|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
ASIA PACIFIC MUST PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE, EFFICIENT ENERGY USE,
SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL IN MESSAGE TO BANGKOK MEETING
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the sixty-fourth session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), delivered by Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, in Bangkok, 28 April:
It gives me great pleasure to send my greetings and best wishes to all of you as you gather in the ESCAP Hall on the occasion of the sixty-fourth Commission session.
I recall fondly my own visit to ESCAP last December, at the start of my first visit to the Asia-Pacific region as Secretary-General. I said at the time that ESCAP is well placed to be the regional hub for promoting sustainable and inclusive development in the region. I also look to ESCAP to become a major forum for follow-up to Bali, in articulating the Asia-Pacific perspective of a framework beyond 2012. I am glad that you have chosen as your theme for the sixty-fourth session “energy security and sustainable development”.
The Asia-Pacific is lagging behind in providing access to energy services. Some 1.7 billion people in the region are using traditional biomass fuels and 1 billion people still lack access to electricity. The Asia-Pacific has the largest number of victims from indoor air pollution caused by burning biomass fuels.
While soaring energy prices dominate news headlines, the human suffering of energy price hikes is often forgotten. The victims are very poor people who have no access to affordable and reliable energy supply to meet their daily subsistence requirements. They pay a much higher price -- in terms of failing health; lost opportunities for education or employment, especially for girls and women; and environmental degradation.
The Asia-Pacific region must promote sustainable and efficient energy use. Between 1990 and 2004, per capita energy consumption in the region more than doubled -- a pace of increase not seen elsewhere in the world. As a result, carbon dioxide emissions have increased drastically, posing a serious challenge to our efforts to address climate change.
As you discuss these issues, I urge you to look at innovative ways to promote the efficient use of energy, better energy management, cleaner production and consumption, changes in lifestyle and the wider use of renewable energy. As your chosen theme clearly states, energy security is closely linked with sustainable development.
You will also discuss the vital issue of reaching the Millennium Development Goals in the ESCAP region. Of the 1 billion poorest people in the world, nearly two thirds are in your region. Our global endeavour to achieve the MDGs would succeed, or fail, depending on the effectiveness of Asia-Pacific endeavours in which you play a critical role. I have declared this year to be a year of the bottom billion, and will convene a high-level meeting on MDGs this September. I look forward to fresh impetus to that meeting from your region, with contributions generated by your deliberations in this Commission session.
You also have before you the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2008,which rightly focuses on one of the longer term causes of poverty -- the neglect of agriculture, which is a main source of livelihood for the poor. With food prices soaring, the Survey sends a timely warning to all of us -- we ignore agriculture at our peril. It is encouraging to learn from the Survey that improving agricultural productivity in the Asia-Pacific to the levels prevailing in middle-income countries could get 218 million people out of poverty.
ESCAP is the only regional intergovernmental forum in which all the countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region come together to discuss issues of common concern, to build consensus and to foster stronger partnerships. I urge all of you to fully utilize this, your own forum, to articulate the Asia-Pacific voice and leadership on development concerns, and wish you a most productive and successful session.
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