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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/19/2023
Origin Location
Almaty
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ESCAP News
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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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Asian and Pacific governments meeting at UN forum seek to balance debt vulnerability concerns with additional investments in sustainable development, climate action

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Wed, 01/11/2023 - 12:13
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G/18/2023
Origin Location
Bangkok
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Governments meeting this week at a United Nations forum are considering new ways of assessing public debt sustainability and scaling up sustainable finance against a backdrop of the need to increase investments in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and stronger climate action, and at a time when public coffers remain hemmed in by recent multiple crises.

Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, fallout from the war in Ukraine and other global turbulences over the last several years have left many governments in Asia and the Pacific short on public funds to meet their commitments on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is at its midway point this year.

Therefore, identifying long-term financing solutions to get the Goals back on track and incorporating SDG investment requirements while assessing debt risks will be the main discussion point at the fourth session of the Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Financing for Development.

“The imperative for the significant needed additional investments in SDGs is colored by an increasing number of countries experiencing rising debt distress. In this environment, a key policy challenge is how to accelerate investments in SDGs while maintaining public debt sustainability in the long term,” 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).

“In our new financing for development report, Sustainable Finance: Bridging the Gap in Asia and the Pacific, we lay out ten principles for action to close the gap in sustainable finance, and discuss in detail what governments, regulators and private finance entities can do to scale-up sustainable finance and how to increase its affordability and accessibility,” she added.

In his opening remarks, the State Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka, Shehan Semasinghe said: “As fiscal deficits have become common in both developed and developing countries, borrowing for budget finance needs to be looked at in a new light. Indeed, a new approach is necessary in particular to circumvent the present approach’s undue favoritism of short-term public debt sustainability at the expense of long-term economic and social development.”

According to the latest estimates of the G20 Independent Expert Group, the global annual incremental investments needed by developing countries (excluding China) for SDGs and climate action are around

$3 trillion, with about two-thirds expected to come from domestic resource mobilization and local finance. External financing commitments are expected to contribute the remaining $1 trillion, split evenly between both official development financing and private capital.

In response, the United Nations Secretary-General has launched the ‘SDG Stimulus to deliver the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, which aims to tackle the high cost of debt, scale up long-term financing for development and expand contingency financing to countries in need.

Competing pressures, however, have resulted in ballooning debt for many regional economies, with the public debt-to-GDP ratio reaching an 18-year high by 2021 and exposing an increasing number of countries to the risk of debt distress. ESCAP contends that a high level of public debt is not necessarily bad; what matters is how it is used. Its analysis recommends adopting a long-term approach to assess the risk of debt distress and shows that debt levels can indeed go down if the socio-economic and environmental gains of investments in SDGs are taken into account.

The Committee is scheduled to deliberate on debt sustainability and sustainable finance issues and hear from the experience of participants to increase understanding of the need for, and the policy implications of, a long-term public debt sustainability analysis that takes into consideration investments in the SDGs and climate action.

The Committee will also review the ten broad principles underpinning the actions to be undertaken by governments, regulators and private finance entities to scale up sustainable finance in Asia and the Pacific. These ten principles are guiding ideas that are in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda to support financing for the SDGs and climate action, rather than binding commitments by member States.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2023/committee-mpfd-fourth-session

Watch the proceedings: www.youtube.com/unescap

 

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Asian and Pacific countries at UN forum agree on measures to shape energy transition, address climate crisis

Submitted by SCHANCHA1 on Fri, 20/10/2023 - 10:01
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G/17/2023
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Bangkok
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Asian and Pacific countries agreed today on measures to shape the future of energy use and generation, and to address climate change in a region that consumes more than 40 per cent of the world’s power and generates more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions.

These critical issues were the focus of the third Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (APEF), which closed today at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok. This event brought together more than 265 participants from 42 countries, including ministers, senior officials, experts and representatives of international organizations.

“Recent crises have tested us all, resulting in economic shocks, energy supply price rises and supply chain disruptions, all of which have threatened progress on the energy transition and, more broadly, sustainable development,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in her opening remarks.

She added, “These events remind us of the need for energy resilience and security to be considered alongside sustainability. For the energy sector, pursuing better energy efficiency, universal access to modern energy and increasing the share of renewable energy are strategies that can improve our collective ability to weather these shocks and recover better.”

