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ASEAN pushes for inclusive business models for sustainable growth

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Thu, 24/08/2023 - 11:55
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G/13/2023
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Bali
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The Sixth ASEAN Inclusive Business Summit, hosted by Indonesia, emphasised the importance of establishing a conducive environment for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and for large businesses to adopt inclusive business (IB) models that contribute to inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

With the theme "Incentivising Businesses for Inclusive Growth," the summit focused on the significance of multi-stakeholder partnerships in building an IB ecosystem in ASEAN through enabling policies, from accreditation, coaching, to innovative financing schemes.

Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs of the Republic of Indonesia Teten Masduki appreciated ASEAN’s efforts in strengthening regional commitment to inclusive business through the convening of  the first High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Inclusive Business. He stated, "The High-Level Ministerial Meeting on Inclusive Business is a historic event for ASEAN as it brings together ministers dealing with MSMEs to exchange views and reaffirm our commitment to driving inclusive and sustainable business practices in ASEAN."

During the summit, ASEAN scaled up its commitment to IB by hosting the inaugural High-Level Ministerial Meeting for Ministers responsible for MSME development in ASEAN Member States (AMS). At this meeting, AMS exchanged good practices to promote the adoption of IB models and adopted the “Declaration on Promoting Inclusive Business Models : Empowering Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises for Equitable Growth”.

Through the statement, AMS recognised the important role MSMEs play in driving economic growth, fostering innovation, generating employment, and reducing poverty as well as the contribution of large businesses in driving productivity and stimulating income-generation activities. They also acknowledged the potential of the IB model in achieving economic, commercial, and social objectives.

Guiding this high-level commitment is the Plan of Action for the Promotion of Inclusive Business in ASEAN (2023-2027), which was endorsed by the ASEAN Economic Ministers during the 55th  ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting on 17 August in Semarang, Indonesia.

The Plan of Action will focus on four priority areas, namely, strengthening policy advisory support for AMS to develop and adopt policies and strategies to promote IB; supporting businesses in developing and integrating inclusive and sustainable business models through coaching services to develop IB models and linking MSMEs to larger companies; establishment of financial vehicles to pilot innovative financing instruments to provide access to finance for inclusive businesses; and establishing an ASEAN IB knowledge hub to generate awareness and share information and resources on IB.

Dr Le Quang Lan, Director of Market Integration of the ASEAN Secretariat, on behalf of the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr Kao Kim Hourn, welcomed the timely endorsement of the Plan of Action as ASEAN prepares for the transformative forces that are reshaping the global economic landscape. He further offered recommendations vis-à-vis the implementation of the Plan of Action, to promote inclusivity in ASEAN’s approach in addressing its key priorities, namely, digitalisation, green economy and supply chain resiliency.

In collaboration with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, ASEAN presented the ASEAN Inclusive Business Awards to ten businesses to showcase exemplary inclusive business models from businesses across all the AMS.

 “Inclusive businesses are different from business-as-usual as they put people and planet alongside profit, and are therefore, a critical accelerator if we are to get back on track on the SDGs. ESCAP is committed to move inclusive businesses from the margins to the mainstream,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

“The ASEAN Region – with its ambitious development agenda, integration in global value chains, and strong economic fundamentals – will benefit from inclusive business models,” said OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann. “The OECD continues to provide policy analysis and advice on best practices to support inclusive businesses and policymakers in ASEAN in putting these tools into practice. Looking ahead, the OECD stands ready to build further on our strong cooperation and support the development of an ASEAN Knowledge Hub to advance the Plan of Action.”

On the importance of businesses and sustainable development, Dio Herdiawan Tobing, Head of Public Policy for Asia at the World Benchmarking Alliance, appreciated ASEAN for prioritising businesses as drivers of inclusive and sustainable growth. He stated, "ASEAN has established a compelling demonstration of how corporate accountability measures can effectively contribute to transformative changes for sustainable development."

Indonesia, as the ASEAN Chair for 2023, hosted the summit, which was co-organised by the Ministry of Cooperatives of SMEs in Indonesia, ESCAP, OECD, and ASEAN Secretariat, and supported by the World Benchmarking Alliance and Oxfam.

