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Costs on the rise and volatile, but trade facilitation could mitigate challenges ahead

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Fri, 05/04/2024 - 11:23
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G/12/2024
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Samarkand
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ESCAP News
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Despite high implementation rates in various trade facilitation reforms in the region, progress in paperless trade has been slow and uneven, while growing geopolitical tensions and heightened inflation have further made business between countries more difficult and unpredictable, said the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in a new report.

Countries continue to face challenges in cross-border paperless trade, as shown by the average implementation rate of only 42 per cent, according to the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Report 2024. However, the implementation of digital trade facilitation measures could yield a reduction of 11 per cent in trade costs.

The report was launched at the 11th Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum which took place in Samarkand this week. More than 250 participants from 30 countries participated in the five-day meet organized by ESCAP, ADB and the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade of Uzbekistan. This year, the Forum focused on leveraging digitalization to enable sustainable supply chains in the region, including deep-dives on topics such as cross-border paperless trade, transport and greening the trade process.

“There is ample evidence that streamlining and digitalizing trade procedures is key to making trade not only more inclusive but also reducing its potential negative impact on the environment,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP in her opening remarks. She underscored the importance of collaboration, including through the dedicated UN treaty on cross-border paperless trade facilitation in Asia and the Pacific, which saw a doubling of ratifications since its entry into force in 2021.

The new report further draws attention to the increasingly important role of trade facilitation in ensuring more resilient and green supply chains. This includes improved customs procedures, enhanced cross-border data sharing and increased transparency which can help address bottlenecks, reduce border wait times and support sustainable sourcing.

Well-targeted trade facilitation can promote trade expansion and make supply chains more resilient and environmentally friendly. Leveraging digital innovations in particular can enhance the resilience and sustainability of supply chains, making them more adaptable to changing global trade dynamics and less vulnerable to potential disruptions,” said Yingming Yang, Vice President (South, Central and West Asia), Asian Development Bank.

The Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Forum is the leading regional platform for the exchange of good practices and knowledge on trade facilitation since its establishment in 2009. Held for the first time in Central Asia, this year’s Forum also featured dedicated sessions on the vital interconnection between trade and transport facilitation for landlocked developing countries.

“In recent years, we have made significant progress in liberalizing the economy and confidently entering world markets. We also aim to accelerate trade flows between countries and simplify licensing procedures by ensuring the integration of national licensing information systems with countries in the region and phasing out paper documents by recognizing their electronic versions,” said Teshabaev Khurram Fatihovich, Deputy Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade of Uzbekistan.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2024/asia-pacific-trade-facilitation-forum-2024

Read the Asia-Pacific Trade Facilitation Report 2024: https://www.unescap.org/kp/2024/asia-pacific-trade-facilitation-report-2024-promoting-sustainability-and-resilience-global

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New perspectives and approaches needed to boost affordable and long-term financing for public investments in Asia and the Pacific – UN report

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Wed, 03/04/2024 - 11:19
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G/11/2024
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Bangkok
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Governments of developing Asia-Pacific countries are in urgent need of affordable and long-term financing as many of them are being forced to choose between servicing debt in a high interest rate environment or investing in education, health and social protection for their people, according to the 2024 Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific released today by the United Nations regional commission.

New perspectives and approaches can solve this long-standing challenge. Donors should prioritize the development financing needs of recipient countries over political interests. Multilateral development banks need to improve their lending capacities, including through fresh capital injections. Credit rating agencies should adopt a long-term perspective and appreciate that public investments to realize shared development ambitions raises fiscal credibility over time. 

On the domestic front, the Survey recommends that stronger public revenue collection not only helps close the “tax gap” but also reduces fiscal risks and borrowing costs. Apart from digitalizing tax administration, policies to increase society’s willingness to pay taxes offer untapped potential. Similarly, more developed capital markets are needed to unleash sizeable domestic savings in the region and to increase the supply of long-term capital for investments in the Sustainable Development Goals. 

“Governments of developing countries across Asia and the Pacific are victims of an unjust, outdated and dysfunctional global financial architecture. They face fiscal constraints, rising borrowing rates with shorter loan maturity and heavy debt burdens,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Income inequality is also likely to widen in the region, as the value of national minimum wages, adjusted for inflation, has declined in several countries in recent years, further weakening the ability of lower-income groups to cope with weak job opportunities and high food prices.