Asia and the Pacific undergoing rapid development is standing at a pivotal moment in the global energy transition. It plays a critical role in securing policies, strategies and initiatives that address energy resilience and security, and progress on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy). Across the region, there is a crucial need to close the final gaps in universal electricity access, clean cooking, energy efficiency and renewable energy adoption. Countries also have agreed on a Regional Road Map on Power System Connectivity for creating secure, sustainable and affordable power systems. The Road Map also underscores the importance of multilateral power trading to unlock the flexibility needed to enable the integration of high shares of renewable energy.

“At the heart of this challenge is affordability. Energy must be more accessible and affordable to marginalized and underserved communities,” underscored H.E. Pirapan Salirathavibhaga, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy of Thailand.

The Forum culminated in the adoption of a ministerial declaration on “Building a Secure, Sustainable and Interconnected Energy Future for Asia and the Pacific” that will guide the partnership between ESCAP and its member States in addressing these pressing energy challenges towards a sustainable energy future in the region.

For further information: https://bit.ly/APEF-3

Read the flagship report Closing the gap for SDG 7 in the Asia-Pacific Region: https://bit.ly/RTR-SDG7-2023

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

For multimedia assets: https://bit.ly/APEF3-Trello

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UN forum opens with a resounding call to accelerate SDG action in South and South-West Asia

Submitted by SCHANCHA1 on Wed, 11/10/2023 - 15:38
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G/16/2023
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Kathmandu, Nepal
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The Seventh South and South-West Asia Multistakeholder Forum on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals opened today in Kathmandu, Nepal 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).

The event was co-hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and National Planning Commission of the Government of Nepal, in partnership with UN Nepal and the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Delegates further underscored the need to accelerate efforts to tackle the polycrisis faced in South and South-West 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.

“The need to secure sources of financing and accelerated 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 risk of debt distress, scaling up affordable long-term financing for development, and expanding contingency financing to countries in need,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP opening the forum.

South and South-West Asia is currently not on track to achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. While there has been positive progress on most Goals in the subregion, regressing trends have also been observed for Goals 13 and 14 related to climate action and life below water.

“We must intensify our efforts to achieve the lost ground on the SDGs. We need to focus on a new global blueprint with renewed measures,” said Hon. Dr. Ram Kumar Phuyal, National Planning Commission, Nepal.

Approximately 100 delegates from nine countries representing governments, civil society, the private sector and academic institutions 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).

Daya Sagar Shrestha, Executive Director, National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal and Focal Point for Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism shared, “A human rights-based approach and development justice are instrumental to addressing the unprecedented crises.”

Chandra Dhakal, President, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, further added, “To achieve the SDGs, we must create business-friendly policies that strike a balance between incentives and regulations ensuring transparency and accountability.”

During the thematic sessions over the next three days, the ILO, FAO, World Bank, UNDP and ESCAP will present key trends and challenges related to the Goals in focus for South and South-West Asia to stimulate stakeholder discussions. Participants are expected to identify priorities and develop recommendations on, among others, alleviating poverty and hunger for all, taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, building peace, justice and strong institutions, and promoting regional and subregional cooperation towards implementation of the SDGs.

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.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2023/seventh-south-and-south-west-asia-forum-sustainable-development-goals

For multimedia assets: https://trello.com/b/G3u0Fajj/apfsd11

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UN forum in Kathmandu, Nepal, 10 October 2023

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UN launches ten principles for action to bridge the sustainable finance gap in Asia and the Pacific

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Thu, 05/10/2023 - 22:55
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News Number
G/15/2023
Origin Location
Bangkok
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Amidst the challenging macroeconomic environment in many countries and concerns around public debt sustainability, progress in financing climate action in Asia and the Pacific has only fallen further behind, even as global emissions and energy needs continue to rise.

A new report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) highlights the urgent issue of sustainable finance in the region as well as discusses the challenges and opportunities for policymakers, regulators and private finance in bridging this gap.

“Inaction is no longer an option. All stakeholders must commit to accelerate change by transforming their financing priorities, processes and programs, in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action ambitions,” said Hamza Ali Malik, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy and Financing for Development Division, ESCAP.

Only 17 of the 51 Asia-Pacific countries party to the UNFCCC have assessed and reported their financial needs to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and only seven have broken down financial needs between adaptation and mitigation. Moreover, average economic losses resulting from disaster-related and other natural hazards in the region are forecast to increase to $1.1 trillion in a moderate climate-change scenario and $1.4 trillion in a worst-case scenario.

The Sustainable Finance: Bridging the Gap in Asia and the Pacific report puts forward ten principles for action for policymakers, regulators and private finance. This includes activities for all stakeholders to cooperatively and efficiently shift and scale up capital to finance climate action, focusing on reducing obstacles, addressing the underpricing of climate-related risks, and reducing sectoral and regional mismatches between capital and investment needs. These insights further incorporate unique national contexts, as well as those for least developed countries and small island developing States.