The summit welcomed government and private sector representatives from ASEAN and beyond, as well as investors and development organisations. The summit is an annual activity of the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, the sectoral body under the ASEAN Economic Community pillar responsible for coordinating MSME development in the region, contributing to the implementation of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-2025. Incoming ASEAN chair Lao PDR announced that the Seventh ASEAN IB Summit will be organised in 2024.

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High-level meeting to review a decade of progress and accelerate sustainable development for Europe and Asia’s Landlocked Developing Countries opens in Bangkok

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Thu, 24/08/2023 - 09:44
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G/12/2023
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Bangkok
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A high-level meeting to review the progress of the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries (VPoA) in Europe and Asia kicks off today in Bangkok.

Over the course of two days, senior UN and government officials, representatives from transit countries, development system partners, international financial institutions and the private sector will gather to assess the progress made by Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) in the region over the past decade and propose new partnerships and innovative solutions to accelerate their path to development.

Asia and Europe are home to 14 LLDCs that grapple with a series of development challenges owing to their lack of direct territorial access to the sea. Remoteness from major markets and limited infrastructure increase their transportation costs, hindering their full participation in international trade and posing significant economic challenges, against the backdrop of ongoing global macroeconomic tensions and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Europe and Asia’s landlocked developing countries are locked out from international trade, connectivity, and consequently, economic development. Today’s meeting marks a decisive effort to address the unique challenges that these countries face,” said Rabab Fatima, United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States, and Secretary-General for the Third UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries. “The meeting will also provide an opportunity to evaluate progress and identify actions to expedite the sustainable development of Europe and Asia's LLDCs and ensure they are not left behind," she added.

“Many of the challenges faced by LLDCs can be mitigated, if not addressed, through dialogue and cooperation,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). She added, “A shared understanding of transit policy issues, infrastructure development, international trade and trade facilitation, regional integration and cooperation and structural economic transformation all starts with dialogue. Such dialogues then form the foundation for action.”

For her part, Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) highlighted the high trade costs faced by Landlocked Developing Countries compared to their coastal counterparts, “trade costs in Landlocked Developing Countries are 1.4 times higher than in coastal developing countries. I encourage all LLDCs in the Euro-Asian region to continue efforts to harness UN transport conventions and trade facilitation tools, which can significantly lower costs, open new economic opportunities and boost connectivity as drivers for sustainable development.”

The Euro-Asia regional review meeting is the final of three regional review meetings leading up to the Third UN Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries, scheduled for Kigali, Rwanda, in 2024. The first regional meeting for African LLDCs was held in Gaborone, Botswana, in May, and the second meeting for Latin America LLDCs was held in Asuncion, Paraguay, in July.

The meeting in Bangkok will culminate in an outcome document with concrete action-oriented recommendations that will provide invaluable inputs to the preparatory process of the Third United Nations Conference on LLDCs.  

For more information, visit the conference website or contact Sithembile Hillary Siziba, Public Information Officer, Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States: [email protected] 

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A disaster emergency is underway in Asia and the Pacific as risks outpace resilience, warns new UN study

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Tue, 25/07/2023 - 11:19
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G/11/2023
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Bangkok
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The Asia-Pacific region has a narrow window to increase its resilience and protect its hard-won development gains from the socioeconomic impacts of climate change, according to the latest report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). In the absence of immediate action, temperature rises of 1.5°C and 2°C will cause disaster risk to outpace resilience beyond the limits of feasible adaptation and imperil sustainable development.

Climate change-induced disasters pose an increasingly serious threat to the Asia-Pacific region and climate disaster-related losses are already enormous. In 2022 alone, over 140 disasters struck the region, leading to over 7,500 deaths, affecting over 64 million people and causing economic damage estimated at US$57 billion.

However, the consequences of inaction are greater. The Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2023 projects disaster-related deaths and economic impacts to amount to annual losses nearing $1 trillion or 3 per cent of regional GDP under a scenario of 2°C warming.

The report further shows that the most vulnerable subregions, such as the Pacific small island developing States, will experience heightened inequality and devastation in the agriculture and energy sectors, compromising food and energy security.

