It is a pleasure to be with you for today’s Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives. I would like to highlight four issues: (1) Outcome of the High-level Political Forum 2019, (2) most recent visits to member States, (3) update you on some upcoming meetings and events, and (4) UNDS regional review.
1: HLPF 2019 outcomes and way forward
I participated in the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and related events from 10 to 17 July 2019 in New York. While at the HLPF, I spoke in a plenary session on the Four years of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs): what have we learned on implementing the SDGs?, I had the opportunity to deliver keynote speeches in several high level side-events organized by member States including, the Philippines on disaster resilience; Thailand on the role of regional cooperation for implementation of the 2030 Agenda; Timor-Leste on equality, inclusion and empowerment in Asia and the Pacific; and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and Government of Japan on integrated and inclusive approaches to the SDGs in Asia and globally.
I had the opportunity to participate in a jointly organized a Ministerial Lunch of the Regional Commissions and the President of ECOSOC, where our contribution focused on promoting regional cooperation on sustainable oceans.
Furthermore, I organised a Breakfast Briefing to interact with the Permanente Representatives of the UN ESCAP member States at the UN Headquarters. I outlined the value proposition, strategic initiatives, UN Development System (UNDS) reform and what would be its implications to UN ESCAP, and on our on-going work, which was very much appreciated by the Permanente Representatives and participants. The quality of our knowledge products and advisory services related to the implementation of the 2030 agenda were highly appreciated and acknowledged by member States. The participants emphasised the importance of two-way communication with the member States in New York. I have asked the Secretary of the Commission to circulate my presentation for your reference.
During my New York visit, I held several bilateral meetings with the Permanent Missions of the following member States: Bangladesh, European Union, India, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Samoa, Singapore, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. These meetings focussed on issues of common interest including (i) role of the Regional Commissions and contributions at the regional level in the context of the UN regional review and how the repositioning of the UN System is affecting programme of work of UN ESCAP; (ii) the support that the UN ESCAP can provide at country level, especially on policy issues; and (iii) opportunities for enhancing UN ESCAP visibility in New York among the Permanent Missions.
I would like to express my deep appreciation to you all for facilitating these meetings and other engagements.
Let me now highlight key outcomes of the HLPF discussions:
role of Regional Commissions, and especially the Regional Fora on Sustainable Development such as APFSD, which have been very much appreciated,
contribution of regional inputs to the HLPF, including the outcome documents from the APFSD, and
strengthen the link between the Regional Fora and the HLPF, which was reflected in our latest Resolution 75/2, “Committing to strengthening the links between national, regional and global follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific”.
I would like to commend your strong engagement in the deliberations of APFSD and CS75 in 2019.
At the same time, the Political Declaration of the HLPF 2019 which will formally be adopted by consensus at the opening of the SDGs Summit “Gearing up for a Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development” on 24 September 2019 during the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. The Political Declaration welcomes efforts at the regional level, explicitly mentioning the Regional Commissions, and approaches and the Regional Fora for Sustainable Development (para.18).
In this context, I look forward to our consultations in the preparation of the 7th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) in 2020 to identify opportunities for strengthening the link between the APFSD and the HLPF, as mandated by the UN ESCAP Resolution 75/2.
2: Member State Engagement
Since our last ACPR meeting # 382 on 27 June, I had the opportunity to engage further with member States as I visited Japan and Mongolia.
As in the previous visits, I had the honour to have a courtesy call on the Prime Minister of Mongolia, Foreign Minister of Mongolia, Vice Foreign Minister of Japan, along with several senior Ministers. I had the opportunity and fruitful exchange of views with Mr. Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary General of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan on socio-economic, global economic situation, trade and regional cooperation issues. I also met and exchanged views with Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, President of Institute for Global Environmental Strategies to further enhance our cooperation on environment and SDG issues.
Let me highlight three key issues from these missions.
As you may be aware that the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), a unique regional centre for statistical training and capacity-building for policymakers hosted by the Government of Japan. In 2020, it will celebrate its Golden Jubilee. In view of this, I plan to organise special events with the Government of Japan and other interested partners at the 76th Commission session in 2020.
Furthermore, the recently adopted G20 Osaka Blue Ocean Vision to End Ocean Plastics, under Japan’s Presidency of G20 Summit, it is in synergy with the Theme of the 76th session of the Commission on oceans for sustainable development. The Government of Japan has shown keen interest to contribute to the deliberations of the CS76, related to the topic. In my Op-ed, “A call for healthy, blue oceans in Asia and the Pacific” in the Japan Times. Mongolia also published my Op-ed in English and Mongolian.
