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Strengthening social protection, trade, and environmental protection are key to building back better in the Asia-Pacific region, says UN report

Submitted by SCHANCHA1 on Mon, 19/04/2021 - 10:53
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G/15/2021
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Broadening social protection, investing in a sustained recovery, keeping goods and information flowing, and protecting environmental health will be key to emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a flagship report released by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today.

The theme study for the 77th session of the Commission, Beyond the pandemic: Building back better from crises in Asia and the Pacific, shows that throughout the region, countries have suffered abrupt economic contractions, interruptions to trade, broken supply chains, and the complete collapse of international tourism – leading to widespread job losses and increases in poverty. With no country spared from the effects of COVID-19, the region’s structural weaknesses are more visible now than ever before.

Specifically, the report argues for building universal social protection that extends coverage to informal workers and more women and vulnerable population groups. It points out that countries will need to strengthen trade and transport links and invest in digitalization and broadband connectivity. The report also sets out regional priorities for planetary health, identifying the institutional, structural economic and behavioural changes needed to effectively manage our human and natural environment.

"The report identifies fault lines in the region's societies and economies that the virus was quick to expose,” said Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “Not just the stark inequalities and the fragility of our health and social protection systems, but also weaknesses in internet coverage and digital capacity, and the limitations in some trade and transport links that seized up just when they were needed most."

“We hope its information and analysis will assist countries across Asia and the Pacific as they look beyond the pandemic and set a steady course towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” she added.

The report sets out an ambitious policy agenda grounded in regional cooperation. Notably, the report recommends that countries reject protectionist measures, favouring regional solidarity to aid trade facilitation and decarbonize industry, shifting to a more sustainable and lower-carbon, multimodal freight transport. To support long-term, resilient and sustainable development, countries should reorient spending away from non-developmental areas and consider tax reforms to mitigate inequalities.

The Commission, scheduled to meet from 26 to 29 April 2021, is expected to adopt a resolution based on the report findings to strengthen regional resilience and cooperation and build back better.

To read Beyond the pandemic: Building back better from crises in Asia and the Pacific in full, please use the following link: http://bit.ly/CS77ThemeStudy

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Asia and the Pacific must avoid a K-shaped recovery and invest in resilience against future shocks, says UN report

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Tue, 30/03/2021 - 10:16
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G/14/2021
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The Asia-Pacific region needs large, yet attainable, investments in resilience to protect development gains amid a fragile and inequitable post-COVID-19 economic recovery, says a  report released today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The  Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2021: Towards post-COVID-19 resilient economies forecasts that, on average, developing  Asia-Pacific economies are expected to grow by 5.9 per cent in 2021 and 5 per cent in 2022, after having experienced an estimated contraction of 1 per cent in 2020. Despite a reasonably strong rebound expected in 2021, a “K-shaped recovery” is likely, with poorer countries and more vulnerable groups marginalized in the post-pandemic recovery and transition period.

The Survey estimates that because of the pandemic, an additional 89 million people in the region could have been pushed back into extreme poverty in 2020 at the $1.90 per day threshold, erasing years of progress in poverty reduction. Working-hour losses in 2020 equaled 140 million full-time jobs, while severe disruptions of economic activity and education are likely to have caused a significant setback to human capital accumulation and productivity in the region.

For a more robust and inclusive recovery, the Survey calls for a more synchronized COVID-19 vaccination programme across countries and highlights opportunities to leverage regional cooperation. At the same time, it recommends that fiscal and monetary support should be sustained, as premature tightening could increase long-term scars.

“COVID-19 is a shock like no other and it requires a response like no other,” said Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “The time is now for the Asia-Pacific region to seize this opportunity to speed up and make its transition towards more resilient, equitable, and green development the centerpiece of the post-pandemic economic recovery.”

Looking beyond the pandemic, the Survey examines the broader risk landscape facing Asia-Pacific countries, including epidemics, natural disasters and financial crises. It finds that adverse shocks, both economic and non-economic, result in permanent economic, social and environmental losses, and advises countries to take a more comprehensive approach to building resilience against future shocks.

