Plenary Statement by Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations & Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific at the Second UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries in Vienna, Austria.
Today we celebrate young people and their capacity to embody the values of volunteerism, while reaffirming our commitment to a better future for them and our future generations. A dynamic youth agenda is vital to ensure the success of post-2015 sustainable development. Volunteerism can lead the way; it can build capacity and enhance understanding of how all people matter.
It is an honor and a pleasure to join you today to celebrate the 69th United Nations Day in Seoul. I also want to use this opportunity to offer our warm congratulations to the Republic of Korea on the 60th anniversary of its membership of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). The Republic of Korea’s development history during its 60 years with ESCAP has been an incredible journey, which deserves special recognition and celebration.
To achieve sustainable development, regional economic cooperation and integration, as well as regional connectivity and the key development other priorities of Asia and the Pacific, we must transform the Commission and the secretariat so they are both “fit for purpose.”
There was a noticeable shift in focus from the time of the Barbados Programme of Action to the Mauritius Strategy, which moved the SIDS development dialogue towards implementation. With the outcome of Rio+20, and now the SAMOA Pathway, there is another shift taking place – towards real action. The SAMOA Pathway spells out some key roles for the regional commissions in support of sustainable development in the Pacific, and we will respond with vigor and concrete actions.
Gender inequality is a distinct, pervasive and cross-cutting barrier to equitable, inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. Gender-specific obstacles disproportionately limit access to education, healthcare, financial markets, and productive employment opportunities for women and girls.
The 70th session of the Commission has been a great success. In spite of challenging circumstances, which required us to conduct the session in two phases, we have seen wide-ranging deliberations and real progress made on understandings about critical development priorities.
Women, men and children in every corner of our region look to their leaders for a better future. No country can meet those needs alone. The foundation of the United Nations success is that we do better together. This is why I will use my first Policy Statement today to make the case for your support for an even stronger ESCAP. I will start by outlining the scope of our regional challenges and opportunities, and then talk about the changes we are making to the Commission to better support your development priorities.