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Delivered by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

10 October 2023

ESCAP ES

Excellency, Dr. Min Bahadur Shrestha, Vice Chair of the National Planning Commission of Nepal,

Mr. Chandra Prasad Dhakal, President of the Federation of Nepali Chambers of Commerce and Industry,

Ms. Hanaa Fikry Ahmed Singer, UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal,

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to express my most sincere appreciation to the National Planning Commission of the Government of Nepal for co-hosting this Forum with ESCAP in collaboration with the UN Resident Coordinator and the Federation of Nepali Chambers of Commerce.

We have just come out of the SDG Summit last month, during which Member States reaffirmed their continued resolve and shared commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

This is important as without reaffirmed commitment and accelerated efforts, we will fail to achieve the 17 Goals in the seven years that remain.

Accelerated efforts are needed to tackle the polycrisis that we continue to face, with the recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic being hampered by the war in Ukraine, its impact on inflation, food security and energy, and the resulting effects of tighter monetary policy in developed countries, which is heightening the likelihood of financial distress and exposing pre-existing vulnerabilities.

Several important initiatives are taking place that will help us reach the goals in time: 

Six transformative entry points that can have catalytic and multiplier effects across the SDGs have been identified. It is important that we utilize these entry points, which comprise food systems, energy access and affordability, digital connectivity, education, jobs and social protection, and climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, as an organizing frame to spotlight investment pathways to accelerate SDG progress.

The United Nations Secretary-General has also presented the Climate Action Accelerated Agenda, which spells out the actions needed from government, business and finance leaders. We must take this seriously if we wish to accelerate efforts to deeply cut emissions and deliver climate justice to protect lives and livelihoods.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates

As you know, during this Forum, we will examine more closely Goal 1 (no poverty), Goal 2 (zero hunger), Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

These Goals will be under review at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development next February in the lead up to the High-Level Political Forum in July 2024.

These goals are particularly relevant to this region. A region that is challenged by persistent poverty and that has been particularly affected by climate-induced disasters, as the examples of recent floods in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and others have demonstrated.

The effects of these disasters, but also of geopolitical tensions and political crisis within the region and beyond, continue to pose headwinds to the recovery.

While several countries are gradually recovering from the pandemic and are seeing a stabilized macroeconomic situation, the need to secure sources of financing and accelerate progress towards the SDGs remains of utmost importance.

Here, the SDG Stimulus will help countries by putting forward three areas for immediate action: tackling the high cost of debt and rising risks of debt distress, scaling up affordable long-term financing for development and expanding contingency financing to countries in need.

Allow me to remind you that it is, therefore, also important to continue to push to reform the existing financial architecture as this has, in its current form, been unable to support the mobilization of stable and long-term financing at scale for investments needed to combat the climate crisis and achieve the SDGs.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

This Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals serves as a collaborative platform involving various stakeholders to assess progress and challenges within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to collaboratively seek solutions.

The outcomes of this Forum will inform the 11th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development and shape upcoming initiatives by ESCAP aimed at delivering technical support to our member States.

I want to emphasize our  unwavering support to promoting regional collaboration and supporting member States in their pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you very much.

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