|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Deputy Secretary-General Tells ESCAP Meeting Asia-Pacific Region
Is ‘Growth Engine’ of Global Economy
These are the remarks of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro in Bangkok on 14 October to the Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific:
It is a pleasure to be back in dynamic Bangkok to chair the Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting. I convey warm greetings from the Secretary-General. I also thank Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer for her leadership, and for being such a warm and generous host. I would also like to extend a special thanks to the more than 20 United Nations entities present here.
Bangkok is a hub of the larger United Nations system. You are a critical component of the United Nations family and your work counts, not only at the country level in the region, but at the policy-making level at Headquarters. As we continue to grapple with multiple crises, Asia-Pacific is acting as the growth engine of the global economy. The region as a whole continues to make headway in poverty reductions, thanks to income growth and pro-poor policy interventions.
The sharpest reductions in poverty worldwide continue to be recorded in eastern and south-eastern Asia, where the target of halving extreme poverty has already been met. Gender equality in education is still uneven across Asia, but some regions have shown what is possible. In eastern and south-eastern Asia, the gender gap has been closed at all three levels, with as many girls as boys enrolled in school. Encouraging progress is also being made on other Millennium Development Goals targets. While some countries face continuing challenges in improving maternal health, I am optimistic that initiatives such as Every Woman, Every Child will help deliver results.
As we recognize the region’s remarkable achievements, we must also acknowledge significant regional disparities. In some nations, large parts of the population still live in extreme poverty. The earthquakes and tsunami in Japan earlier in the year are expected to have a negative impact on growth prospects for the developing economies of the region. And the global financial and economic crisis remains a threat to progress on the Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, the Pacific small island developing States are facing critical challenges to their sustainable development as a result of climate change.
We will need to redouble efforts if we are to help all countries in the region, big or small, to achieve the progress we need in order to make sustainable development a reality for all.
Your support remains critical. Given the sheer magnitude and scale of development issues in Asia-Pacific, what happens in the ESCAP region will help determine the pace of overall progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. And while our focus remains on implementation, the United Nations is also looking beyond the 2015 deadline. Secretary-General Ban has initiated a system-wide consultation on preparations for a post-2015 United Nations development agenda. We know already that that agenda will have to more fully reflect the sustainability dimension. Regional inputs will be critical components.
In his recent speech to the General Assembly, the Secretary-General highlighted a number of imperatives and opportunities for his second term in office. These include sustainable development, conflict prevention, building a safer and more secure world, supporting nations in transition, and working with and for the world’s women and young people.
I wish to compliment ESCAP and other entities in the region for your leadership in promoting sustainable development. Asia-Pacific is playing a dynamic role in preparing for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The role of the Regional Commissions, as well as the contribution of the Regional Coordination Mechanism, will be critical to a successful Rio+20 Conference.
Experience has shown that regional preparatory processes are essential if ownership and specific perspectives are to be heard and reflected at the global level. ESCAP is known for its very strong commitment to promoting green growth and green economy. Your efforts have been recognized during the preparatory process for Rio+20. Secretary-General Ban and I look forward to the continued energetic engagement of ESCAP and other offices and entities in the region, including on the Compilation document that will serve as the basis for negotiations.
We also welcome your views on how to strengthen the institutional framework for sustainable development at the regional level. Improvements would enhance synergies at all levels as well as policy coherence among the three pillars of sustainable development. The road to Rio must also see us focus on creating joint programmes with clear agendas and timelines. The United Nations system, Governments and the business community must work together to create cross-sectoral approaches — the essence of sustainable development.
Here, I would like to stress the intertwined nature of the challenges the world faces — from climate change to extreme poverty, from the global financial crisis to the food and nutrition crises, or from global imbalances to growing inequities — our response must be collective and driven by a common purpose, at the national, regional and international level.
Let me reiterate how much we value your work. We are one United Nations family. Let us work together to build a better world — a fundamental vision shared by us all.
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