Countries in Asia and the Pacific must come closer together and increase cooperation to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity, a United Nations top official stressed today at a regional gathering in Bangkok, Thailand.
“Asia has grown, our economies have flourished, and economic power has shifted to our region – but at a cost to our people and to our planet, with rising inequalities and ecosystems stretched beyond their carrying limits,” the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Noeleen Heyzer, told country representatives at the Commission’s 68th annual session.
The theme of session, Growing Together – Economic Integration for an Inclusive and Sustainable Asia-Pacific Century, seeks to highlight the region’s untapped potential for sustainable economic growth by working together to build a more integrated Asia-Pacific market, seamless regional connectivity, financial cooperation and a coordinated regional response to shared social and environmental risks.
“In order to steer through the turbulence, to a new path of shared and sustainable prosperity, we must rethink and rebalance the economies and societies of our region,” Ms. Heyzer said in her remarks, urging Governments to rise to the challenge of the “transformational leadership” needed to promote shared growth.
“It is no longer enough for Asia and the Pacific to grow the most – our future success demands of us to grow the best,” Ms. Heyzer added, noting that ESCAP can provide a multilateral platform for the region to build that future together.
Earlier this month, ESCAP, which serves as the United Nations’ regional development arm for Asia and the Pacific, published a report which predicted the region’s growth would slow down this year, but would still be the fastest-growing region in the world. The report also noted that inclusive growth must be a priority for the region given its levels of income inequality, which have grown by 15 per cent in developing Asia-Pacific economies since the 1990s.
ESCAP’s 68th session, which is being held between 17-23 May, comprises two parts: the senior officials segment, from 17-19 May, and the ministerial segment, from 21-23 May. Among other topics, discussions among attendees have also covered ways to step up cooperation in the areas of trade, investment and resource development.