“It is crucial to dispel the misconception that higher public debt levels inevitably lead to higher debt distress. In fact, strategic deployment of public debt to invest in the SDGs not only benefits people and the environment but also contributes to lowering public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product over the long term,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Average economic growth in developing countries of the Asia-Pacific region picked up from 3.5 per cent in 2022 to 4.8 per cent in 2023, although the rebound was concentrated in a few large countries. GDP growth in the region is projected to remain relatively steady, but below the pre-pandemic trend, at 4.4 per cent in both 2024 and 2025. Uncertain inflation and interest rate trends, and escalation of geopolitical tensions and trade fragmentation are examples of economic headwinds faced by economies of the region.

Published annually by ESCAP since 1947, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific is one of the longest, continuously running reports in the United Nations system, providing policymakers with valuable analyses on the current and emerging socio-economic issues and policy challenges to support inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

For the full report: https://unescap.org/kp/2024/survey2024

For multimedia assets: https://bit.ly/APSurvey2024Assets

 

 

For media enquiries or UN expert interview requests, please contact:

Kavita Sukanandan

Public Information Officer

Communications and Knowledge Management Section, ESCAP

E: [email protected]

 

 

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Trilateral partnership in North-East Asia spotlights digital innovation and just transition in achieving carbon neutrality goals

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Mon, 11/03/2024 - 09:42
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G/08/2024
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Seoul
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Digital innovation, along with fair and equitable transitions, play a crucial role in charting a path towards achieving carbon neutrality in the region. This was among the focus areas highlighted at the third Forum on Carbon Neutrality Goals of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, co-organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) and the Climate Action Team of the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General.

Held in-person for the first time, discussants at the forum also recognized the urgent need for collective and immediate action to confront the climate crisis, adopting innovative and inclusive strategies that align with the ambitious goals set by the global community.

"In light of the reaffirmed commitments by China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century and their leadership in elevating climate action in the Asia-Pacific region, it is very clear that our collective action is more vital than ever,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP in her opening remarks.

She emphasized, “As we embrace innovation, we must navigate its challenges wisely, ensuring that our approaches remain inclusive, practical as well as sustainable. As we integrate these principles into our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Long-Term Climate Strategies, it is imperative to consider the impacts on all sectors of society, particularly the most vulnerable.”

Building on this perspective, Lee Hee-sup, Secretary-General of the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat, amplified the importance of North-East Asia in this context. "North-East Asia is no exception in this global crisis. China, Japan and Korea have been active forerunners in addressing climate change and promoting cooperation to tackle this common threat," he stated. Lee added, "The theme of this year’s Forum – digital innovation for carbon neutrality – could not be timelier given the unique position of China, Japan and Korea in leading global climate action and their reaffirmation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050/2060."

Subsequently, Selwin Charles Hart, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Climate Action and Assistant Secretary-General for the Climate Action Team, contributed valuable insights into the practical steps needed for a sustainable future. He remarked, "At COP28, all governments agreed to transition away from fossil fuels to achieve net zero by 2050, underscoring the urgency of phasing out coal by 2030 in OECD countries and by 2040 for the rest of the world, along with reducing oil and gas production and use during this pivotal decade."

"A just transition demands urgent action to unlock the finance developing countries require to move beyond or leapfrog fossil fuel dependency, mitigate economic risks and stranded assets, while ensuring clean power accessibility for all, and ameliorating the effects on affected workers and communities," added Hart.

The keynote speaker, Liu Zhenmin, Special Envoy for Climate Change, China, capitalized on the crucial roles of the three countries’ efforts in climate change by highlighting that “China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are important drivers for both Asian and global economic development, as well as key participants in global climate governance. Achieving carbon neutrality/net-zero emissions is not only the common vision of us, but also a favorable opportunity for East Asia to achieve the green transformation in our economy.”

Liu further highlighted the importance of empowering green development by digitization, sharing “the future of global governance will be characterized by digitization and decarbonization.” Noting the hurdles of such digitization, he noted, “the digital-enabled green transition still faces challenges such as the lack of rules in governance, policy differences among countries, and the technological gaps. China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea could cooperate on how to address those challenges and bridge the gap.”

