Bhutan has greatly benefited from ESCAP, Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji addressing the opening session of the 78th Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on 23 May

STAFF REPORTER

Thimphu

Foreign Minister Dr. Tandi Dorji addressed the opening session of the 78th Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) on 23 May.

This year, the session was held in a hybrid format from 23-27 May in Bangkok, Thailand with the theme; “A common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.”

This session commemorates the 75 years of the establishment of UN-ESCAP since 1947, which also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Bhutan joining the regional arm of the UN in 1972.

Dr Tandi Dorji said that over the last 50 years, Bhutan has greatly benefited from our close association with the institution.

He said the ESCAP’s technical assistance and support extended in human resource development have benefited us immensely.

The foreign minister added that Bhutan embraced the sustainable development path and mainstreamed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our national plans and programs and has made broad-based progress across most of the SDGs.

“However, given the significant impacts of the pandemic, there is a lot more to be done. So far, Bhutan has presented two voluntary national review reports on SDGs to the UN high level political forum, one in 2018 and the other in 2021,” he said.

The minister also said that despite the adverse impacts of the pandemic on the socio-economic landscape, Bhutan is blessed to have the enlightened leadership of His Majesty the King, under whose constant guidance; the government introduced various interventions aimed at minimizing the impacts of the pandemic with targeted economic and social measures projected towards a reassuring path of recovery.

Over the last five days, the session, amongst others, deliberated on how to advance the 2030 Common Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific; and to collectively address the adverse impacts of the pandemic and climate change that LDC, LLDCS and Pacific Island Developing States are facing today.

According to the Bangkok Declaration, adopted at the conclusion of the 78th session of ESCAP, it renews the region’s commitment to promoting multilateralism and international cooperation and strengthening partnerships for sustainable development, and upholding the principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.

As per the press release from ESCAP, Asia and the Pacific is currently facing its biggest test on the back of cascading socio-economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, raging geopolitical conflicts and climate crisis.

Some 85 million people have been pushed back into extreme poverty by the pandemic alone, millions more losing their jobs or livelihoods and a generation of children is missing precious time on education.

The Declaration sets forth a common agenda to advance sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, drawing upon priority areas identified from country consultations and negotiations.

Further, the governments promised to leave no one behind, as well as place women and youth at the heart of development. They also reaffirmed the importance of trade as an engine of inclusive growth, protecting the planet, enhancing regional connectivity and exploiting technological opportunities.

The countries called for a reinvigorated role of ESCAP – observing the 75th anniversary of its establishment – as a regional development platform to respond effectively to the changing and emerging needs of the region. They also underscored the need for governments to create sufficient fiscal space to allow for greater investment in sustainable development.

“This resolution shows an unprecedented commitment and genuine engagement of countries to join forces to overcome current complexities and safeguard development aspirations of the people in Asia and the Pacific,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP.

Over 740 delegates from 52 member States and associate members, various stakeholder groups and international organizations attended the 78th session held from 23 – 27 May in Bangkok.

In addition, three other resolutions on inclusive civil registration and vital statistics, sustainable transport development and changes to the ESCAP conference structure were also adopted at this regional assembly.

Recognizing the growing frequency and intensity of trans-boundary disasters in the region, countries underlined the crucial need to strengthen disaster risk information management and multi-hazard early warning systems.

The Regional Plan of Action on Sand and Dust Storms in Asia and the Pacific was also endorsed to scale-up collaborative efforts and minimize the associated risks on communities.

The UN ESCAP was established in 1947 with its headquarters in Bangkok, Thailand. It is the regional development arm of the United Nations for the Asia-Pacific region with 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members with a geographical scope that covers 4.1 billion people or two thirds of the world’s population.