“As temperatures continue to rise, new disaster hotspots are emerging, and existing ones are intensifying. A disaster emergency is underway, and we must fundamentally transform our approach to building resilience,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

Increased investments in multi-hazard early warning systems as well as expanding coverage, particularly in least developed countries, is essential in reducing fatalities. Early warning systems can also decrease disaster losses by up to 60 per cent, offering a remarkable tenfold return on investment.

The study was launched today at the opening of the eighth session of the ESCAP Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction, which convenes senior government officials and experts over the next three days to explore pragmatic solution-oriented efforts to strengthen resilience across the region.

“We are at a critical juncture in our efforts to achieve sustainable development. Climate-induced disasters and other disasters affect countries and communities. Tackling this global threat requires concerted efforts to speed up transformative actions across all sectors,” underscored H.E. Police Lieutenant General Nadhapit Snidvongs, Vice Minister of Interior, Thailand in his keynote. 

This year’s Committee will further focus on critical actions such as targeted transformative adaptation which enables vulnerable households to protect their assets and livelihoods in hazard risk hotspots. The Committee is also expected to endorse a regional strategy to achieve early warning for all by 2027.

The proposed regional strategy builds on the global Executive Action Plan on Early Warnings for All, 2023–2027, launched by the UN Secretary General last year and aims to foster transboundary synergies between countries in Asia and the Pacific, the world’s most disaster-prone region.

For more information: https://unescap.org/events/2023/committee-disaster-risk-reduction-eighth-session-25-27-july-2023

For the full Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2023: https://www.unescap.org/kp/2023/seizing-moment-targeting-transformative-disaster-risk-resilience

Watch event proceedings: www.youtube.com/unescap

Listen to the Executive Secretary's podcast: https://news.un.org/en/audio/2023/07/1139067

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New UN survey highlights progress in global trade facilitation despite polycrisis disruptions

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Wed, 05/07/2023 - 08:07
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G/10/2023
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Bangkok
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Persisting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical turbulence and high inflation continue to challenge international trade. Despite these global disruptions, countries are continuing to move towards a seamless and efficient trading environment by simplifying and digitalizing formalities in international trading.

According to the fifth United Nations Global Survey on Digital and Sustainable Trade Facilitation covering 161 countries, progress has been observed in more efficient trade facilitation with the overall implementation rate of general and digital trade facilitation measures increasing by more than six percentage points between 2021 and 2023. The global average implementation rate currently stands at 68.7 per cent. The highest implementation rate is seen in developed economies (85.3 per cent), followed by countries in South-East and East Asia (76.6 per cent). Pacific Islands have the lowest implementation rate (42.3 per cent).

In the Asia-Pacific region, implementation increased by about three percentage points since 2021, with the highest rates observed in Australia and New Zealand and East and North-East Asia. North and Central Asia and the Pacific Island Developing Economies recorded the most progress over the last two years. Measures included in the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement continue to be largely implemented and paperless trade facilitation measures improved the most over the period. Even though implementation of measures to achieve cross-border paperless trade remains much lower than that of others, there have been notable improvements in this area, including the development of laws and regulations for electronic transactions and electronic exchange of Sanitary & Phytosanitary Certificates. Such progress highlights the region's willingness to modernize trade processes, foster efficiency and promote international collaboration.

Crucial to the progress made globally were regional and subregional initiatives such as the Framework Agreement on Facilitation of Cross-border Paperless Trade in Asia and the Pacific (CPTA), the expansion of the ASEAN Single Window Agreement, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. These initiatives could further support countries in gradually moving to less paper and then to paperless and cross-border paperless trade by providing a dedicated, inclusive and capacity-building intergovernmental platform.

Conversely, the 2023 Survey also highlighted the insufficient adoption of sustainable trade facilitation measures and inadequate support for vulnerable groups, including the agricultural sector, Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and women traders.

“More concerted international collaboration is necessary. I call upon countries to actively implement sustainable trade measures highlighted in the Survey to foster inclusive and sustainable trade and development,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

The Survey was jointly conducted by the Economic Commission for Africa, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the Economic Commission for Europe, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The initiative supports the implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, as well as emerging regional and global initiatives on paperless trade or e-trade, such as the recent CPTA. The Survey also recommends cutting-edge paperless and cross-border trade facilitation measures, as well as those supporting more inclusive and sustainable trade, targeted at supporting sectors and groups with special needs.

