Greater cooperation between Central Asia and the rest of Asia is essential to achieve sustainable development for the whole continent, given the current climate of global financial instability and food and energy insecurity, a senior United Nations official stressed today.
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) stands ready to facilitate technical and regional cooperation and provide a neutral forum for engaging in policy dialogue, Executive-Secretary of ESCAP Noeleen Heyzer told a gathering of senior Central Asian policymakers in Moscow.
“We are gathering here against the backdrop of a gloomy economic environment with pressing challenges in food and energy security, as well as the need for greater financial stability,” Under-Secretary-General Heyzer warned participants at the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA) meeting.
“By adopting the South-South cooperation modality, SPECA can provide home-grown solutions and policy options to achieve inclusive and sustainable development,” she told officials from the seven SPECA member states – Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
SPECA aims to strengthen sub-regional cooperation, mainly in the areas of energy and water, transport, trade, technology, gender and the economy, in Central Asia, as well as its integration into the world economy with support from the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
Dr. Heyzer also noted Secretary-General’s Ban Ki-moon’s proposal to the General Assembly of a joint ESCAP-ECE office in Central Asia, as well as missions by herself and her ECE counterpart to SPECA member states’ capitals to explore ways in which the region’s transitional challenges can be addressed.
Earlier today, Dr. Heyzer addressed investment in transport, energy and water at the 2008 SPECA Economic Forum, jointly organized by Russia and the UN and attended by ministers, senior government officials, business leaders, academics and development organizations.
“One of the main issues for the region is how to make the most of the opportunities that globalization offers to tap these resources in an economically, socially and ecologically balanced way,” she said.
ESCAP estimates that the annual investment and maintenance requirements for North and Central Asian transport infrastructure are almost $23 billion from 2010 to 2015 and another $40 billion is needed annually for developing energy infrastructure.