Welcome remarks at the ESCAP-Thailand-ASEAN Side Event : Regional Dimension in Achieving SDGs: From Lessons Learned to Practical Action in the ASEAN Region and Beyond

Excellency Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the high-level side event organized jointly by Royal Thai Government, ASEAN secretariat and UN ESCAP in the margins of UNGA74 session. I am delighted to take this opportunity to share some of my perspectives for consideration.

The ASEAN region has a mixed picture of progress in implementing the SDGs or need to accelerate progress across all the SDGs according to the UN ESCAP analysis.

While ASEAN has been doing well in the areas of poverty reduction (SDG1) and quality of education (SDG4), it is not doing well and even regressing in areas such as decent work and economic growth (SDG8), climate action (SDG13) and peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG16).

In the case of modern energy access for all (SDG7), a key issue under the climate change and SDGs solutions, the ASEAN region needs more efforts and action.

To sum up, the current SDG trend needs to be reversed to achieve 2030 targets in ASEAN.

With this backdrop, there is a call for accelerating the achievement of the SDGs. But what are the critical entry points?

We have identified 5 priority areas that should be considered as our entry points: Poverty eradication, augmented connectivity, better management of natural resources, sustainable consumption and production and building resilience, which will provide a solid platform for scaling up our action.

I am very optimistic that the complementarities between ASEAN’s Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development as the guiding framework will deliver results.

At the same time, we look forward to the Complementarities Roadmap under the leadership of Thailand to guide the scaled-up implementation of the work including through the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue. You will learn more about this ASEAN Centre in the panel discussion.

Let me highlight three key lessons learned from the ASEAN experience for the region and beyond.

First, ASEAN has offered a role model for the region in energy connectivity by developing the ASEAN Power Grid. There are opportunities for ASEAN to work with other regions to demonstrate the benefits of sub-regional interconnection and encourage other subregions to replicate its success that would facilitate transfer and trade of green energy.

UN ESCAP has been playing an important role in supporting policymakers to create an enabling investment environment. By way of assisting governments to align their energy plans with their national development strategies and the Paris Agreement on climate change, including financing through modalities such as public-private partnerships.

Second, Social protection plays a vital part of leaving no one behind in ASEAN and reducing growing inequalities. It helps in addressing the needs of ageing populations and other vulnerable and marginalized groups or supporting the millions of people, especially women, and working in micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

UN ESCAP is scaling up support to ASEAN in its people-centred initiatives, especially the implementation of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Population Ageing in ASEAN, the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025 for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the implementation of the ‘Women Empowerment Principles.’

Third, ASEAN is leading the way to increase digitalisation and innovation as a cornerstone for bringing down barriers, connecting ASEAN better, and revolutionising the nature of cross-border economic cooperation. Importantly, it boosts in raising productivity growth and competitiveness, which are key driving forces for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

UN ESCAP is supporting ASEAN’s economic integration, especially in the areas of trade facilitation and connectivity in transport, energy and ICT , as well as with the promotion of technological innovation towards 4IR. I must acknowledge the leadership of Thailand.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

To conclude, let me thank the Royal Thai Government for its strong and solution-oriented leadership in 2019 to move forward the ASEAN sustainable development agenda.

Thank you.

Watch the event on UN Web TV