H.E. Millicent Cruz-Paredes - Ambassador of the Philippines to the Kingdom of Thailand and Permanent Representative to ESCAP
”Building Back Better” requires robust cooperation at the national, regional and international levels. It would also benefit from joint recovery plans with a whole-of-society approach. It is hard to comprehend how recent gains in our region have been interrupted and, in some cases, reversed by COVID-19 – especially in our most vulnerable sectors. We must now put ourselves in good stead not just for the current crisis but also for the coming tide.
ESCAP has a critical role as the regional body with the breadth, reach and expertise to help member States reach our Sustainable Development Goals. At this pivotal time in history, we all have an opportunity to reflect on our personal and collective experiences and focus on how we rebuild so our environment, societal inadequacies, and digital divide, to name a few – are corrected.
The Philippines will take this crucial opportunity to build a more sustainable future. Our long-term vision reflects the goals of ESCAP and the Asia-Pacific region, and together, we will create a future that is equitable for all.
Mr. Stuart Minchin - Director-General, Pacific Community
Our immediate challenge is to deal with the impact of the pandemic and its economic implications. Tourism is a major factor and so diversifying our economy is essential to protect Pacific economies against these kinds of shocks. In terms of our development aspirations, we must set our goals to move past COVID-19. The use of digital technology is one way we can be more efficient, and ensuring our fisheries are sustainable, while health and sanitation are others where we must improve to elevate our region.
ESCAP has an important role within the UN system. We have recently signed an MOU with ESCAP to support Pacific States in different sectors and this relationship is vital to SPC. Having this relationship ensures that resources are shared and our communities benefit from experts and research that will help the Pacific to not just return to pre-pandemic levels, but actually develop further.
Ms. Asel Kubanychbekova - Founder, Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Fund
Job opportunities for young people is an area of concern – and the COVID-19 pandemic magnifies this. The quality of education, increased digitalization and health services are significant challenges as well. Young people often feel the brunt of this burden, and we need all the help we can get.
ESCAP is a crucial organization to help us attract investment, provide training resources and build generational cooperation. ESCAP provides a platform for everyone to have their opinions heard and build our countries in a unified way. Young people, those with disabilities, women and other minority groups can often be overlooked. However, ESCAP, in its 75 years, has been a unifying presence so that governments can share ideas and uncover what the real issues are and ensure sustainable development is at the forefront of policymaking.
Ms. Villaney Remengesau - Secretary of OMEKESANG and Co-chair of the Pacific Disability Forum
ESCAP must become more robust in the Pacific in the coming years and partner with civil society and stakeholders more effectively. The COVID-19 pandemic has actually provided opportunities to decide what the priorities for the Pacific are and how to move forward purposely. Social and economic challenges are a huge focus for our organization, and ESCAP can engage with us on sustainable development issues.
I have worked closely with ESCAP over the years, and it can take a driving role in moving the region forward. ESCAP has the framework to bring all stakeholders together and make recommendations through its talented pool of professionals. We are all human beings, and we must be grateful for each other, take things one day at a time and be mindful of our interconnectedness. ESCAP can lead from the front and be a constant reminder of our shared goals and commonality.