UN regional forum urges greater cooperation among Asia-Pacific governments

Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer.
Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer.

UN regional forum urges greater cooperation among Asia-Pacific governments

Wrapping up a development policy forum in Thailand, the head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission in Asia-Pacific (ESCAP) today called for greater economic integration and cooperation in the region to counter the growing threat posted by severe natural disasters and economic shocks.

“We have entered an era in which South-South Cooperation will play an increasingly important role,” Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer told the closing ceremony at a three-day development policy forum in Bangkok.

“While regional economic integration is already an important trend, it is time for us to unlock the real potential of inter-regional cooperation,” she urged more than 300 participants representing 45 countries.

During the development forum, participants adopted a record 17 resolutions aiming to balance the economic, social and environmental dimensions of regional well-being, ESCAP noted in its news release.

“Disaster risk management and better preparedness are key development imperatives,” Ms. Heyzer said summarizing some of the key messages from the forum. “People at every level must be empowered partners in change; political, technical and financial resources must be mobilized before shocks hit; apathy is our biggest risk; and early warnings and early actions save lives and livelihoods.”

Highlighting the need to build more resilient economic and communities, and form greater partnerships between regions and countries in the Southern hemisphere, the ESCAP Executive Secretary said the region is part of the next great transformation: “The true opportunity of rising Asia-Pacific is to change the idea of progress – to prove that people and planet prosper best together.”

The intergovernmental meeting on the increasingly severe natural disaster and economic shocks was the first ESCAP Session since the landmark UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Brazil in June 2012.

Ms. Heyzer said the world body’s annual regional assembly this year offered “the opportunity to grow better, to close development gaps, to build resilience, to end hunger, and to ensure the inclusive and sustainable future we want.”

In yesterday’s session, Ms. Heyzer stressed that policymakers must balance short-term stability with long-term development. “In the midst of a crisis or disaster, we can ill-afford to mechanically apply the conventional norms of macroeconomic stabilization. We need an Asia-Pacific regional framework for resilience.”