His Excellency Mr. Hong Tianyun,
Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to start by expressing my appreciation to the Permanent Mission of China to ESCAP for organizing this side event along with the International Poverty Reduction Center of China, with the support of ESCAP’s Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization or CSAM.
Today’s event comes at a very significant time when the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted, and in some aspects indeed reversed, the region’s progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in relation to poverty reduction.
ESCAP estimates show that 89 million more people in the region have been pushed back by the pandemic into extreme income poverty.
The pandemic is also complicating the key aspects of food production and distribution, along with global and regional supply chains.
As highlighted in the United Nations Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19, small farmers, fishers, pastoralists, rural workers as well as all those working in food production and supply chains such as migrant agricultural workers, food vendors, subsistence farmers, etc. are among the population most at risk to experience socio-economic marginalization.
However, this year has also brought some good news.
For instance, two months ago China announced it had lifted out of extreme poverty nearly 100 million rural citizens in the past eight years.
We can note that altogether China lifted nearly 800 million people out of a poverty over the past four decades.
China’s experiences can provide valuable lessons to other developing countries, especially as its poverty alleviation target was achieved amid unprecedented measures in place to successfully contain the pandemic.
While congratulating China’s outstanding accomplishments in lifting people out of poverty as an important contribution to the 2030 Agenda, we can note the importance to seize the opportunities of innovation, green economy and openness to improve people's living and to continue towards more achievements to meet the pledge of "leaving no one behind."
Targeted poverty reduction strategies are indeed the way to reach those farthest behind and achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda.
Several countries in the Asia-Pacific region also developed success stories in the fight against poverty.
Notable examples are not only limited to member States’ domestic policies, but stem from the promotion of international cooperation on poverty reduction.
Today’s exchange of lessons learned and new perspectives will not only benefit countries from the region in their struggle to get rid of poverty, but can also contribute to their food security goals and help determine a pathway towards more sustainable and resilient food systems at the global level.
In fact, we need to promote regional cooperation for sustainable agricultural development and rural revitalization as a means to alleviate poverty, considering that people suffering from extreme poverty in Asia and the Pacific predominantly live in rural areas and are engaged in agricultural activities.
The modernization and improvement of the agricultural sector and of food systems at large are fundamental for ‘building back better’ and maintaining poverty eradication gains.
Consolidating poverty alleviation achievements and rural revitalization presents to us the way to prevent any scenarios where people slip back into poverty when facing shocks or crises.
Dear Colleagues and Distinguished Excellencies,
ESCAP is engaged in supporting poverty reduction measures through the modernization of the agricultural sector with the work of its Regional Institution, the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization or CSAM.
I wish to thank the Government of China for hosting the CSAM and for renewing their commitment to generously fund its programmes and operations for the next five years.
I am grateful to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China for the strong support it has extended throughout the years to CSAM as its window Ministry.
I am sure it will continue to engage in valuable regional cooperation and knowledge sharing activities through the CSAM.
We look forward to the involvement and contribution of all member States in the work of CSAM, so that the pool of knowledge in the region can have a wider impact in our path towards achieving SDG1 and SDG2.
This year the Secretary-General has convened a Food Systems Summit to discuss new pathways to secure the improvement of food systems worldwide.
I am confident that the discussions at this event will be of great significance for the global debate that will take place at the Summit later this year, and ESCAP will support conveying your recommendations to the Summit secretariat.
ESCAP stands ready to provide assistance to countries that seek to achieve their poverty reduction goals and improve their food systems through agricultural modernization.
I wish you a very fruitful deliberation.