Ms. Sanda Ojiambo, Assistant Secretary-General and CEO of UN Global Compact,
Ms. Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, Secretary-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand,
Mr. Lee George Lam, Chair of the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN),
Mr. Noppadol Dej-Udom, Chief Sustainability Officer of Charoen Pokphand Group and Secretary General of the Global Compact Network Thailand,
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of ESCAP, it is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to the “Uniting Business: Sustainability in ASEAN” that ESCAP has organized together with the UN Global Compact.
We are meeting at a critical juncture as countries gradually open their borders and lift restrictions that were put in place due to the pandemic.
Over the last two years, countries in the Asia and the Pacific region have been adversely affected by the pandemic and the ensuing socio-economic downturns it caused.
In South-East Asia, the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequalities, and severely impacted the most vulnerable sections of the population. The crisis has shown that the region needs to invest in its health infrastructure, address the digital divide across the region and improve trade and transport connectivity.
While climate change may have fallen out of the public eye during the most challenging parts of the pandemic, it did not disappear.
Natural disasters affecting the region are a reminder that much work needs to be done in building disaster resilience in each country.
The immediate challenge facing countries in the region is to regain the momentum on sustainable development.
Tackling these challenges will require public-private partnerships and cooperation.
We need coordinated action by governments, businesses and civil society to build back better and greener for achieving the Sustainable Development Goal and tackling climate change.
Here I would like to highlight key areas relevant to our discussions today.
First, the Private sector has a vital role to play. Businesses across sectors need to embrace a transformational change to decarbonize their operations and supply chains and be fully aligned with the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Second, Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), which are the backbone of the private sector, represent a wide range of businesses that can contribute to sustainable development. This is also true for the ASEAN region, where MSMEs are integral to economic growth and are significant generators of employment.
Lastly, the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN), consisting of representatives of the private sector from the Asia-Pacific region, has adopted the Asia Pacific Green Deal for Business Declaration as a roadmap for companies to take the lead on climate action.
ESBN, through the Green Deal, will lead private sector sustainability efforts to accelerate a green transformation in the region.
We stand ready to support the Asia Pacific Green Deal for Business.
I wish you a successful, lively and fruitful discussions.
Thank you very much.