The results of the Survey, including detailed data analysis, can be found at https://www.untfsurvey.org/.

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Asia-Pacific countries adopt 10 UN resolutions reaffirming commitments to protect the planet and its people

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Fri, 19/05/2023 - 10:26
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G/09/2023
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Bangkok
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Governments from across Asia and the Pacific today endorsed a UN resolution to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. They re-committed to immediately curb greenhouse gas emissions – of which the region accounts for over half of the global emissions.

“The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade; in this context, the resolution demonstrates the commitment by countries in the region to take faster and bolder climate action to ensure that their climate goals are met,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the closing.

The resolution further recommends countries to promote clean energy technologies, regional power system connectivity, low-emission mobility, early warning systems and strengthened use of climate change-related statistics as part of crucial mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Nine other resolutions aimed at strengthening regional action and partnerships towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were also adopted at the 79th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), which was held in Bangkok from 15 to 19 May and drew over 1,000 representatives from governments and stakeholder groups.  

Among others, the resolutions underscored commitments towards environmental protection; mitigating and minimizing the consequences of disasters in the water basin of the Aral Sea; supporting countries in special situations; promoting digital cooperation and inclusion; advancing the use of space applications; promoting disability-inclusive development; better understanding of the linkages between climate and ocean; and sustainable urban development.

Recognizing the transformative role of cities at the frontline of almost all global development and climate agendas, countries emphasized the positive contributions of national, subnational and local governments. They encouraged stakeholders to work together closely to develop impactful urban initiatives in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Several of the resolutions at this year’s Commission also acknowledged the unique challenges of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States in the region, who find themselves increasingly vulnerable amidst the impacts of climate change, geopolitical tensions, economic headwinds and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report released to coincide with the meeting revealed that despite the clear benefits of connectivity in transport, energy and ICT, these countries in special situations lag far behind what other countries in the region have managed to achieve.

On the sidelines of the 79th Commission session, ESCAP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat signed a memorandum of understanding to complement each other’s strategic work on the SDGs, climate action and resilient development, social inclusion and equity, and regional economic and trade cooperation opportunities in the Pacific.

For further information on CS79: https://www.unescap.org/events/commission79

Watch the CS79 proceedings: www.youtube.com/unescap  

For CS79 multimedia assets: https://trello.com/b/05hTKOby/cs79

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Leaders gather at annual UN policy forum to tackle Asia and the Pacific’s most daunting threat – climate change

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Mon, 15/05/2023 - 12:42
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G/08/2023
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Bangkok
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The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) opened its 79th session in Bangkok today, with global and regional leaders calling for urgent action to combat climate change and its dire impacts.

They urged countries in the region to meet their nationally determined contributions, intensify development of climate-sensitive technology, nurture policy environments supporting both industrial diversification and low-emission transport, as well as increase investments in renewable energy infrastructure.

“Asia and the Pacific can set the pace of climate action in the decades to come. Most countries in the region have already pledged carbon neutrality goals towards mid-century. But we need to accelerate action, with steep reductions in emissions within the next few years,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his opening message.

Climate change poses major challenges to all strands of sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. The region includes 13 of the 30 countries most vulnerable to climate impacts and without concerted action, it could see an additional 7.5 million people fall into poverty by 2030.

“Each one of us and every aspect of our world is being affected. Those who are most exposed and have the fewest resources to respond to climate change, however, are the most vulnerable,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. She added that the integrated nature of climate change calls for holistic, multisectoral solutions as well as targeted support.

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ʻUtoikamanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Tourism of Tonga who was elected Chair of the 79th session, underscored that inclusive intergovernmental platforms such as ESCAP are a lifeline for the Pacific. “While the Pacific small island developing States contribute less than 0.03 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, they are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this regard, ESCAP is an important platform to advocate for regional and global action to achieve their climate goals.”

“The IPCC clearly demonstrates that the lower the emissions in 2030, the lower the challenge in limiting global warming to 1.5°C after 2030. Integrated planning, coherent policies, and economic stimulus investments designed to meet both the Sustainable Development Goals and climate challenges can generate significant co-benefits and speed up progress,” said Lachezara Stoeva, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

“We used to say that the choices we make will define the future for the generations after us. Now we have to say that the choices we make will decide whether there will be a future for the generations after us,” shared Csaba Kőrösi, President of the United Nations General Assembly. He added, “We are not lacking in ideas and plans; it is high time we realized them.”

