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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

26 September 2021


Excellency Mr. WANG Yi, State Councilor, Minister of Foreign Affairs 

Excellency Mr. Ma Jiantang, Minister of Development Research Committee (DRC) 

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-secretary-general of UN DESA 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, 

A warm welcome to all participants in the Sustainable Development Forum 2021. ESCAP is pleased to co-host this important “People-Centered Sustainable Development” Forum which focuses on five priority areas: namely poverty and inclusive development; COVID-19 responses and health governance; green transition and carbon neutrality; digital technologies; and international cooperation on sustainable development. 

It is very timely that the Forum focuses on these five priorities as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people, with major implications for vulnerable population groups and households that are already on the verge of poverty. Countries in the region are looking for models of recovery that could bring the countries to a better and sustainable path of development. 

The pandemic has exposed inherent vulnerabilities in our economies. It is clear that a recovery in economic growth alone would not make our economies more stable and sustainable in the long term. We need to create a future growth model which is more resilient to both economic and non-economic shocks. The current pandemic in addition to the impact of climate change is just a reminder of the elevated non-economic risks that we increasingly have to face. The pandemic has also accelerated and harnessed the power of digitalization while recognizing the need for mitigating its negative aspects.  

Three sets of policy challenges need to be addressed for maintaining stability during the post-pandemic recovery and economic transformation namely: 

  • Widened inequality gaps that threaten social cohesion and stability 

  • Structural disruptions caused by pandemic and post-pandemic transformations 

  • The impact of digitalization on economic opportunity and human capital formation. 

Post-pandemic recovery not only poses challenges but offers opportunities for countries to recover better together. We need to learn the lessons from the pandemic. We learn that the pandemic has brought the importance of public health care and management. We also learn that countries can no longer putting off protecting development gains from adverse shocks, making development inclusive. The socio-economic impact of the pandemic was amplified due to lack of resilience and investments in people and the planet. Therefore, policy support and recovery strategy should focus on sustainability in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. The regions needs a transformation towards an inclusive, resilient and sustainable or green-blue economies.  

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

Allow me to provide priority areas for an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery. To recover better together and to address the widening inequality gap, we need to build more inclusive societies by ensuring:  

  • continuity in fiscal and financial support for vulnerable groups and hardest-hit businesses until a robust recovery 

  • promoting an employment-led recovery and  

  • closing social protection coverage gaps  

To create more resilient economies and better prepared for future crisis, we need to ensure that countries in the region are: 

  • prepared for climate-disaster-health emergencies 

  • creating more resilient regional supply chains 

  • ensuring conducive trade and investment for recovery and 

  • strengthening transport and transit policies. 

To build green and blue economies and better prepared for future crisis, we need to:  

  • embed long-term sustainability in COVID-19 policy response,  

  • incorporate environmental sustainability into business investment processes and 

  • accelerate green-blue public investment, including clean energy and climate-resilient infrastructure. 

Finally, we need to harness the power of digitalization by promoting digitalization processes and scaling up the digital-based economy. Digitalization processes cover areas such as:  

  • developing e-health care services 

  • promoting e-education and 

  • digitalizing government services  

While the elements for scaling up digital-based economy would comprise of: 

  • digital technology for resilient economies 

  • investment in technological innovation and  

  • encouraging the private sector to also digitized their work and services  

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,  

China is one of the remarkable countries in the poverty alleviation success as well as its commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Many lessons learned, best practices of China on SDG implementation will be very valuable to be shared with other countries in this Forum. 

And what we learned from the endless efforts of China is that a key enabling factor is cooperation and partnership among countries. My appreciation to  President Xi Jinping statement at the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in that we need to “work together to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth.”  

ESCAP stands ready to support member States and stakeholders in the accelerated implementation of SDGs in the region and beyond. 

I wish you a very successful Forum. Thank you very much. 

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