At the forum, experts from China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Mongolia, including policymakers at national and local levels, academics, and industry innovators emphasized the critical roles of digital innovation, cooperation, and just transition strategies. The forum illuminated the integration of global commitments into national policies, showcased digital innovations driving sectoral transitions, and explored cooperation avenues to amplify these efforts across the Asia-Pacific region. Highlighting best practices for a just transition, discussions revolved around inclusive policies and stakeholder engagement to ensure that the shift towards a greener economy benefits all sectors of society.

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Investing in women crucial to bridge gender gap in political leadership in Asia and the Pacific

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Thu, 07/03/2024 - 12:22
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G/07/2024
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Bangkok
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In a democratically decisive year, in which 1.3 billion women will have the right to vote in more than 60 countries, discussants at a regional UN event today underscored the need to strengthen national institutions and governance, reform the financial architecture and commit to new means of investing in gender equality.

Themed ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’, the annual International Women’s Day commemoration hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Women further drew attention to the point that when women have a seat at the table, policies are more gender-responsive and inclusive.

While significant strides in women’s education and health have been made across Asia and the Pacific in recent decades, progress towards the realization of gender equality and women’s economic empowerment continues to stagnate and even regress in certain areas.

Despite the increasing proportion of women in political leadership, with an average of 20.8 per cent of parliamentarians being women, Asia and the Pacific is still below the global average of 26.5 per cent and very far from achieving parity.

“We need to scale up investment to address the existing and widening disparities that prevent women and girls from realizing their full potential. And we need to take immediate action to provide robust policy support and innovative solutions,” said Lin Yang, Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP delivering the opening remarks on behalf of ESCAP Executive Secretary Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. 

Female labour force participation in the region has also been on the decline since 2005 and dropped to 43.6 per cent in 2023, making the rate of Asia and the Pacific below the world average.

“Investing in women is not merely a choice, but an imperative for sustainable development. Imagine a world where closing the gender employment gap could increase GDP per capita by 20 per cent across all regions. Picture the impact of investing in care services, not only reducing the burden of unpaid care work but also creating millions of jobs. This is not a distant dream, but an achievable reality,” said Sarah Knibbs, Deputy Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

Collaborative dialogues were encouraged at the one-day session, with participants from governments, the corporate sector, civil society and youth networks sharing best practices and formulating action plans to enhance women's empowerment. They further explored and proposed actionable strategies, including policy reforms, investment in education, support for female entrepreneurship, and improved healthcare and social services for women and girls.

The discussions set the stage for the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action on the occasion of its 30th anniversary later in November. This conference aims to accelerate actions toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing the critical importance of investing in women as a pathway to progress.

For further information: https://asiapacific.unwomen.org/en/stories/in-focus/2024/02/in-focus-international-womens-day-2024-in-asia-and-the-pacific

For media enquiries or spokesperson interview requests, please contact:

Kavita Sukanandan

Public Information Officer

Communications and Knowledge Management Section, ESCAP

E: [email protected]

 

Diego de la Rosa

Regional Communications Specialist

UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

E: [email protected]

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UN forum urges commitments be translated into concrete actions in Asia and the Pacific, ahead of global ‘Pact for the Future’

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Tue, 20/02/2024 - 12:49
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G/05/2024
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Bangkok
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The 11th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) opened today in Bangkok with a resounding call for countries to take urgent, accelerated actions supported by strong, sustained multilateral cooperation – or risk falling further behind on their aspirations for sustainable development in the wake of recent multiple crises.  

“No country or region can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals or navigate contemporary global challenges alone. International cooperation is essential, but the multilateral arrangements of today are simply not up to the job,” said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed in her keynote address. “Your leaders recognized this last September, supporting the UN Secretary-General’s call for an SDG stimulus and demanding that it be advanced without delay. And they also recognized the need for deeper change.”

Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from 20 to 23 February, the Forum brings together a cross-section of key development actors, including senior government and UN officials, the private sector and representatives of youth and civil society to share their experiences, and mobilize regional action and solutions.

