Senior government representatives from across Asia and the Pacific on Friday called for greater efforts to advance equality and empowerment for over four billion people across the region.
Over 800 delegates attended the 75th Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held from 27 to 31 May in Bangkok, which concluded with the adoption of nine resolutions aimed at strengthening regional cooperation and partnerships towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Addressing the closing ceremony, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Alisjahbana said the decisions reached by member States will help guide the work of the regional body. “The resolutions are firmly anchored in the 2030 Agenda and provide solid foundations on which to build upon. Many are aligned with the priorities I set out earlier this week and are essential to achieving a transformed and resilient society in Asia and the Pacific.”
She further emphasized, “To deliver against these priorities, and others set by the 2030 Agenda, our ability to work effectively at the sub regional and regional level is critical. I am therefore pleased we were able to hold the first-ever dialogue with all major sub regional groups present in one session. I hope this will be a first step towards more systematically identifying common priorities to complement each other’s work, and to facilitate best practice exchange between subregions.”
The theme of this year’s week-long meeting highlighted the need for greater empowerment and inclusion of marginalized groups. A report released to coincide with the meeting highlighted that the region was not on track to meet any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
Despite significant increase in the availability of SDG indicators since 2017, data gaps remain for two thirds of the global SDG indicators. Endorsing the Declaration on Navigating Policy with Data to Leave No One Behind, member States recognized reliable and timely statistics as indispensable for evidence-based decision making, transparency, accountability and inclusive societies.
Innovation and use of new technologies for sustainable development and building community resilience also featured prominently among the resolutions passed. Delegates endorsed a call to advance science, technology and innovation, as well as implementation of the Asia-Pacific Plan of Action on Space Applications for Sustainable Development (2018 – 2030), and the Asia-Pacific Information Superhighway.
Member States also agreed on the urgent need for regional cooperation to tackle air pollution challenges, and diversification of energy sources in this respect. Air pollution has increased considerably in recent years leading to a rise in premature deaths, threatening livelihoods and the sustainable development in the region, particularly in many cities with growing populations where air pollution is a major public health hazard.
Strengthening the development of national and local disaster risk reduction strategies was also underlined as a priority, through the Asia Regional Plan and Action Plan 2018-2020 for Implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The Commission further committed to strengthen the link between national, regional and global follow-up and review to the 2030 Agenda, and to continue providing capacity building assistance to landlocked developing countries towards the smooth implementation of the six priorities of the Vienna Programme of Action.