Heads of State and Government from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Palau, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands also addressed the opening session. While voicing grave concerns about the complexities and growing threats of climate change on sustainable development, they expressed their optimism for shared solidarity and cooperation towards building a resilient, sustainable and prosperous future for all.

More than 880 participants from 61 member States, associate members and permanent observers as well as representatives from academia, international organizations, youth, business and civil society are attending the session this week.

It is expected to culminate on Friday with the adoption of ten resolutions covering, among others, recommendations for accelerated climate action, ocean protection, environmental protection, disaster risk reduction, supporting countries in special situations, promoting digital cooperation and inclusion, the use of space applications for sustainable development, advancing sustainable urban development and launching a new decade of persons with disabilities.

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For further information on CS79: https://www.unescap.org/events/commission79

For further information on the theme study: https://www.unescap.org/news/asia-and-pacific-unprepared-face-climate-induced-catastrophes-warns-new-un-study

Watch the CS79 proceedings live: www.youtube.com/unescap  

For CS79 multimedia assets: https://trello.com/b/05hTKOby/cs79

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Asia and the Pacific unprepared to face climate-induced catastrophes, warns new UN study

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Mon, 08/05/2023 - 15:20
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G/07/2023
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Bangkok
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Most countries in Asia and the Pacific are insufficiently prepared to face extreme weather events and natural disasters, which are growing in intensity and frequency due in part to climate change, according to a  new study by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Findings in the  Race to Net Zero: Accelerating Climate Action in Asia and the Pacific report reveal that countries in the region lack the sizeable financial means to support adaptation and mitigation efforts and the data necessary to inform climate action.  

Over the past 60 years, temperatures in Asia and the Pacific have increased faster than the global mean. Six of the top 10 countries most affected by disasters are in the region, where food systems are disrupted, economies damaged, and societies undermined.

The report further underscores that while the region suffers the worst consequences of climate change, it is also a key perpetrator; accounting for over half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This share is increasing as populations grow and economies continue to be powered by fossil fuels.

If the urgency is clear, the context is challenging. “Measures to put the economies of Asia and the Pacific on a low-carbon pathway, and adapt and become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, must be front and center of the region’s post-pandemic recovery,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, while acknowledging that governments in the region are joining the race to net zero under challenging circumstances from the current polycrisis.

ESCAP notes that the sum of countries’ actions in nationally determined contributions to cut emissions and adapt to climate change falls short of the required ambition under the Paris Agreement. In fact, a 16 per cent increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 2010 levels is forecast, a world away from the 45 per cent reductions needed to keep warming within 1.5°C. Without decisive action, global warming will remain a central driver of poverty and inequality in the region – with disastrous consequences across the continent and existential ones in Pacific small island developing States.

The ESCAP study sets out the transformations needed in three key sectors – energy, low-carbon mobility and logistics, and international trade and investment. It further provides concrete proposals on how these major shifts can be financed and how better to measure challenges and progress towards a net-zero carbon future in support of sustainable development.

ESCAP will also convene its 79th Commission session in Bangkok from 15 to 19 May, bringing together Heads of State and Government, ministers, senior officials, youth and other key stakeholders to explore bold policy options, climate-smart solutions and foster ambitious climate action towards net-zero pathways.

For further information on CS79, visit: https://www.unescap.org/events/commission79

For multimedia assets: https://trello.com/b/05hTKOby/cs79

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New UN report urges a significant shift in thinking about leveraging public debt for development gains

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Tue, 04/04/2023 - 15:54
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G/06/2023
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Bangkok
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While the average government debt level in the Asia-Pacific region is at an 18-year high, this is not necessarily bad news, and it is time for a bold shift in thinking about public debt sustainability, according to the 2023 edition of the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific.

Published today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Survey argues that current policy debates around public debt sustainability do not sufficiently account for the long-term positive socioeconomic and environmental impact of public investments. This type of spending lays sound foundations for inclusive, resilient and sustainable prosperity.