“While the challenges ahead are formidable, the transition we envisage opens vast avenues of opportunity. We can herald an era of sustainable prosperity if we choose to act decisively and collaboratively,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. She further highlighted six entry points for transformative actions -- food systems; energy access and affordability; digital connectivity; education; jobs and social protection; and climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution -- to amplify efforts across multiple SDGs.

Paula Narvaéz, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said in video remarks, “The data tells us that at the current pace of implementation, the region will miss 90 per cent of the 118 measurable SDG targets by 2030.”

“Despite these trends, we know that there is energy and potential for the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to build on their proven innovation to scale up action. The region has lessons to share across all the SDGs, including disaster risk reduction policies, the uptake of digital technologies and trade and regional economic cooperation.”

Over the next four days, Forum participants will undertake an in-depth review of the region’s progress on Sustainable Development Goals 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 13 (Climate Action), 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). The outcomes will feed into the global High-Level Political Forum in July and the Summit of the Future, to be held in September in New York.

“Sustainable development is about society, the people and the planet. These fundamental elements need to be addressed in a balanced and inclusive manner. Business-as-usual can no longer be the way forward. Transformative mindsets and actions by all of us are urgently needed if we are to fulfill the promise of leaving no one behind,” said Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

“The need to improve the lives of grassroots communities in the region is now at a critical level…We must address the structural causes of persistent poverty and deepening inequalities, and recast development as a process organized and led by the people,” said Antonia Lilii of the First Pasefika Fono Network and representative of the Asia-Pacific People’s Forum.

Shilpa Lamichhane of Visible Impact and representing the APFSD Youth Forum, drew attention to the need for meaningful engagement of young people in development processes: “We call for a dedicated and sustainable civic space for young people at the local and national level, connected cohesively at the regional level where we sit at the table as active decisionmakers, as active national delegation members and decide on the sustainable development issues that matter to us.”

On the sidelines later today, ESCAP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will jointly launch the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership Report 2024, which this year is titled “People and Planet: Addressing the Interlinked Challenges of Climate Change, Poverty, and Hunger in Asia and the Pacific.

The report notes that more frequent and severe climate-related hazards will result in reduced agricultural and labour productivity, loss of livelihoods and human displacement. These strain socio-economic and environmental systems, and hinder efforts to promote food security and alleviate poverty, especially for poorer countries and vulnerable communities.

The report also draws attention to promising solutions for the region that reflect the interlinkages between climate, poverty and food insecurity. One example is food systems approaches that, designed properly, could support sustainable livelihoods for millions of farmers, ensure food security and reduce the environmental and climate impacts of food production.

Since 2014, the APFSD has provided an annual and inclusive platform for countries to share regional best practices and lessons learnt, support the presentation of their voluntary national reviews, and assess progress made towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/apfsd11

Watch the proceedings: www.youtube.com/unescap    

For multimedia assets: https://bit.ly/APFSD11Assets

 

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New UN report: Along with gender, where people live is a key factor in determining levels of poverty and inequality in Asia and the Pacific

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Thu, 15/02/2024 - 22:09
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G/04/2024
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Bangkok
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Progress on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains uneven and inadequate across various segments of the population and within the five subregions of Asia and the Pacific. According to a new report published by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) today, gender and location remain key factors in determining levels of poverty and inequality in the region.

“While additional efforts are required across the board, granular data emphasizes the urgency of addressing inequalities that impact marginalized groups, including women, girls, rural populations and the urban poor, who continue to find themselves locked out of education and employment opportunities,” underscored United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana.

“Equally, the sustained progress gap revealed between countries in special situations, especially Pacific small island developing States, and the rest of the region demands a concerted response from international, regional and national partners,” added Ms. Alisjahbana.

The Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2024 takes a closer look at groups that may be disadvantaged, focusing on how sex, urbanization, education level, age and income contribute to existing disparities and sometimes exacerbate them.

Despite overall progress in school enrolment rates, women and girls in the region continue to face considerable challenges when it comes to accessing education and employment opportunities. They have lower enrolment rates and struggle with literacy. Young women also encounter difficulties accessing labour markets, leading to higher rates of youth unemployment. Meanwhile, the challenges faced by men tend to be related to their health or personal safety. They suffer from higher rates of suicide, chronic diseases and road traffic deaths.