Specifically, the Survey proposes a “build forward better” policy package for resilient post-COVID-19 economies that aims to ensure universal access to healthcare and social protection, close the digital divide and strengthen climate and clean energy actions. It estimates that the package would reduce the number of people living in poverty in the region by almost 180 million people and cut carbon emissions by about 30 per cent in the long run.

Notably, the package would result in a modest fiscal and debt burden if accompanied by bold policy actions, such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and introducing a carbon tax. Among other potential financing solutions, the Survey also recommends debt swaps-for-development initiatives for countries with special needs and those with limited fiscal space. It also calls for international assistance to least developed countries burdened with significant “resilience gaps.”

For his part, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has recommended in a policy brief on Preventing Debt Crises In the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond: The Time to Act is Now, that countries address immediate liquidity constraints; debt overhangs and creating space for investment in crisis response, the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action; and reformation of the international debt architecture.

In conclusion, the Survey recommends that countries in the region should respond aggressively to adverse shocks to minimize the reversal of hard-won development gains. Swift and robust policy responses are needed to safeguard sustainable development in crisis times, and risk management must become central to development planning and policymaking.  

Produced annually since 1947, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific is the oldest United Nations report on the region’s progress. The Survey provides analyses to guide policy discussion on the current and emerging socio-economic issues and policy challenges to support inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. 

The full Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2021 may be accessed at: https://bit.ly/APSurvey2021

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UN sets in motion new regional collaborative platform to support countries in Asia and the Pacific in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 08:44
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G/13/2021
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Regional United Nations entities in Asia and the Pacific are scaling up efforts and coordination to support countries in their COVID-19 response and accelerate sustainable development in the region.

At the first meeting of the new Regional Collaborative Platform for Asia and the Pacific held on 23 March — a new mechanism that brings together UN development entities in the region —Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed underscored the importance of regional efforts to respond to COVID-19 and other complex challenges that know no borders. She welcomed the steps taken by the UN system at the regional level to strengthen its support to countries.

“The United Nations continues to make progress on its sweeping reforms to strengthen our work on all fronts – country, regional and global,” said Ms. Mohammed. “This platform sets the foundations for a much stronger contribution by regional UN entities to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has erased years of social-economic progress in Asia and the Pacific. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) estimates that 89 million more people in the region have been pushed back into extreme poverty at the $1.90 per day threshold, reversing years of development gains. The economic and educational shutdowns are likely to have severely harmed human capital formation and productivity, exacerbating poverty and inequality.

Under unprecedented circumstances, the UN has been making progress on its sweeping reforms to boost support to countries, leveraging its capacities at all levels.

“As a region, we have a long way to go to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. “In particular, we are regressing when it comes to climate action [Goal 13] and life below water [Goal 14]. COVID-19 has put tremendous strain on the UN family. But it has also brought out the very best in terms of collaboration and mutual support in our Regional UN team,” added Ms. Alisjahbana, who is also a Vice-Chair of the RCP. 

“The advancement of the UN reform agenda reinforces once again that we are stronger together,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General Ms. Kanni Wignaraja, Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

“The establishment of the regional collaborative platform in Asia and the Pacific during a pandemic year proves that we are in the right direction towards creating a more coherent and strengthened UN system,” added Ms. Wignaraja, who is also a Vice-Chair of the platform. “We are now better positioned to instantly respond to emerging needs and take action in fighting regional disparities. The new structure brings us closer at the regional level and also closer to the UN Country Teams and people that we serve.”

The meeting of the new Regional Collaborative Platform took place on the first day of the 8th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), which is being held online from 23 to 26 March. This new Platform was established in October 2020 after the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations to harness UN regional assets.

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UN  sets in motion new regional collaborative platform to support countries in Asia and the Pacific in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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UN forum opens with a call for greater regional cooperation to ensure sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19 in Asia and the Pacific

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Tue, 23/03/2021 - 16:04
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G/12/2021
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The 8th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) opened today with a resounding call for countries to build resilience to the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency - the twin crises that threaten our future the most.

More than 1000 delegates representing governments, civil society, businesses, and international organizations are gathered online at the Forum this week from 23 to 26 March to discuss sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The COVID-19 pandemic has erased years of social-economic progress in Asia and the Pacific. ESCAP estimates that 89 million more people in the region have been pushed back into extreme poverty at the $1.90 per day threshold, erasing years of development gains. The economic and educational shutdowns are likely to have severely harmed human capital formation and productivity, exacerbating poverty and inequality.