“A higher debt level does not necessarily mean a higher risk of debt distress,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. “Nor is higher debt necessarily detrimental to economic growth. Rather, deploying public debt as an investment in people and the planet offers sizeable medium- and long-term economic, social and environmental returns.”

The current high levels of government debt are largely a result of the unprecedented expenditure to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic contraction. Public debt distress is expected to worsen amid the global economic slowdown, record high inflation and rising interest rates, and uncertainty induced by the war in Ukraine. This implies that the scale of fiscal responses available for investing in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and for climate action is likely to remain limited. To effectively pursue sustainable development under current difficult economic conditions, a reconsideration of the public debt-development nexus is needed.

The Survey proposes an innovative approach to public debt sustainability analysis that augments the conventional short- to medium-term methodologies of international financial institutions and credit rating agencies. This approach considers a country’s SDG financing needs and strategies along with the Governments’ structural development policies. Using different policy scenarios, the analyses show that public debt goes down over the long term when the socioeconomic and environmental benefits of public investments are incorporated.

On the back of these findings, the Survey argues that it is time for international financial institutions and credit rating agencies to consider the positive long-term economic, social and environmental outcomes of investing in the SDGs in their assessments of public debt sustainability, also considering whether such spending would boost economic productivity. Debt relief should be viewed as helping to support the fiscal outlook, rather than as a sign of an upcoming debt default.

Effective public debt management reduces fiscal risks and borrowing costs, and there are several examples of good public debt management practices in the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time, countries with high debt distress levels may need pre-emptive, swift and adequate sovereign debt restructuring, while efforts towards common international debt resolution mechanisms and restructuring frameworks also need to be accelerated.

Produced annually since 1947, the Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific is the oldest United Nations report on the region’s development progress. The Survey provides analyses to guide policy discussion on current and emerging socioeconomic issues and policy challenges to support inclusive and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Access the full report: https://www.unescap.org/kp/2023/economic-and-social-survey-asia-and-pacific-2023-rethinking-public-debt-sustainable

Access related multimedia assets, including press release in Chinese, Russian and Thai: https://bit.ly/APSurvey2023-assets

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Regional UN forum urges countries to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals amidst compounding crises

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Mon, 27/03/2023 - 14:44
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G/05/2023
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Bangkok
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Never before have development gains in Asia and the Pacific been at such risk of being swept away by overlapping and intensifying crises. The Tenth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) opened today in Bangkok with a resounding call for countries to make radical changes at the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda or risk evaporating their slim chances of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).   

Organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) from 27 to 30 March, the Forum brings together a cross-section of key development actors, including senior government and UN officials, the private sector, youth and civil society representatives to share their experiences and mobilize regional action to rescue the SDGs.

“The data reveals a story that vulnerable people across the world know only too well: we are badly off track. There is reason for alarm – but I would like to emphasize that there is also reason for hope. Delivering on the promise of the SDGs is possible – and essential,” said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed in her opening address.

“It is the lack of progress on the SDGs that left us with punishing consequences of a riskier world,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. She added, “To emerge from these depths, we simply have to go to where it all started: Protecting our people, especially those furthest behind, ensuring gender equality, shock-proofing our economies, and preserving our planet. These all lie at the very core of the 2030 Agenda.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, the cost-of-living crisis has deprived 400 million people of safe and nutritious food. Climate related catastrophes, coupled with biodiversity loss and pollution are taking lives and causing immense hardship and suffering. Food and energy prices have left governments struggling to protect their people. Fiscal space is constrained; borrowing costs are sky-high and rising; debt burdens are unsustainable.

Over the next four days, the APFSD will also undertake an in-depth review of the region’s progress on Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation); Goal 7 (Affordable and clean energy); Goal 9 (Industry. innovation, and infrastructure); Goal 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals). Recommendations from the regional Forum will feed into the global High-Level Political Forum and SDG Summit later this year.

President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Lachezara Stoeva urged Forum participants to be unfaltering in their assessment on the state of the SDGs in the region. “Policymakers need frank data and evidence-based diagnosis of the situation in order to develop impactful policies.”

“Halfway through the 2030 Agenda, we are still very far from our goals as the systemic barrier of giving priority to profit over people’s rights and welfare is still at play. How can we accelerate development if its drivers are left behind?” underscored Kai Ra Cabaron from the National Alliance of the Urban Poor in the Philippines (KADAMAY), representing the civil society. 

