Representatives of governments from across Asia and the Pacific have wrapped up a three-day development policy forum at the regional United Nations headquarters here endorsing an agenda to lay the foundations of a future of equitable, resilient and sustainable prosperity for all.
Attended by over 300 participants from 45 countries, with more than 40 senior leaders, including heads of State and Government, Vice-Presidents, Deputy Prime Ministers, Ministers, Deputy Ministers and former Ministers, the 69th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held from 25 April to 1 May concluded with the adoption of a record 17 resolutions aiming to balance the economic, social and environmental dimensions of regional well-being.
Addressing the closing ceremony, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. Noeleen Heyzer said the world body’s annual regional assembly this year offered “the opportunity to grow better, to close development gaps, to build resilience, to end hunger, and to ensure the inclusive and sustainable future we want”.
The first ESCAP Session since the landmark United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Brazil in June 2012, the intergovernmental meeting focused on the growing threat from increasingly severe natural disasters and economic shocks which have worsened already high levels of economic, social and environmental fragility in the region.
“The true opportunity of rising Asia-Pacific is to change the idea of progress – to prove that people and planet prosper best together. This is the next great transformation; it entails the building of more resilient economies and communities, and the adoption of more forward-looking macroeconomic policies; it thrives on greater partnerships between regions and amongst the countries of the global South,” the ESCAP Executive Secretary added.
A highlight on the closing day of the ESCAP Session was the first ever dialogue among the chiefs of the United Nations regional commissions from around the world to review and explore the role they can play in harnessing cooperation among the world’s developing countries in support of inclusive and sustainable development.
The Executive Secretaries of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), joined the ESCAP Executive Secretary in discussing the potential for South-South cooperation at a time when developing countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region are anchoring global economic recovery.
“We have entered an era in which South-South Cooperation will play an increasingly important role. While regional economic integration is already an important trend, it is time for us to unlock the real potential of inter-regional cooperation,” Dr. Heyzer told Asia-Pacific countries at the conclusion of the ESCAP Session.
In closing, Dr. Heyzer underscored the clear message coming from the Commission Session: “Disaster risk management and better preparedness are key development imperatives; people at every level must be empowered partners in change; political, technical and financial resources must be mobilized before shocks hit; apathy is our biggest risk; and early warnings and early actions save lives and livelihoods.”