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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

31 August 2020

Excellencies, Distinguished participants, 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to speak at the closing plenary of the Thailand Business Leadership for the SDGs 2020. 

At the outset, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Global Compact Network Thailand in Partnership with the United Nations in Thailand for organising this important event on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Global Compact. 

This morning, it was a great privilege to welcome His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand at the UN Conference Centre and very heartening to listen to the Prime Minister’s keynote address on the “Leadership in Crisis Management: Experiences from COVID-19”. The Prime Minister unequivocally underscored the criticality of the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach and collaboration in times of national crisis. 

It was also encouraging to see the presence of Mr. Suphachai Chearavanont, President of the Global Compact Network Thailand (GCNT) and other senior 

representatives from the private sectors, and their collective efforts and commitment to supporting the socio-economic policy of COVID-19 recovery plans in Thailand. 

In promoting harmony between economy and environment to overcome challenges of pandemic, the Thailand’s experiences in the application of Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) for sustainable development is inspirational. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

During this meeting, speakers highlighted the importance of the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact that focusses on the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, as a way to guide business sectors to take concrete actions to advance the SDGs. 

The practical options, strategies and experiences based on the Ten Principles discussed today can further encourage the private sectors when scaling-up their engagement with governments and stakeholders. 

Allow me now to share two reflections for your attention. 

First, I would like to highlight key policy recommendations from the recently launched UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief: Impact of COVID-19 on South-East Asia. 

Second, let us align policy recommendations of the SG’s Brief to private sectors contribution to the post-COVID-19 recovery plans and its impacts on SDGs implementation in Asia and the Pacific. 

According to the SG’s Brief, the governments in South-East Asia can drive an effective socio-economic recovery strategy through focusing on four thematic areas – tackling inequality, bridging the digital divide, ensuring a green recovery and upholding human rights and good governance practices. 

Let me reiterate the four recommendations that can lead to building back better. 

On tackling inequality. Achieving a successful recovery from COVID-19 must address systemic issues, including extreme poverty, socio-economic inequalities and gaps in social protection, health care coverage and health care system. Due attention must be given to the vulnerable segment of the societies including women and children from poor and marginal households. 

On bridging the digital divide. COVID-19 has highlighted both the role of digital technologies in pandemic response and the vulnerabilities posed by lack of digital access. We are advocating for accelerated investments, both hard and soft infrastructure, in ICT and digital economy. 

On greening the recovery. The government policies should be directed to industries that are low-carbon, resource efficient and aligned with environmental and climate objectives as in the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda. It is essential that all steps taken in the recovery must accelerate towards a sustainable, resilient and low-carbon future. 

Finally, countries can play an important role in upholding human rights and good governance and strong institutions in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Recovering better, charting a pathway to a new normal is closely aligned to private sectors contributions in reviving economies and societies in Thailand and beyond. 

Allow me to share three focus areas for your further reflections and policy priorities. 

First, forging strong partnerships with the private sector to bolster the delivery of services such as health care programmes and facilitate participation of women in economic activities, especially in micro- small and medium-sized enterprises. 

Second, investing in ICT infrastructure, in close collaboration with private sectors, can facilitate availability of digital technology to improve public services to citizens and business continuity in areas such as e-commerce, digital finance and back office functions. 

Third, scaling-up private sector investment in areas such as agribusiness products, bioindustries, service sectors including green tourism where Thailand has competitive and comparative advantage, can create high quality green jobs. 

On the 20th Anniversary of the United Nations Global Compact, let us mobilize the private sectors and other stakeholders including women and youth—our future generations—along with the United Nations Development System to promote economic recovery in a sustainable manner. 

To build back better and protect hard-won gains in SDGs, the participation of the private sector is strategic and essential. 

I take this opportunity to reiterate that UN Country Team in Thailand, under the able leadership of my colleague, Ms. Gita Sabharwal, together with the whole UN system, is fully committed to encourage solutions-driven partnerships. 

Thank you for your attention.

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