"The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] show the way to inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies and societies that respect people and planet," said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Amina J. Mohammed in her opening remarks. "The road ahead will not be easy, but we have the tools, energy and capacity to recover from the pandemic and make strides towards achieving the SDGs," she added. "This will be a decade of action and transformation, with ambition, urgency and scale."

United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana urged countries to "formulate a set of policy packages that could create harmony between health and economy, and between economy and the environment."

"As we prepare for sustainable and resilient recovery, let us remember that the SDGs are our compass and can continue to play a force for good in transforming our societies in the post-COVID-19 era," said Ms. Alisjahbana. "ESCAP is committed to strengthening, in close collaboration with the UN development system, multi-stakeholder partnerships at the regional, subregional and national levels to recover better together." 

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that business as usual will not suffice," said H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Thailand. "Homegrown development approaches will have a vital role to play in reviving our economies and societies, as well as our quest to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs."

"We must address the structural obstacles which impede global growth and exacerbate inequality," underscored H.E. Munir Akram, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). "We must build equitable trade, taxation, and technology regimes and enable the developing countries to unshackle the potential of their peoples for sustainable production and consumption. The country members of the Asia-Pacific region have a vital role in promoting such a transition to a more equal, dynamic and prosperous world."

Civil society representative Ms. Wanun Permpibul, Climate Watch, Thailand added, "The COVID-19 pandemic will change the world. It is not enough to build back better. We need to build back fairer, and we need to build back differently. We must make sure the crisis delivers our region a healthier, kinder, more equitable future for all."

This year, delegates at the APFSD will review Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 12, 13, 16, and 17 in Asia and the Pacific. The Forum will also play a unique role as a catalyzer of solutions and peer learning to accelerate transformations for implementing the 2030 Agenda while recovering from COVID-19.

On the sidelines, ESCAP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched the latest edition of the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership Report - Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Leaving No Country Behind. The report identifies pathways to recovery and how to build resilience in the region. It calls for a renewed focus on people and inclusive cooperation and underscores that environmental sustainability must become central to economic and physical integration efforts.

One of the report’s key findings is that inventive responses to the pandemic showed digitalization might be one of the most powerful forces of societal and economic change.  Regional cooperation must also support countries to build greater resilience. These measures will be vital to mitigate the threat of an uneven recovery between countries where some are left behind and prepare countries to deal with future shocks.

Since 2014, the APFSD has provided a unique annual platform for countries in Asia and the Pacific to share perspectives, challenges, and best practices as they progress toward implementing the SDGs. Outcomes from the APFSD will provide input into the global discussions held at the High-Level Political Forum in July this year.

The full Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership report can be accessed at: https://sdgasiapacific.net/knowledge-products/0000022/

For more information on the 8th APFSD: https://bit.ly/30SSWLm

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Sustainable Development Goals can guide Asia and the Pacific to build back better, says UN report

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 10:33
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G/11/2021
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The Asia-Pacific region must accelerate progress everywhere and urgently reverse its regressing trends on many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve its ambitions by 2030, says a report released today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

The 2021 edition of the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report shows that the region fell short of its 2020 milestones for the Goals, even before entering the global pandemic.  In the last decade, Asia and the Pacific has made extraordinary progress in good health and well-being (Goal 3), which may partly explain its relative success in reducing the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its population. Yet despite these hard-won gains, the region faces many challenges, such as providing an adequate healthcare workforce, reducing premature deaths and improving mental health.

An alarming observation in the report is regressing climate action trends (Goal 13) and life below water (Goal 14). The Asia-Pacific region is responsible for more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions and adverse impacts of natural disasters on people and economies increase year-by-year. As we find our way out of this pandemic, the report suggests we must focus efforts on more equitable and greener growth.

“Recovery measures are an excellent opportunity for us to rethink our options for development pathways that are inclusive, more resilient, and respect planetary boundaries,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. “As we enter the Decade of Action to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we need to reinforce our collective commitment to the SDGs and let it provide our compass for building back together, better and greener.”