Youth representative Prim Rajasurang Wongkrasaemongkol called for meaningful participation and inclusion at all levels of the decision-making process. “Give us (youth) the opportunities, platforms and resources for meaningful engagement to foster leadership, innovation and critical thinking skills.”

Also speaking at the opening were President of French Polynesia Édouard Fritch, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand Don Pramudwinai, and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Li Junhua.

At the forum, ESCAP, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched the latest edition of the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership Report: Delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals through Solutions at the Energy, Food and Finance Nexus. The report points to clear solutions for confronting the multiple crises and regaining ground on the SDGs, from transforming agriculture towards climate resilience to accelerating a just energy transition and increasing the fiscal space and public investment towards the SDGs.   

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 on APFSD, visit: https://www.unescap.org/events/apfsd10

For multimedia assets: https://bit.ly/APFSD10assets

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UN lauds Asia-Pacific countries for championing sustainability, but warns that 2030 goalpost remains decades out of reach

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Tue, 21/03/2023 - 11:06
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G/04/2023
Origin Location
Bangkok
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ESCAP News
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Key findings snapshot:

  • At the midpoint towards the 2030 target year, the Asia-Pacific region has reached only 14.4 per cent progress needed to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Based on current trends, the region will take another 42 years to reach the goalpost.
  • The region will miss 90 per cent of the 118 measurable SDG targets by 2030 unless efforts are multiplied.
  • The strongest progress in the region has been made on affordable and clean energy (Goal 7) and industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9). Climate change (Goal 13),
    however, continues to regress and must be given priority to reverse negative trends.
  • Although data availability for the SDGs has doubled since 2017, data remain insufficient for 51 out of 169 targets.

                                                                                                                 __________________________________________

 

The United Nations has lauded countries in the Asia-Pacific region for demonstrating an ongoing commitment to sustainable development despite facing unprecedented recent challenges such as intensifying climate change, health crises and geopolitical conflicts.

The Asia and the Pacific Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report 2023 issued today by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) spotlights several heartening evidence-based national initiatives such as reducing child marriages in India, increasing the rate of births attended by skilled personnel in Timor-Leste, improving the processing of identity documents for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and a Clean Air Plan to tackle air pollution in Cambodia.

However, this year’s report also warns that at the midpoint mark, the region has only achieved 14.4 per cent of progress needed. At the current pace, Asia and the Pacific will miss 90 per cent of the 118 measurable SDG targets by 2030 unless efforts are multiplied.

“While there are impressive national accomplishments across the 17 Goals, none of the countries in the region are on track to reach them and overall achievement is much lower than anticipated for the midpoint,” underscored Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

She added, “In developed and developing countries alike, persistent data gaps remain. Governments must renew their commitments to producing relevant, timely, granular, high-quality information to monitor and review the march towards the SDGs.”

In 2022, the areas of greatest progress for the Asia-Pacific region were affordable and clean energy (Goal 7) and industry, innovation and infrastructure (Goal 9). Progress towards achieving Goal 7 was largely driven by achievements in access to electricity and international support for clean and renewable energy, while there was little progress in the share of renewable energy consumption. Progress towards achieving Goal 9 was driven by successes in mobile network coverage and total official flows for infrastructure development in the least developed countries. 

However, progress towards climate action (Goal 13) is slipping away. The region is both a victim of the impact of climate change and a perpetrator of climate change, with a responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Countries are not on track to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The region is also regressing on Goal 13 owing to the increase in deaths and missing persons attributed to disasters.

While there is enough data for countries to act with greater ambition on the implementation of the SDGs, data availability for evidence-based follow-up and review remains a significant hurdle in implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The report notes significant data gaps in Goal 5 (gender equality), Goal 14 (life below water) and Goal 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), each with less than 30 per cent sufficient data available.

An annual flagship publication, in partnership with seven other UN agencies, the Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2023 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. This year’s report provides further analysis on COVID-19 impacts on sustainable development, the progress in countries with special situations as well as recommendations to bridge data gaps.

Access the full report: https://bit.ly/AP-SDGProgress2023

Access multimedia assets: https://bit.ly/SDGProgressAssets

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