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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

01 February 2024

ES ESCAP

Excellencies, distinguished guests, delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Accelerating progress towards the SDGs is a priority in Asia and the Pacific. For many of the 17 Goals, progress is slow. On its current trajectory, the region will achieve less than half of the necessary progress by 2030.

In 2022, the Asia-Pacific region recorded its strongest progress in affordable and clean energy (Goal 7) as well as industry, innovation, and infrastructure (Goal 9) but regressed for climate action (Goal 13). 

Supported by enabling policy and regulatory regimes, digital innovation could leverage the extraordinary collective effort needed for meaningful course correction.

As a testament to this potential, our members and associate members selected “Leveraging digital innovation for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, as the theme topic for the 80th session of the Commission in April.

In this forthcoming study, our findings show that the region is a hub for digitally driven innovations which have the potential to turbocharge sustainable development.

The region’s socio-demographic profile, its digitally literate youth, economies of scale and rapidly expanding access to digital infrastructure, provide fertile ground for their further development.

To fully harness this potential, there is a need to strengthen regional digital cooperation through the full use of platforms such as the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.

Achieving universal access to digital infrastructure is the essential foundation. Complementary enabling policy environments that promote digital inclusion are equally important.

There is a need to build diversified digital skills that range from lifelong learning that upholds the rights of people in vulnerable situations, including the elderly, to in-demand marketable advanced skills.

The region’s experience emerging from the implementation of regulatory sandboxes that promote experimentation and tolerate failures without creating systemic instabilities is also noteworthy. 

In all these aspects, the engagement of multiple stakeholders in the design and implementation of government policies is key.

To tap this potential, the United Nations can provide an important opportunity to share good practices on policy convergence and the financing of digital innovations to incentivize the development, replication and scale-up of digital innovation in a way that is inclusive both within and between countries.

We would be pleased to further share the region’s experiences and policy practices with other regions. 

Leveraging cutting-edge technologies comes with multiple challenges, but it also offers an unparalleled opportunity for progress.

To achieve the 2030 Agenda, it is an opportunity that we must seize.

Thank you very much.

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