The 71st session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) opened its ministerial session today in Bangkok, as region’s leaders meet to discuss the integration and implementation of economic, social and environmental development with focus on financing and partnership.
“As we take the first steps in the next phase of our shared development journey, the people of Asia and the Pacific are poised to lead in economic growth, in social innovation and in environmental stewardship,” Shamshad Akhtar, ESCAP Executive Secretary, said at the opening of session.
She also encouraged regional leaders to focus on sustainable development and to “ensure that 2015 also marks the real start of the Asia-Pacific Century.”
The theme for this year’s session is ‘Balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development: from integration to implementation,’ with emphasis on balancing and integrating the economic, environmental and social aspects of development.
In a message to the session, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon not only touted the crucial role ESCAP plays in the region, but he also stressed the important focus on climate change and sustainable development.
“Only if consumption and production patterns change can humanity create shared long-term prosperity,” said Mr. Ban.
ESCAP is accelerating regional connectivity with member states’ support, highlighted Ms. Akhtar, for shared prosperity especially in integrated transportation and accessible information.
Spotlighting the significance of financing with regional partners, Ms. Akhtar called for five key adjustments: enhance domestic market; pursue inclusive growth; drive structural reforms; strengthen regional partnership; and address gaps in genders, income and urban-rural areas.
Climate change, natural disasters, economic growth, and issues related to small island developing States have also been discussed in the forum.
Over 550 participants from 50 Member States and associate members are attending the 71st Commission session this week, making it the largest attendance of Pacific Heads of State and Government in recent history.