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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

04 June 2020

Your Excellency Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand

Your Excellency Dato’ Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the Fourth High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

We are in an unprecedented time in our lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely undermined the hard-won achievements in the SDGs in the ASEAN region.  But it does not mean in any way pause in the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda.

The response to the pandemic cannot be de-linked from actions on the SDGs. Instead this calls for renewed acceleration of progress in the five Priority Areas of the Complementarities Initiatives which are as follows:  

  1. Poverty Eradication.
  2. Infrastructure and Connectivity.
  3. Sustainable management of natural resources.
  4. Sustainable Consumption and production.
  5. Resilience.

The path to recovery in a new normal situation will have to be equitable, sustainable and resilient.  The long-term task of rebuilding social and economic systems should align with the SDGs and commitment to the Paris Agreement. The new normal will be a development path that is sustainable in all three of the ASEAN Community pillars of Economic, Socio-Cultural, and Political-Security.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

Recognizing the uniqueness and vastness of the Asia-Pacific region, ESCAP has developed a more tailored approach of the UN Framework on the Socio-economic response to COVID-19 to support member States in the region.

ESCAP’s Framework consists of three main streams of work. 

First is protecting people and enhancing resilience of societies and communities, especially women and vulnerable groups of population, through improving access to critical infrastructure and basic services, enhancing emergency preparedness and strengthening social protection.

Second is supporting economic recovery through fiscal and monetary stimuli, while remaining committed to the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.

Third is restoring supply chains and supporting SMEs, through regional and sub-regional coordination on trade and transport, energy and ICT connectivity
and mitigating the impact on SMEs including those owned by women.

Finally, building back better is the overarching principle of the framework and an integral part of any policy response. This principle underscores the socio-economic response to COVID-19 which must accelerate rather than undermine decarbonization, mitigate inequalities, promote inclusion; and incorporating resilience into communities.

There is also the vital role of regional cooperation in dealing with cross-border issues to reconnect economies and re-open trade and transport related connectivity links.  The potential of expanding and scaling up regional collaboration should be fully leveraged to build back better and meet the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

With the Complementarities Initiative, ASEAN and UN have clearly identified the complementarities between ASEAN’s Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda.  Poverty eradication, augmented connectivity, better management of natural resources, sustainable consumption and production and building resilience provide a solid platform for scaling-up our collaboration.

In this context, the development of the new ASEAN-UN Plan of Action for the period 2021-2025 during the COVID-19 pandemic will have significant and cross-cutting global, regional, subregional and national impacts on our advisory services and capacity building work.

The new ASEAN-UN Plan of Action is an important opportunity to update areas of cooperation as well as to strengthen the comprehensive partnership of the UN and ASEAN. In particular, the “Cross-Sectoral Cooperation” reflects the increasingly cross-cutting nature of emerging areas of cooperation, such as ‘gender mainstreaming’ ‘cyber-security and safe online environments’ and ‘climate action’. All these areas are of high importance and timely in response to the pandemic crisis and in achieving the SDGs.

To support ASEAN in the process of identifying new areas of cooperation, I am pleased to inform you all at this dialogue that the ASEAN Secretariat and ESCAP recently organised a High-Level Policy Dialogue: “Building a Resilient ASEAN Economic Community in the Aftermath of COVID-19”, among the Senior Economic Officials.

From the deliberation, it became clear of the role of Governments in creating enabling policy and regulatory environments for increasing resilience of the ASEAN Economic Community through:

  1. Utilizing advances in technology & innovation to foster digital transformation in support of building a regionally integrated digital economy to accelerate intra-regional trade and growth and enable local businesses.
  2. Cross-border transport of international movements of people and cargo to ensure the robustness of facilitation measures.
  3. Regional cooperation and initiatives to put in place workable frameworks which would allow for a continued regional approach to crises.

Going forward, ESCAP is ready to support ASEAN and its member States to deal with the medium to long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic through the ASEAN-UN Plan of Action which serves as the common framework of cooperation between our two organizations.

Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue is timely at this juncture for ASEAN and its partners to deliberate the best way to leap forward the Complementarities Initiatives.  We will listen in the upcoming sessions of what countries and organizations are doing to implement the priority areas and the flagship initiatives of the Complementarities.  I fully commend all partners for their commitment and effort to ensure that “building back better” is on track.

I wish you a successful dialogue.

Thank you.

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