The report highlights the impact of mandatory lockdowns and social distancing measures on data collection activities, particularly from vulnerable groups. To build back better, Governments should renew their commitments to the SDGs’ monitoring framework so that recovery can accelerate a global transformation as promised by the 2030 Agenda.

As part of its commitment to support countries with national level follow-up and review of the SDGs, ESCAP has developed a “National SDG Tracker” tool for countries looking to replicate the progress assessment found in the report. National governments can use the tool to produce snapshots of progress towards the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda.

Download the full Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report here: http://bit.ly/SDGProgress2021.

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First Regional Review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Concludes in Asia and the Pacific

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 16:00
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G/10/2021
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The first regional review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Asia and the Pacific concluded today with a call for greater collaboration among countries in the region to implement this global framework for action to reap the benefits of migration for all.

The review, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Regional UN Network on Migration for Asia and the Pacific* from 10 to 12 March, brought together over 200 government representatives and stakeholders who discussed concrete steps to align migration with sustainable development and respect for human and labour rights in and beyond the COVID-19 era.

Prior to the review, five consultations were held with diverse stakeholders to ensure their participation in the review process and provide them with opportunities to put forward recommendations.

Among the conclusions at the review was the need to seize the opportunity to reimagine human mobility in Asia and the Pacific. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the region further behind in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In light of this, delegates called for stronger collaboration amongst Governments in implementing the Global Compact in the region to ensure that no one is left behind. Policies should respect labour and human rights and be gender-responsive and child-sensitive.

The review also ensured that Asia and the Pacific would be well represented at the International Migration Review Forum in 2022 to make migration a priority in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region.

“As most migration is regional in nature, we must advance regional cooperation and partnerships at the regional, subregional and bilateral levels,” said Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “Let us work together, countries, intergovernmental organizations, stakeholders and UN entities. No country can address the challenges and opportunities of migration alone. We must be ambitious and advance practical implementation of the Global Compact.”

“As we learned from the pandemic – no one is safe until everyone is safe; therefore, a migrant-inclusive approach is key to finding a sustainable solution,” said H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. “No matter how overwhelmed we are by the impacts of COVID-19, we can and must continue to advance. We must use the Global Compact to its full potential in overcoming these challenges.”

“This regional review offered the participants an opportunity to compare experiences among countries, share good practices and enhance collective actions in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Mr. António Vitorino, Director-General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Coordinator of the UN Network on Migration. “Today, member States and stakeholders have demonstrated the relevance and tangible value of the Global Compact for millions of migrants in the region.”

Ms. Chihoko Asada-Miyakawa, Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, ILO added, “COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on migrant workers, and they should be integral to our plans as we seek to build back better after the pandemic. Policies and approaches need to be fairer and more inclusive if we are to provide the protection and access to decent work that migrants deserve.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of international migrants has grown from 52 million in 1990 to over 65 million today, roughly 25 per cent of all the world’s international migrants. Notably, 70 per cent of all international migrants in Asia and the Pacific come from within the region.

The Asia-Pacific review will feed into the first International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) in 2022, informing the Forum of regional trends, challenges, successful practices and emerging issues in the region.

For more information:
Download the Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2020         

Visit the event page: https://bit.ly/2Psh4lz

___________

* The member agencies are: ESCAP, ILO, IOM, OCHA, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP, UN DRR, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFCCC, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC, UN Women, WFP and World Bank. IOM serves as coordinator and secretariat of the network.

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First Regional Review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration Concludes in Asia and the Pacific

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Achieving an equal future for women in Asia and the Pacific in the post-COVID-19 era

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Mon, 08/03/2021 - 11:49
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G/09/2021
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A dialogue among women leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to mark International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021 highlighted the need for Governments to continue their efforts to promote and ensure equal participation and representation of women in decision-making in the region.

Held under the IWD 2021 theme, ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,’ the event organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) provided a virtual platform to share experiences, and recognize the tremendous efforts by women and girls in the region in shaping an equal recovery from COVID-19.

