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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

12 November 2020

Excellency Mr. Saksayam Chidchob, Minister of Transport of the Kingdom of Thailand,  

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), and to the Sixth Session of the Committee on Transport.

Sustainable regional connectivity lies at the heart of advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—a key driver of enhancing economic growth, jobs creation and cooperation across all levels in Asia and the Pacific.

Yet, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is changing the mode and nature of regional connectivity. Notably, regional connectivity agreements such as the Asian Highway Network (2004), Trans-Asian Railway Network (2006) and Dry Ports (2013) have been instrumental to facilitate cross-border connectivity during these unprecedented times of COVID-19.

I acknowledge the commitment of member States in scaling-up digitalization and undertaking concrete efforts along the Asian Highway Network to ensure uninterrupted cross-border freight transport since early 2020.

Interruptions of freight movement along the Trans-Asian Railway network have also been limited. The operations of maritime ports have continued during the pandemic.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During this ongoing socio-economic crisis, several member States became Parties to the Trans-Asian Railway Network and Dry Port agreement.

Since outbreak of this pandemic, member States have been actively sharing their best practices and lessons learned in preserving transport connectivity and putting forward concrete ideas and proposals on promoting contactless and seamless connectivity.

This solidarity remains our greatest strength and pays rich dividends in overcoming the economic and supply chain shock of this crisis.

As per the call of the Commission resolution on “Strengthening cooperation to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP/RES/76/1), we have scaled-up maritime connectivity work to compliment land transport connectivity. We are giving special attention to the vulnerabilities of the small island developing States (SIDS).

By anchoring regional connectivity, there is a real opportunity to transform transport systems and services to follow a low-carbon development path, increase the share of clean energy and adopt innovations and emerging smart transport technologies to improve environmental sustainability in Asia and the Pacific.

I hope that these partnerships and proposals would foster long-term recovery from the COVID-19-induced crisis.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of mainstreaming social, economic and environmental considerations into sustainable transport systems in the Asia-Pacific region.

Today, member States clearly recognise the significance of emphasising innovative policy priorities in transport sector, including:

  • shift freight transport to more sustainable modes,
  • improve overall sustainability of urban public transport systems,
  • tackle transport emissions,
  • reduce road fatalities, and
  • address social aspect of transport and mobility.  

With this background, allow me to highlight three policy priorities for your consideration and further guidance.

First, review and feedback on the implementation of the Regional Action Programme for Sustainable Transport Connectivity in Asia and the Pacific, phase I (2017–2021). This is the penultimate year of the implementation, so there may be a need to realign the transport connectivity efforts in the final year of implementation.

Second, share experiences in preserving supply chain, environmentally sustainable transport system and mobility. The Committee provides an important opportunity to identify ways to enhance resiliency and inclusivity for addressing cross-cutting issues in regional transport sector.  

Furthermore, our region needs to demonstrate renewed commitment and actions on reducing road crashes and fatalities and support the implementation of the recent General Assembly Resolution on “Improving global road safety” (A/RES/74/299), and to prepare a plan of action of the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety (2021–2030).

Third, provide recommendations on defining priority areas for formulation of the new Regional Action Plan (2022-2026) and guidance to the secretariat on the preparation for the fourth session of the Ministerial Conference on Transport to be organized in 2021. The Committee’s guidance would enable the region to effectively address environmental, social and economic demands of the transport connectivity.

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

I hope that through your active participation and deliberations, the Committee will identify ways to develop sustainable transport policies and how ESCAP can best support member States in building back better from crises through regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific.

ESCAP stands ready to further leverage partnerships with the UN system, regional development organisations, subregional institutions, and multi-stakeholders. 

Thank you for your attention. I wish you a very successful Committee session.

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