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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

06 July 2021

ESCAP

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

A warm welcome to all the participants at the 2021 Asia-Pacific Climate Week.

Allow me to share some views on the key thematic areas that we will discuss this week.

In building the momentum of economic and social recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries in the Asia-Pacific region have this unique opportunity to move forward together in developing and implementing ambitious low-carbon national actions and economy-wide approaches.

More pledges from Asia and the Pacific to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 are desirable, reducing the region’s contribution to the fragile climate system.

Additionally, well-designed national and regional financial instruments, including a universal price on carbon and supported by debt swaps for sustainability, will stimulate a green post-COVID-19 recovery and boost the implementation of enhanced NDC targets and SDG commitments.

In terms of integrated approaches for climate-resilient development, the pandemic exemplifies how complex and interconnected the increasing risks and vulnerabilities are in the Asia-Pacific region. The task ahead for national governments will be to develop coherent, coordinated approaches to adapting to climate change that will effectively address increasing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. The task is daunting and will require the engagement of all stakeholders. The regional UN development partners are ready to support national governments with these tasks.

Three key sectors– energy, urban development, and transport – create opportunities for countries to raise their ambitions to meet the Paris Agreement goals and to move towards carbon neutrality as quickly as possible. Adopting mitigation and adaptation policies aligned with climate and disaster-resilient COVID-19 recovery strategies is a cost-effective pathway for making these transformations happen.

These transformational opportunities include:

First, a swift, determined move away from fossil fuels, especially the phasing out of coal use and fossil-fuel subsidies. The financial and technological case for this in the region is clear.

Second, we must embrace renewable energy solutions. Most of the countries in this region have energy as their largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The vast majority already have commitments to increasing renewable energy in their NDCs. Putting a price on carbon will drive the process forward.

Third, there needs to be a rethink and redesign of our cities, with sustainable mobility and EV-transport systems, green islands, parks and nature-based solutions at the heart of our plans. All these are opportunities to reduce emissions and increase urban resilience ready to apply in the region.

Last but not least, the region requires a complete transformation of financing and investment systems to support the greening of the economy and decarbonizing production and consumption.

ESCAP is working with partners to ensure the uptake of these opportunities  and to support transformational change. We are already providing tools and methodologies to assess the climate action readiness of countries and improve their national climate ambition. We continue working with our member States, the UN system at the regional and national level and other major stakeholders to ensure that the forthcoming COP26 will be a defining point in the global efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement.

With this, I would like to wish you a very vibrant and exciting climate week and deliberations.

Thank you very much.

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