“At a time where multiple challenges are pushing against the critical but already lagging sustainability agenda, we need to cast off any paralysis we have and galvanise action. Finance is a key enabler for action and this report provides practical and effective ideas that we can immediately act on. I urge all stakeholders to urgently identify the areas where they can play a role and come together to deliver solutions,” said Eugene Wong, CEO, Sustainable Finance Institute Asia.

The report also recognizes that there is sufficient capital and liquidity to close the global financing gap in sustainable finance. However, various challenges remain, as discussed in the report, to effectively deploy capital for climate action.

“The Asia-Pacific region presents a huge opportunity for private capital to be mobilised at scale to fund the climate transition, especially in the hard-to-abate sectors. While voluntary market standards continue to harmonise transparency expectations and ensure investor confidence, both the public and private sectors should work together to enable policy and regulatory frameworks, and correspondingly leverage important financing options such as local currency and blended finance facilities,” said Ricco Zhang, Senior Director for Asia Pacific, International Capital Market Association.

“I believe every stakeholder group will discover valuable insights and actionable ideas within this report on how to channel capital towards climate-related investments and socially just transition, ultimately bolstering the sustainable finance market and ensuring funding for the Sustainable Development Goals,” shared Aigul Kussaliyeva, Director of Sustainable Development, Astana International Financial Centre.

The publication is part of the biennial Financing for Development Report Series produced by ESCAP and was officially launched at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand on 2 October. Speaking at the launch, Cherdchai Chaivaivid, Director-General of the Department of International Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, commended the leadership of ESCAP in promoting sustainable finance and stressed the importance of the Report, which “offered not only a comprehensive and in-depth analysis on sustainable financing, but also a practical way forward for tangible actions that countries could collectively and individually undertake.” He further reaffirmed Thailand’s readiness to support international collaboration on sustainable finance and to contribute to policy conversations on this issue going forward.

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Symposium to address air pollution and enhance collaboration in North-East Asia

Submitted by SSUPHUTT on Thu, 07/09/2023 - 13:55
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G/14/2023
Origin Location
Seoul
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Air pollution, a pressing global concern impacting human health and the environment, had led to the establishment of the North-East Asia Clean Air Partnership (NEACAP) within the framework of the North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation (NEASPEC).

In line with its programme on air pollution, the ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office (as NEASPEC Secretariat), in collaboration with the National Air Emission Inventory and Research Center (under the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea), organized a symposium on air pollution on 7 September 2023 in Seoul.

Commemorating the 4th International Day of Clean Air for blue skies, the symposium brought together high-level government officials, globally renowned research experts, and sector specialists from international organizations to share information and analyses on air pollutant emissions, air quality management, and impacts of air improvement policies.

Ganbold Baasanjav, Director of ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office, expressed in his opening remarks that “our collective efforts have the potential to expedite substantial progress in addressing air pollution across the North-East Asia region.”

The event also served as a platform for experts from North-East Asia and beyond to introduce air quality management policies and prevailing international cooperation trends. Discussions encompassed methodologies for managing air pollutant emission inventories adopted by international organizations and countries. Deliberations also extended to policy effect analysis methodologies employing scientific approaches like air quality modeling. In addition, the symposium evaluated the status of managing air pollutant emission data and gauging effectiveness of policies aimed at mitigating fine dust.

The symposium deliberations will feed into the discussions at the 5th Meeting of NEACAP’s Science and Policy Committee to be held on 8 September 2023. The Committee, reporting to NEASPEC’s Senior Officials Meeting, is the steering body tasked to plan, monitor and review NEACAP activities and to promote science-policy linkages through guiding technical assessments and dialogues.

About NEASPEC: The North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environment Cooperation (NEASPEC) is committed to promoting environmental sustainability and cooperation among countries in North-East Asia. Through initiatives like the North-East Asian Clean Air Partnership (NEACAP), NEASPEC addresses critical issues such as air pollution to ensure the well-being of both communities and ecosystems.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2023/symposium-air-pollutant-emissions-inventory-and-air-quality-management

For media enquiries or spokesperson interview requests, please contact

Mr. Tae Min Park

ESCAP East and North-East Asia Office

E: [email protected] / [email protected]

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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
Origin Location
Bangkok
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ESCAP News
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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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Participants in the meeting on the Vienna Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries

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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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ESCAP News
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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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