Deputy Secretary-General, to Regional Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Meeting, Stresses Regional Cooperation Key to Tackling Pressing Challenges

3 November 2009

Deputy Secretary-General, to Regional Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia Meeting, Stresses Regional Cooperation Key to Tackling Pressing Challenges

3 November 2009
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General, to Regional Economic and Social Commission for Western

Asia Meeting, Stresses Regional Cooperation Key to Tackling Pressing Challenges

Following is the text of UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s address to the opening of the Regional Coordination Mechanism Meeting of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) today, in Beirut, Lebanon:

I am honoured, once again, to be with you in Beirut for the Thirteenth Meeting of the Regional Coordination Mechanism, or RCM.  I bring you warm regards from the Secretary-General.

We all appreciate that the objective of the RCM is mainly to achieve policy coherence and create synergy at the regional and subregional levels to improve the impact of our work.  Not for the sake of coordination itself, but to help facilitate real results for our clients ‑‑ the Governments and peoples of our Member States.

I am particularly pleased to participate in this first joint meeting of the RCM and the Regional Directors’ Team, or RDT.  Coordination and collaboration within and among United Nations agencies is central to our work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and our other objectives.

As our colleagues have emphasized, the Arab region faces important challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and addressing the impact of climate change.  Many countries continue to suffer the effects of conflict.  Food insecurity, the financial crisis and the fuel crisis have accentuated existing disparities among and within countries in the region.

Globally, the financial crisis has pushed 100 million people back into extreme poverty, and cost more than 50 million jobs this year alone.  Although some markets are bouncing back, the so-called green shoots of recovery have not produced many new jobs.  The crisis will not be over until those who want to work can.

This is why we have put forward a Global Jobs Pact.  And this is why we are creating a new Global Impact Vulnerability Alert System ‑‑ or GIVAS.  For Government policymaking to be smart and effective, it must be informed by real-time data and analysis on how the crisis is affecting the poorest and most vulnerable.  And to collect this data, we need your help.

The RCM is mandated by ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council] to mobilize and bring together regional efforts for more efficient and more coordinated United Nations work across the Arab States.  It is also mandated to work with regional agencies in tackling priority issues, and to ensure that our response to various challenges is coherent across the United Nations system.

This is the focus of today’s meeting.  I would like to reiterate the comments the Secretary-General made on regional cooperation and integration at the Arab Economic and Social Summit.  I quote:  “Many of the region’s most pressing challenges, from migration to managing water resources, require cross-boundary solutions.  Regional cooperation is your strength.”

Let us reflect today on our combined strength.  Each of you, as separate agencies, programmes and funds, have decades of experience in this region ‑‑ experience that spans a wide variety of issues.

What unites us is our commitment to the right of all children, women and men to live full and dignified lives, with the opportunity and freedom to realize their full potential.  I am heartened by the kind words of Ms. [Bahia] Hariri [Minister of Education and Higher Education] when we met before coming to this room.  She has encouraged me to enhance the level of coordination in our work even further.

We must accelerate the pace and increase the quality of our efforts to achieve this goal.  This must be the focus of our deliberations today and beyond this meeting.

I want to underscore the urgency of this agenda.  With just over five years left in the Millennium Development Goals period, we must do everything possible to ensure that the Goals are met, across this region, and within each country.

Western Asia shows us that great progress can be made when good policies are matched with adequate resources.  Child and maternal mortality are low across the region, and extreme poverty is limited.  Still, more can be done.  More children need to be enrolled in school, good jobs should be available to more people, and greater efforts are needed to address pockets of hunger.

The General Assembly has endorsed the Secretary-General’s call for a high-level plenary meeting on the Millennium Development Goals at the beginning of the sixty-fifth session, in September 2010.  We hope this will enable us to catalyse effective action to replicate and scale-up existing successes, to fill gaps in our progress towards the Goals, and to make good on the Millennium Development Goals’ promise for all of the world’s people.

We need your input and engagement.   And we need it soon.  The regions can play a vital role in identifying success stories, pointing out challenges that are not being addressed and helping countries to mobilize financing.  I encourage you all to make the 2010 meeting a key focus of your work over the next year.

Even more immediately, we must ensure the success of the climate change conference in December in Copenhagen.  I urge you to work with Governments in the region so that they can constructively engage in this process.  Help them to formulate and propose useful solutions in those areas where consensus remains elusive.  Give them technical and policy assistance to turn green ambitions into green reality.

In this vein, I am heartened to see that the Regional Commissions are using the RCMs to investigate new and better ways of developing partnerships.  This will enable the United Nations system to respond to the needs of our Member States in a more efficient and coherent manner. Today, in the joint meeting with the Regional Directors’ Team, you will have the added opportunity to clarify how the two mechanisms can collaborate to make the most of the expertise and resources located across the United Nations system.

Our goal is to help the region achieve greater security and stability, and to enhance its capacity to improve the lives of its people.

I wish you a successful meeting and I look forward to the results of your deliberations.

Shoukran jazeelan.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.