It is a pleasure to convey my greetings to the 2012 Ministerial Conference on Transport.
Thank you for your commitment to making sustainable, effective and efficient transport in the Asia-Pacific region a reality for all.
The transport sector plays an ever growing role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and enhancing opportunities. As you begin your deliberations, I urge you to keep one word uppermost in your mind: access.
Access is the heart of this conference: access to work, to markets and shops, to schools and colleges, to family and friends, to hospitals and sports facilities.
Yet too many people are still waiting for the road or rail track that will lead to a brighter future. Industry leaders are still waiting for transport measures that will enhance competitiveness. The region as a whole is still waiting for full physical and institutional connectivity between the subregions.
We have made important progress together. The formulation of the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks were underpinned by two intergovernmental agreements negotiated under the auspices of ESCAP.
Now is the time to take our achievements to the next level by developing dry ports and other facilities that will enable us to maximize the use of these valuable regional assets, reduce transport costs, and link high- and low-growth countries in ‘corridors of prosperity’.
We must also work to improve safety. Last year marked the launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety, a UN-wide global initiative involving governments, the private sector and civil society. Let us keep working together to reduce the number of tragic accidents on the region’s roads and highways.
These challenges call for ambitious and innovative policies. I know that I can rely on the Governments of this region to lead the charge - working in partnership for the people of Asia-Pacific.
I wish you every success in your deliberations.