Skip to main content
Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

22 October 2020


Ladies and gentlemen,


Welcome to the Policy Dialogue on “Inclusive Subregional Cooperation in East and North-East Asia for Sustainable Development” organized in celebration of UN75 and the 10th anniversary of ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office.


It gives me a great pleasure to express my heartfelt gratitude to both the Government of the Republic of Korea and Incheon Metropolitan City for their unwavering support to ESCAP, especially to the East and North-East Asia Office.  It has significantly advanced inclusive multilateralism in the subregion, while connecting member States to promote regional and global sustainable development agendas.


The celebration of the UN 75th anniversary is taking place at a time of an unprecedented socio-economic crisis due to COVID-19 pandemic, which is also stalling the progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


In 1945, the United Nations was created to prevent the immense suffering caused by the Second World War. The COVID-19 pandemic has provided another opportunity for us to build back better in this sustainable recovery that can help us work together to overcome this unfolding global challenge.


Inclusive multilateralism, based on mutual trust, cooperation, and inclusivity, are as relevant today as they were 75 years ago.


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


The UN Secretary-General at the General Assembly ceremony for the 75th anniversary pointed out that “we have a surplus of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions.” The Secretary-General called on networked multilateralism and inclusive multilateralism that bring together all stakeholders, not limited to government. 


This message has a clear resonance to the North-East Asia subregion. There are several common development challenges in this subregion in areas such as socio-economic disparities, ageing population, connectivity and climate change including air and marine pollution, among others.  


Time to act is now. Member States must put together their collective might to overcome these new and emerging challenges. Inclusive multilateralism is the key driver to harness the spirit of solidarity.


Governments should work with stakeholders to promote innovation, support technical expertise, and raise financial contribution for advancing the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.



I am very pleased to recognise important steps in advancing multilateralism in North-East Asia. Governments are already proposing solution-oriented policies through practical programmes and seek synergies, which is possible only through extensive dialogue, exchanges and above all, on steering multilateral cooperation.


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


At the regional level, ESCAP is uniquely positioned to play a much-needed role as a neutral facilitator, or broker,  while remain engaged in offering solutions to deliver on the SDGs.


Over the past seven decades, ESCAP has been directly contributing to enhancing multilateral cooperation among member States through regional, and subregional platforms.  For example, with the Government of the Republic of Korea and Incheon Metropolitan City’s generous contributions, ESCAP has been able to provide a unique subregional platform to foster multilateral cooperation among all subregional members - China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation, and associate members Hong Kong, China and Macao, China.


In another landmark initiative in 1993, member States established the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC) to tackle cross-boundary environmental challenges. Serving as its Secretariat, the East and North-East Asia Office has been actively engaged with member States in building new platforms on air pollution, marine environment, climate change, just to name few.


Furthermore, the Office has also been instrumental in launching and supporting result-based partnerships, networks, and agreements aimed at developing collective actions in areas of trade, transport, energy and innovation. The North-East Asia Power Interconnection and Cooperation Forum (NEARPIC), North-East Asia Development Cooperation Forum, and the Intergovernmental Agreement on International Road Transport along the Asian Highway Network are some of the key initiatives.


Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,


As we celebrate 10th anniversary of the East and North-East Asia Office, it is timely to reflect and look ahead on the ways to serve member States in their efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


Together, we must ensure build back better in the face of the great uncertainties of COVID-19 pandemic. There is enormous potential to bolster regional cooperation for the implementation of the SDGs.


We are organizing this Policy Dialogue to explore opportunities for harnessing subregional cooperation which is founded upon the principles of the UN values and norms. We need a greater, deeper, stronger and comprehensive regional and subregional cooperation.


Today, I very much look forward to seeking the views and policy guidance of the eminent speakers so that we remain committed to accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the subregion and beyond.


Thank you very much for your attention.

Print this article


Subregional Office for East and North-East Asia +82-32-458-6600 [email protected]