A joint report launched at today’s event by ESCAP and UN Women The Long Road to Equality: Taking stock of the situation of women and girls in Asia and the Pacific for Beijing+25: A synthesis report, shows that, although levels of women’s representation in the region have increased, uneven progress, both within countries and regionally, indicates that achieving gender equality in decision-making is a significant challenge in Asia and the Pacific.

“Without the active participation of women and the incorporation of women’s perspectives at all levels of decision making, the goals of equality, development and peace cannot be achieved,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. “Within the context of COVID-19, it is now more important than ever to transform discriminatory gender-based social norms, legal frameworks and institutional structures.”

“The effective representation of women in public life and decision-making needs to be recognized, not only as being of intrinsic value, but also as the primary way through which decisions, institutions and financing will become gender-responsive,” said United Nations Assistant-Secretary-General and UN Women Deputy Executive Director, Anita Bhatia.

Ms. Smriti Irani, Minister for Women and Child Development, India, stated that India regards women-led development as pivotal for socio-economic progress. The Honorable Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi’s vision of a self-reliant India, an ‘Atmanirbhar’ India, is imbued with the belief that women are key agents for achieving transformational change that is essential for sustainable development.

Ms. B.Battsetseg, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mongolia, noted that throughout history, women in Mongolia had held a higher social status and a legacy as leaders compared to the rest of the world. She further underscored that an enabling legal environment, changing societal stereotyping, access to equal opportunities, and increasing women's participation at the decision-making level is crucial to achieving gender equality and women empowerment.

This year’s IWD theme echoes the priority theme of the upcoming 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, ‘Women's full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls,’ and the flagship Generation Equality campaign.

Participants at the regional event included representatives of Governments, the diplomatic community, the UN system, other international organizations, civil society organizations, academia, and youth groups.

Read the full report The Long Road to Equality: https://bit.ly/3ucnaqf

For more information: http://bit.ly/3dL9yMH

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Sustainable energy key to building back better from COVID-19 in Asia-Pacific says UN regional meeting

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Wed, 24/02/2021 - 11:56
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G/08/2021
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The Asia-Pacific region’s move towards a sustainable, low-carbon energy future is now more critical than ever as it builds back better together from the COVID-19 pandemic, high-level delegates stressed today at the opening of the Third Session of the Committee on Energy, convened by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Delegates are gathered online this week from 24 to 26 February to review the region’s progress on energy priorities for the region, including ensuring universal access to modern energy and accelerating the uptake of renewables and energy efficiency in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The pandemic has increased focus on resilience and how societies and critical sectors such as energy supply can enhance their capacity to weather shocks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is the region’s energy systems have continued to function throughout the pandemic. The new Regional Trends Report 2021 Shaping a sustainable energy future in Asia and the Pacific: A greener, more resilient and inclusive energy system, released by ESCAP today shows the energy demand reductions have mainly affected fossil fuels and depressed oil and gas prices. Renewable energy development in countries across the region, such as China and India, has continued at a healthy pace throughout 2020. “The past year has been a testing and transformative time for the Asia-Pacific region,” said United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana in her opening remarks at the Committee.

“As we work together to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, ESCAP has been using its platform to support our members to respond to the long-term challenge of building back better,” said Ms. Alisjahbana. “Energy is essential not just for hospitals and healthcare but to support the systems and coping mechanisms we rely on to work remotely, continue education, and to communicate essential health information to citizens. Accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy offers an opportunity to assist countries in the region to recover from the pandemic towards a cleaner and low carbon future.”

In his remarks, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy of Thailand Mr. Kulit Somatsiri highlighted that urgent action is needed to ensure sustainable energy development and economic recovery measures as part of the COVID-19 response.

“The energy needs in the Asia-Pacific region are growing faster than anywhere else in the world. While we need to meet increased demand, secure energy supplies, and ensure that the energy system is sustainable, affordable, and low carbon, at the same time, we all need to adapt to the ‘new normal’ situation,” he said. “This requires close collaboration and coordination among members in which ESCAP will play an important role to facilitate this transition process thoroughly and systematically.”

The newly elected Chair of the Committee, Hon. Jone Usamate, Minister for Infrastructure and Meteorological Services, Government of Fiji, underscored the importance of the deliberations and highlighted the need to ensure that the session generates concrete decisions that shape the future of energy transitions in the Asia-Pacific region.

