgrade the technical capacity and physical infrastructure for effective and efficient conformity assessment.” Hence the ASEAN 2025 Vision fosters regional connectivity and the 2030 Agenda underscores national level infrastructure development, which together will reinforce the regional connectivity both within and across the region.
  • The 2030 Agenda goal on Sustainable Consumption and Production, or SCP, ties in well with the SCP emphasis within the ASEAN Socio-cultural blueprint supplemented with specific targets. One of the strategic areas for SCP in ASEAN is to “enhance capacity of relevant stakeholders to implement sound waste management and energy efficiency”. Moreover, target 4 of the SCP goal is on “achieving environmentally sound management of chemicals and all waste.”
  • Resilience is a key cross cutting theme in both the 2030 Agenda and the ASEAN Vision 2025. Disaster resilience, urban resilience and agricultural resilience are some of the many common areas that both agendas are targeting.

I could offer further examples, however the principal message is that the complementarity can be harnessed by enhancing action and implementation.

This brings me to my third point, which is that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is contingent on priority actions which can reinforce the achievements of the 2025 regional Vision and architecture. Here again I would like to focus consideration on three major priorities:

  1. SDG17 which calls for harnessing all the means of implementation including data and statistics; trade; and finance, which is supplemented by ASEAN 2025 through striving for deepening financial and trade integration and ensuring harmonized statistical systems, where ESCAP has been proactive. At this stage the global rules and incentives governing financial and trade markets do not provide a long term, sustainable perspective. Creating the right incentives can address these systemic issues across the SDGs and the ASEAN blueprints.
  2. Promoting regional integration and connectivity will develop a cohesive regional economy and better integrate ASEAN globally to support broad based prosperity by increasing sustainable trade and investment and the creation of green jobs.
  3. Investment in environmental infrastructure and assets and transforming the pattern of resource use will serve to preserve the region’s ecosystems. This will help to decouple economic growth from resource use, and from associated waste and pollution, moving towards more sustainable consumption while helping meet the associated SDGs.

Fourth, the cross-cutting and cross-sectoral priorities identified in the 2030 Agenda and in the 2025 Vision require integrated solutions and coordinated action and implemented these together will generate economies of scale and improve the delivery of results. Valuing and quantifying the multiple benefits of action – for example concurrently addressing air pollution and climate change – will tip the balance towards long-term investments with higher environmental, social and economic returns.

To conclude, effective regional compacts and partnerships consistent with the 2030 Agenda will bridge, reconcile and strengthen the implementation of ASEAN’s Vision 2025. Regional cooperation and regional institutional support creates value in dealing with transboundary challenges such as climate change, energy security, and natural disasters. Regional cooperation can help to share diverse resources for mutual advantage, and achieve more even distribution of our rich resource base. There is good scope in ASEAN 2025 to coordinate action to optimise energy resource deployment, to connect the region’s missing links in the Asia-wide transport multi-modal corridors, and to bridge the digital divide by connecting the region with Asia and Pacific Super Information Highway.

As the sole regional multi-sectoral intergovernmental platform, ESCAP is harnessing the “universality” of the 2030 Agenda goals and targets, while promoting the regional policy consistency, coherence and coordination to reinforce the scaling and complementarity of the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda.

I thank you