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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

17 March 2021


Opening Remarks


Wardarina, Co-chair of the Asia-Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM),

Colleagues and friends, 

It is indeed my pleasure to get the opportunity to speak at the opening of the People’s forum for the Eighth Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development.

The people of our region has enjoyed development dividends over the past decades.

The progress in poverty reduction, zero hunger, health and well-being, and access to education and energy are noticeable.    

Yet, the people are witnessing impacts of growing socio-economic inequality- -or divide - and unemployment including youth unemployment which has been increasing across the region.

Climate change impacts are clear in all corners of our communities.

And then, since last year, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has further affected us all, the people, which has significantly reversing the hard-won socio-economic gains.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also offering new opportunities to policymakers and to all of us to rethink their way of life and interaction with nature. We need to work together to overcome this unprecedented crisis.

The pandemic underscores the renewal of our efforts for inclusion, resilience, and sustainability.

May I share three key messages for your further deliberations and reflections during the Forum.

First, let us focus on inclusion.

There is a clear need to broaden the scope and scale, for example, of health-care provisions to safeguard lives and livelihoods of people in the region.

With a large number of the informal sector workers, Governments must work towards providing adequate social protection for all.

Second, let us all build resilience.

To overcome systemic weaknesses across the institutional architecture at all levels of government and hence the governance aspect, multi-stakeholders’ approach is needed to enhance resilience against future pandemic shock and crises.

Resilience needs to be part of any recovery plans through better management of not only economic recovery, trade, supply chains and connectivity but to also include digital technology as well as the social welfare dimensions.

Third, let us ensure sustainability in all aspects of the policymaking.

Governments need to go beyond “business as usual” scenario in the recovery plan. A concerted effort by all stakeholders should incorporate all these challenges such as climate action, energy transition, the socio-economic divide in all walks of the recovery process and plan.

I am confident that well-coordinated national plans will provide opportunities to contribute to safeguarding the SDGs in our region, and your voice really matters.

In view of this, the 2030 Agenda is our compass that will lead us through the recovery period and beyond

I recognise that inclusive and networked multilateralism should continue to play a pivotal role in strengthening ties not only between countries, but also communities, and the people. 

Furthermore, I would like to reiterate that Goal 16 that aims to promote strong, transparent, accountable institutions is key in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Let us further emphasize solidarity between peoples that is based on compassion, goodwill, and mutual trust.

In closing, may I take this good opportunity to congratulate APRCEM for continuing to push the boundaries of engagement in all dimensions of the SDGs.

At ESCAP, you can count on our support and commitment.

Our appreciation goes to the Co-Chair, members of the Regional Constituency Coordinators and the associated networks for your steadfast role in promoting the ethos of inclusive multilateralism.

The APFSD would not be vibrant and the multi-stakeholder intergovernmental forum also would not be successful without your strong engagement and contribution.

I wish you all an excellent meeting and look forward to its outcomes.

Thank you very much.

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