This year, the Committee is expected to endorse decisions to enhance cross-border power grid connectivity and continue supporting countries to develop policy frameworks to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7. The Committee will also finalize the terms of reference of expert working groups established by the Commission to undertake analysis on energy connectivity and achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7.

Read the full Regional Trends Report 2021: http://bit.ly/3dGBkdi

For more information: https://www.unescap.org/events/committee-energy-third-session

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Road freight in ASEAN: New COVID-19 Response and Recovery Guidelines

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 20:38
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G/07/2021
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The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Member States will have new tools to help them address issues related to road freight transport caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the initiatives under the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework. ASEAN has approved guidelines to support the response and recovery of road freight transport among its Member States in the context of the pandemic.

The guidelines will support Member States to develop national and regional plans that focus on resilient and sustainable road freight connectivity. They will provide recommendations for responses to the pandemic crisis in the three priority areas, namely: (i) transport workers’ safety and training; (ii) preserving connectivity for efficient and resilient supply chains; and (iii) building back better through digital, resilient and decarbonized transport connectivity in immediate, medium and long-term framework to support the development of cross-border road freight transport in the region.

Specifically, the guidelines:

  • categorise policy responses to Covid-19 related to transport connectivity and resilience;
  • propose principles for the implementation of policies and measures;
  • suggest a communication mechanism for the timely exchange of relevant information, and
  • provide insights for the creation of a real-time monitoring tool to gauge the impact of policy interventions on transport connectivity, capacity and resilience.

Developed with the assistance of the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the COVID-19 Recovery Guidelines for Resilient and Sustainable International Road Freight Transport Connectivity in ASEAN were approved ad-referendum by the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting (STOM) on 11 January 2021.

In response to the Guidelines, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana said:

“Transport connectivity is now as vital as ever. While we commend the great efforts made by our region to keep freight flowing across borders during the pandemic, we remain acutely aware that more must be done for Asia and the Pacific to stay competitive and fully recover from the crisis. The ASEAN Guidelines pave the way to a more connected, resilient and sustainable future and ESCAP sees this ambitious initiative as one of the milestones in the region’s pandemic response."

Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dato Lim Jock Hoi added:

“The Guidelines support ASEAN’s efforts in improving the stability of road freight flows in the region toward longer-term resilience, preparedness, and competitiveness of ASEAN. They are also in line  with the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which serves as the region’s coordinated exit strategy from the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in restoring transport connectivity in the region.  Cooperation with ITF and ESCAP in developing the Guidelines signifies the importance of collaboration to support the region’s recovery.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of STOM, Chhieng Pich, Director-General, General Department of Logistics, Ministry of Public Works and Transport of Cambodia noted:

“The completion of the Guidelines is timely to support ASEAN Member States in establishing their regional and national road transport connectivity recovery plans from the Covid-19 pandemic’s disruption. ASEAN’s cooperation in building back better the road freight transport in the region is important and ASEAN transport sector has taken a quick decision in responding to the crisis by developing the Guidelines. ASEAN transport sector welcomes collaboration from the relevant stakeholders to accelerate implementation of the Guidelines.”

In conclusion, ITF Secretary-General Young Tae Kim said:

“I am proud of this important contribution the ITF is making to ensure the seamless flow of road freight in South-East Asia and helping ASEAN Member States build a more resilient and at the same time more sustainable transport future. The collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and UNESCAP on this project has been outstanding, and a shining example of how international cooperation can translate into positive impact on the lives of our citizens.”

The Guidelines are part of the initiatives under the Implementation Plan of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which was adopted at the 37th ASEAN Summit in November 2020.  The Guidelines are available online at: https://asean.org/storage/asean-covid-19-guidelines.pdf

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United Nations and SHE Investments launch a mobile bookkeeping app for women entrepreneurs

Submitted by CBOONTHA on Fri, 12/02/2021 - 14:37
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G/06/2021
Origin Location
Bangkok
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ESCAP News
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Today, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and SHE Investments are pleased to announce the launch of the KOTRA- Riel bookkeeping app - the first tool designed to support Cambodian micro-entrepreneurs plan, manage cash flows and access formal financial services.