People living in rural areas face pronounced disadvantages, such as limited access to basic drinking water and sanitation facilities. Additionally, the lower availability of clean cooking fuels in these areas contributes to serious respiratory diseases. In general, urban areas exhibit better conditions, yet paradoxically, within these areas, the poorest boys and girls face significant hurdles in completing upper secondary education.

At its current pace, the report further highlights that the region will not achieve all 17 SDGs before 2062 – marking a significant 32-year delay. While positive steps have been taken toward eliminating poverty (Goal 1) and bolstering sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9) in the region, progress in other critical areas has been more modest. Efforts towards mitigating hunger (Goal 2), enhancing health and well-being (Goal 3), ensuring the availability of clean water and sanitation (Goal 6), expanding affordable and clean energy (Goal 7) and building sustainable cities and communities (Goal 11) have been less pronounced and require heightened attention.

On a more encouraging note, the report shares several laudable national success stories on supporting at-risk population groups. In the Philippines, dedicated research and analysis aimed at estimating the cost of supporting children living with a disability played a pivotal role in influencing recent legislation to provide a disability allowance, extending support to children with disabilities. Nationwide digital training programmes in Viet Nam have underscored the value of public-private partnerships in accelerating digital transformation and bridging the skills and employment gap for youth and migrant workers. Meanwhile, in North and Central Asia, national statistical systems in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have been upgraded to better support stateless populations.

An annual publication produced by ESCAP, the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report uses the latest data for global SDG indicators to determine where additional effort is needed in the region and where momentum for future progress is building.

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Decisive action needed to harness digital trade and investment for inclusive sustainable development, finds new UN report

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Wed, 06/12/2023 - 13:59
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G/27/2023
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Geneva
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Digital trade and investment are driving forces of the modern economy, and growth in the Asia-Pacific region has exceeded the global average, with the region now accounting for a quarter of the US$ 4 trillion trade in digitally deliverable products.

However, digital trade and investment remain highly uneven, according to the new Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report 2023/2024: Unleashing Digital Trade and Investment for Sustainable Development, produced by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). While six economies in the Asia-Pacific region are responsible for 85 per cent of the region’s digitally deliverable exports, least developed countries (LDCs) account for less than 1 per cent.

“This disparity underscores an urgent need for action,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “It is imperative that we work together to ensure that digital trade and investment are not just growth engines but also catalysts for inclusive and sustainable development.”

ESCAP research suggests that a 1 per cent increase in digital trade value is associated with a 0.8 percentage point rise in the growth rate of an economy's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. As these benefits are closely tied to Internet penetration rates, unlocking the full potential of digital trade urgently calls for bridging the “digital divide”.

“To achieve inclusive and sustainable outcomes from digitalization in the Asia-Pacific region, we need to work with countries at low levels of digital readiness to scale up their capacity to benefit from digital trade” said Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD. “Digital trade is not just about technology; it’s about people. It's about creating opportunities for everyone, regardless of their location or background.”

LDCs in the Asia-Pacific region have seen rapid growth in digital trade, but only 0.1 per cent of the region's digital FDI inflows reached them in 2021. In addition to risks of underinvestment in crucial infrastructure, these countries face a shortfall of skilled workers and regulatory complexities, which drive up operational costs. As a result, in spite of the growth, these countries accounted for less than 1 per cent of the region’s exports of digitally deliverable services in 2022.

“Addressing the social and environmental challenges arising from digital trade and investment is a complex matter, with diverse impacts that no single ministry or agency can manage in isolation,” according to UNIDO Director General Gerd Müller. “The Asia-Pacific Trade and Investment Report highlights how trade and investment policies can mitigate these challenges and enable the resulting benefits.”

In addition to levelling the playing field on Internet penetration, harnessing the potential of digital trade and investment as effective means for achieving sustainable development will also require proactive trade and investment policies and coordinated efforts, globally as well as regionally.

Read the full report: www.unescap.org/kp/APTIR2023  

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Leading executives meeting at UN forum point the way towards green, sustainable businesses in Asia and the Pacific

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Wed, 22/11/2023 - 15:03
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G/23/2023
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Hong Kong
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Top executives from around Asia and the Pacific meeting at a United Nations forum today called for the private sector to lead the way towards greener, more sustainable business practices.

