Excellency, Mr. Arkom Termpitaya-Paisit, Minister of Finance of Thailand,
Excellency, Dr. Tavida Kamolvej, Deputy Governor of Bangkok, Thailand
Dr. George Lam, Chair, ESCAP Sustainable Business Network
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to extend a very warm welcome to all participants in the Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF) 2022.
The theme of today’s Forum is “Towards an Asia-Pacific Green Deal for Business".
We are meeting at a time when the region is faced with multiple crises. Countries are gradually recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effect while also dealing with the effects of ongoing long-term climate change and natural disasters. Many of our societies and economies are entering a new phase of living with the pandemic and the new normal.
As countries emerge from the pandemic, inflationary pressures and a surge in prices of agricultural commodities and energy are challenging recovery efforts, particularly in developing countries, where high food and energy prices could push many into poverty.
While the region was not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) prior to the pandemic, progress made across some SDGs has stalled, and there is an urgent need to redouble our efforts to regain the momentum to achieve the SDGs.
The crisis has shown that the region needs to invest in its health infrastructure, address the digital divide and improve trade, transport and energy connectivity.
Here it is important to recognize that the private sector has an important role to play in addressing these global challenges by advancing the SDGs and taking climate action. Indeed, attaining the SDGs will require coordinated efforts by the whole society and governments.
Recognizing the role that the private sector can play in scaling up climate action, the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN) adopted the Asia Pacific Green Deal for Business declaration.
The Green Deal for Business encourages companies to go greener, to work to decarbonize both their own operations as well as those of their supply chains, mitigate other negative environmental impacts, and act responsibly towards workers and communities.
I stand with ESBN and its members in this endeavor and encourage businesses in the region to support the Asia Pacific Green Deal for Business.
Allow me to highlight three key areas which you may wish to consider during today’s discussions.
First, there is an urgent need to advance zero carbon, affordable and resilient energy systems by scaling up renewables in the energy mix and increasing energy efficiency while ensuring affordable energy access for all.
Second, we need to address the digital divide. Large sections of the region’s population do not have access to high-speed and affordable internet, and the situation may have worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is an urgent need to scale up investments in next-generation networks and technologies to address the digital divide.
Third, improving support for Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise. MSMEs account for more than 95 per cent of domestic enterprises in Asia and the Pacific.
They are the backbone of the private sector, representing a wide range of businesses that can contribute to the SDGs. However, they face several challenges, including a lack of access to finance and markets, which the pandemic has further aggravated
Later today, speakers from selected MSMEs in the region will discuss their experiences in integrating sustainability in their operations, and how improving environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance has helped unlock market opportunities.
Going forward, I am pleased to inform you that the ESBN is working on a rollout plan for the Green Deal for Business and is open to involving new members to further enrich this active and dynamic community of business leaders and participants.
In closing, I count on your commitment support to roll out the Green Deal for Business across the Asia-Pacific region as we work together to build a sustainable and resilient Asia and the Pacific.
I stand with ESBN and its members to ensure that we collectively get this done.
Thank you very much.