As recognised by the UN ESCAP Resolution 75/4 on “Strengthening regional cooperation to tackle air pollution challenges in Asia and the Pacific”, I received a strong support from the leadership of Mongolia on finding sustainable solutions. I also discussed on this very relevant topic and how to promote further engagement in the North-East Asia, especially on renewables. l am very optimistic to working with member States and stakeholders in addressing air pollution issue.
I would like to express deep appreciation to your delegations and colleagues for extending generous support to facilitate my recent visits.
3: Upcoming meetings and events
Let me inform you that we are organising several intergovernmental meetings and regional events in the remaining months of 2019.
We will be organising several intergovernmental meetings.
First, Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sixth session, 28 to 30 August 2019. The main focus will be on how efforts of member States can be further supported by the Asia-Pacific Disaster Resilience Network, established by the Committee at its fifth session. Apart from that, it will cover issues such as multi-hazard early warning systems, regional space applications for disaster risk reduction and knowledge-sharing.
Second, Committee on Energy, Second session, 9 to 11 October 2019. The main theme of the session will be to develop the regional energy connectivity roadmap for submission to the Commission at its seventy-sixth session in May 2020.
Third, Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development, Second session, 6 to 8 November 2019. The session will discuss holistic and integrated approaches on mainstreaming the SDGs into policymaking and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic policies.
Fourth, the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing+25 Review, 27 to 28 November 2019. The meeting will address priority issues on advancing the agenda on gender equality and the empowerment of women in Asia and the Pacific. It will also take stock of progress made and actions required to address barriers to gender equality and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
I welcome and count on your active participation and engagement in providing guidance to the work of the secretariat.
UN ESCAP will, in collaboration with global and regional partners, co-organise several regional events as follows:
Asia-Pacific Climate Week, 2 to 6 September 2019, Bangkok. In partnership with UNFCCC, UNEP, the World bank, ADB and many other key global partners, we are hoping to address the climate emergency and discuss climate action, ahead of the Climate Action Summit, which is be held in conjunction with the General Assembly in September 2019.
9th Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum, 17 to 18 September, New Delhi. In collaboration with the Government of India, the Asian Development Bank, UNCTAD and other partners, we will be convening this meeting to highlight, especially on how digital and sustainable trade facilitation measures and practices can bring trade in the Asia-Pacific region.
10th International Forum on Energy for Sustainable Development, 7 to 8 October, Bangkok. It’s quite unique meeting as UN ESCAP in partnership with the other UN Regional Commissions and the Royal Thai Government, will demonstrate on the ways to take actions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 and meet commitments to mitigate climate change.
7th Asia-Pacific Urban Forum, 16 to 18 October, Penang. In partnership with UN-Habitat, the Government of Malaysia and some 20 partners, the Forum will focus on accelerating the implementation of sustainable urbanization in the Asia-Pacific region to achieve the SDGs.
As you can take note that I am very much encouraging my colleagues to be more active in organisng regional meetings and activities in partnerships with UN system, regional and subregional institutions and other stakeholders.
4: UNDS reform
As mentioned in my last ACPR remarks, we are constantly in tune with member States deliberations at the UN Headquarters in New York to better understand the UNDS regional review, and its implications to Regional Commissions.
During my last visit to New York, the Executive Secretaries of five Regional Commissions met to prepare a joint guiding implementation paper on the Regional Coordination Platforms. I wish to share with you updates as it unfolds.
In view of this, I am hosting a consultative UNDS Regional Coordination for Asia and the Pacific meeting tomorrow, 23 August, with all the UN agencies, funds and programmes based in Bangkok. I would like to use this meeting as an opportunity to collectively reflect on the ongoing UNDS regional review, highlight areas for enhancing coordination, and strengthen regional collaboration structures to support member States needs and priorities.
For your information, the Secretary General has appointed Mr. Neil Buhne as the Regional Director of the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO) for Asia-Pacific. On 3 August 2019, Mr. Buhne assumed his duties, and is based on the 15th floor of the Secretariat building. The DCO in Asia and the Pacific, as one of the outcomes of the UNDS regional reform process, will coordinate the work with Resident Coordinators and the United Nations country teams.
As always, I look forward to a continued dialogue with member States, on all the matters that I highlighted above, and beyond, to ensure that we can provide our products, services and expertise in line with your needs and priorities.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing your views and suggestions.