The Asia-Pacific Business Forum (APBF), held 22 and 23 November in Hong Kong, opened discussions on how businesses are decarbonizing their operations and scaling up sustainability initiatives in the region. Participants are also expected to be introduced to the Asia-Pacific Green Deal for Business digital platform, and will hear and meet key decision makers, business leaders and emerging entrepreneurs committed to sustainable development across the region.

“The responsibility is now on the [business] community to not only set in place genuine and ambitious actions to meet their commitments but to multiply their efforts by bringing new businesses into the sustainability sphere,” Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), told the Forum, which is jointly organized by ESCAP and the ESCAP Sustainable Business Network (ESBN) with support from the Hong Kong Environment and Ecology Bureau.

ESBN Chair George Lam said in his welcome statement that with Asia and the Pacific being “the world's largest and fastest-growing economic region and largest source of greenhouse gas emissions…the region is also where the private sector should and can take the leading role in closely collaborating with governments and communities towards achieving the green transformation of the region.”

“Decarbonization and green transition involve a huge amount of investment. Estimates have indicated that Asia alone will need $66 trillion in the coming three decades. It is clear that governments cannot fund them on their own. The private sector’s resources must be effectively mobilized,” said Hong Kong Finance Secretary Paul Chan.  

“The HKSAR Government is committed to working with the business sector to realize green transformation in Hong Kong, and contribute to the regional decarbonization progress,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tse Chin-wan, Secretary for Environment and Ecology of Hong Kong, is scheduled to speak tomorrow regarding Hong Kong's quest for carbon neutrality before 2050.

The Forum, meeting under the theme “An Asia Pacific Green Deal for Business: Driving the Green Transformation,” is the only public-private sector regional dialogue and networking event that effectively and proactively engages businesses committed to sustainable development across the region, bringing together government officials, entrepreneurs, investors, private sector enterprises and academia from across the region. Additional participants from chambers of commerce, industry, associations and business networks are expected to raise greater awareness about ESBN and the Green Deal as well as in expanding the Network’s membership.

The annual Forum also allows participants to showcase pilot projects and innovation solutions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and climate goals through private sector initiatives and public-private partnerships.

 

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2023/asia-pacific-business-forum-2023

Watch the proceedings: www.youtube.com/unescap

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UN population and development review in Asia and the Pacific urges focus on individual rights and choices

Submitted by Suwat Chancharoensuk on Fri, 17/11/2023 - 15:41
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G/22/2023
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Bangkok
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Delegates from across Asia and the Pacific underscored the significance of population and development in a region home to more than 60 per cent of the world’s inhabitants, noting that decisions made by countries in this region shape the future of its 4.7 billion individuals as well as future generations across the globe.

This important message was reiterated during the Seventh Asian and Pacific Population Conference, which reviewed the implementation of the Asian and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development (2013) and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (1994). The three-day conference was jointly organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and brought together more than 400 government officials and representatives of civil society and youth groups.

“Beyond sheer numbers, this gathering reflects our shared commitment to addressing the population dynamics in our region. The collective resolve, constructive dialogues, and solution-oriented approach evident throughout the conference underscore our potential to make substantial contributions to ICPD30 and position ourselves for the post-2030 population and development agenda,” said Lin Yang, ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary, during the closing of the conference today.

The regional conference provided an opportunity to celebrate successes. Since the previous conference, convened ten years ago, Asia and the Pacific has seen increased life expectancy, along with a decline in maternal mortality, enhanced access to contraceptives and more girls going to school. These changes have occurred due to increased socioeconomic development, advancements in gender equality and people gaining greater agency to make decisions, including about their sexual and reproductive health.

Delegates acknowledged that the following megatrends are affecting economic, social and environmental outcomes: shifting population dynamics, the intensifying climate crisis, increasing migration, growing urbanization and rapid digital advancement. Moreover, they noted that inequality and social injustice persist. The message was clear: Forward-looking policies that capitalize on the demographic transition and place individual rights and choices at the centre are key to building sustainable and thriving societies and economies.

Additionally, partnerships across the region to exchange experiences, increase investments and accelerate progress and disaggregated data were noted as critical to achieving shared goals.