One of the greatest barriers women entrepreneurs face in growing and scaling their business is access to finance. Limited collateral, lack of financial history, and low digital literacy are key challenges facing women micro-entrepreneurs. KOTRA-Riel works to tackle these challenges by creating a simple, user-friendly experience that allows those who are not technically savvy to track business earning and expenses at the click of a button.

ESCAP and UNCDF initiated the Women Fintech MSME Innovation Fund in 2019 to support FinTechs, financial service providers, and innovators to develop, test, and scale solutions that support women entrepreneurs to succeed. Over the past two years, the Fund has provided financial and technical support to SHE Investments; a Cambodian social enterprise whose mission is to build a gender-inclusive ecosystem that enables women-led Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to scale and create social, economic and environmental impact.

SHE’s core activities include business incubators, accelerators, and investment-readiness programs designed for Cambodian women and introducing innovative tools to improve digital and financial inclusion and financial management, which is where KOTRA-Riel comes in.

The KOTRA Riel app is the idea of SHE’s founding team, particularly Lida Loem, who leads the delivery of SHE’s incubator and accelerator programs. “The women we work with are always complaining about not knowing how to effectively manage their money,” says Ms. Loem. “There are digital tools designed for very educated people, for business-people, for English-speaking people, but not for them.” This led SHE Investments to identify a critical gap in the tools available for the hundreds of entrepreneurs supported by SHE Investments. A simple, Khmer-language application that enables women to track income, expenses, inventory, cash-flow, generate reports for financial institutions, and – perhaps most importantly – separate their household finances from business finances.

“Too many women entrepreneurs in Cambodia and the region are at a disadvantage because they simply don’t have access to the digital and financial tools and knowledge that they need to operate their businesses effectively,” said ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary Kaveh Zahedi. “We are proud to have supported SHE Investments in developing this bookkeeping solution that is tailored to the needs of local women entrepreneurs. We hope this initiative can inspire and be used by the countless women entrepreneurs that are looking to build their digital and financial skills to access formal finance and in the end to just grow their businesses.”

UNCDF SHIFT Programme Manger Rajeev Kumar Gupta added, “The KOTRA- Riel app will help women MSMEs in Cambodia to reduce their reliance on fixed asset collateral. KOTRA-Riel is an innovative solution that uses business transaction data as an alternative to fixed collateral to make credit assessments. Given the COVID-19 impact on the overall Cambodian economy, this app can be instrumental for the recovery of MSMEs by providing them easier financing opportunities.”

The development of the KOTRA-Riel app was supported by the ESCAP Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship initiative, funded by the Government of Canada and the UNCDF SHIFT ASEAN programme. The app will be rolled out across the country through face-to-face training, bridging the digital and in-person experience, which allows women entrepreneurs to enhance their financial and digital literacy. ESCAP, through its Asian and Pacific Training Centre for ICT for Development (APCICT), and SHE Investments will partner with training providers in disseminating and expanding the reach of the mobile app to women entrepreneurs.    

For more information on KOTRA-Riel, visit: https://www.kotrariel.com/

Note to Editors:

About the Partnership

This initiative is implemented under a regional programme initiative titled ‘Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship: Creating a Gender-Responsive Entrepreneurial Ecosystem’ funded by the Government of Canada and implemented by ESCAP. For more information, visit https://www.unescap.org/projects/cwe

The Women MSME FinTech Innovation Fund is jointly implemented by ESCAP’s Catalyzing Women’s Entrepreneurship programme, in partnership with the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF), under its ‘leaving no one behind in the digital era’ strategy.  The fund is financially supported by the Government of Canada, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank (FMO) and Visa Inc.

About SHE Investment

SHE Investments is a social enterprise with headquarters based in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Launched by three Australian and Cambodian co-founders in 2015 with a pilot SHE Incubator Program, the first gender-focused, culturally tailored incubator for women entrepreneurs in Cambodia. Alongside the SHE Incubator program, they also design and deliver Accelerator, Financial Literacy, Digital Literacy, Investment Readiness and other programs and innovative tools designed to build a gender inclusive ecosystem to enable women entrepreneurs to scale their businesses and create social, economic and environmental impact for their communities.

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