“Strengthened regional collaboration is required now more than ever. And that is exactly what we have seen over the last week. The energy, spirit and genuine interest that each of you have shown to work together to advance the quality of life of every individual that calls this region home is promising,” said UNFPA Deputy Executive Director (Programme) Diene Keita, bringing the conference to a close.

Facts and figures

  • Maternal mortality has declined by over 60 per cent in Asia and the Pacific since 2000.
  • While fewer women are dying giving birth, over 60,000 women still died in 2020.
  • In some countries, fewer than 25 per cent of women have access to and use modern contraception.
  • Since 1950, life expectancy at birth has increased by almost 30 years, from 43 years then to 75 years now.
  • The proportion of people aged 65 years or over is projected to almost double by 2050.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2023/seventh-asian-and-pacific-population-conference

Watch the proceedings: https://www.youtube.com/unescap

For multimedia assets: https://trello.com/b/cvdW1RQk/appc7

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Photo credit: ESCAP Photo /Caio F. Perim

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UN forum opens with a resounding call to reinforce 2030 Agenda in North and Central Asia

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Wed, 01/11/2023 - 21:33
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G/20/2023
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Almaty
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The Seventh North and Central Asia Multistakeholder Forum on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals opened today with high-level officials and representatives from various stakeholder groups reaffirming their continued resolve and shared commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Delegates further underscored the need to accelerate efforts to tackle the multiple crises faced in North and Central Asia. Recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be hampered by global geopolitical conflict and its impact on inflation, food security and energy. In addition, the effects of tighter monetary policy in developed countries in response to higher inflation are posing significant challenges to many developing economies, raising the likelihood of financial distress and exposing pre-existing vulnerabilities.

“We need to accelerate actions for eradicating poverty in all forms and dimensions, and to continue expanding and improving employment opportunities, social protection, and provision of essential services,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) opening the forum. She further underscored the need to align sectoral, local, national and international plans and policies with targets to accelerate decarbonization as well as advance climate justice and fairness.

North and Central Asia is currently not on track to achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. While there has been positive progress on Goal 1 (No Poverty) and (Goal 16) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions (Goal 16) in the subregion, regressing trends have also been observed for several Goals related to Goal 13 (Climate Action).

“Global crises, including food and energy, COVID-19, climate change and geopolitical uncertainty, have seriously affected the socio-economic development of countries, and this has a significant impact on the implementation of the SDGs. It is encouraging that through common efforts we are gradually making up for lost economic growth rates. And the common goal is to jointly move forward in achieving the SDGs and consolidate the achieved results,” said H. E. Daniyar Amangeldiev, Minister of Economy and Commerce of the Kyrgyz Republic.

“It is critically important for us to intensify regional cooperation based on the principles of good neighbourliness, partnership and mutual benefit. Absolutely all participants – public, private, civil and international – have a role to play in ensuring that the necessary measures are taken to achieve sustainable development. Therefore, regional partnership between countries is an integral element of cooperation, including in the implementation of the sustainable development agenda,” said H. E. Abzal Abdikarimov, Vice-Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan.

Gwi Yeop Son, Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, United Nations Development Coordination Office shared, “Emphasizing the importance of holistic partnerships, we must ensure that our synergies foster innovative solutions, from addressing poverty and hunger to championing climate advocacy and promoting social equity. By channeling the strengths of every stakeholder, we aim to foster a region that is inclusive, resilient, and sustainable.”

More than 100 delegates from nine countries in North and Central Asia representing governments and the public sector, civil society, the private sector, academic institutions and international organizations are taking part in the Forum to share their views and provide recommendations on how to accelerate the progress towards Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions), and Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

During the thematic sessions over the next two days, participants are expected to develop concrete recommendations on, among others, emerging challenges on food security in North and Central Asia, with focus on the ongoing energy-food-finance crisis, measures to accelerate in-country and regional actions for climate mitigation and adaption and promoting stakeholder engagement through participatory decision-making with focus on vulnerable groups.

The meeting is part of a series of five subregional forums which aim to inform, empower and support Asia-Pacific countries in their efforts to achieve the 17 SDGs and their targets by identifying subregional trends, as well as sharing best practices and lessons learned to take forward. Inputs from the subregional forums will also feed into the 11th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and global UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2024.

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