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UNESCAP 72 Commission Session May 15-19, 2016

WASME attended the 72nd session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) that was held from 15 to 19 May, at United Nations Building in Bangkok, Thailand.

The theme of 72nd session was ‘Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) for Sustainable Development, thatplaces emphasis on harnessing STI towards achieving the 2030 Agenda in Asia-Pacific. The study of ESCAP’s new theme proposes shifting STI policy to focus on supporting social justice and environmental protection; resource efficiency; integrating openness and inclusivity into innovation strategies; and the promotion of technology to support quality jobs and reduce environmental impact.

The commission session was attended by session Heads of government and other high-level officials from around Asia and the Pacific where they discussed regional cooperation and integration and reviewed the key challenges to achieving inclusive and sustainable economic and social development.

The four day session commenced on 15 May, 2016 withThe Senior Officials Segmenton 15 May 2016. The session was opened by Under-Secretary-General and ESCAP Executive Secretary Dr. ShamshadAkhtar. Dr Akhtardelivered an opening speech to delegates from ESCAP member States and associate members and she emphasized on strong political commitment, action and well-functioning coordination mechanisms, fully supported by the countries of Asia and the Pacific.

Later, the sessions of the Committee of the Whole, reviewed the work of ESCAP over the last 12 months in areas including: macroeconomic policy; poverty reduction and inclusive development; trade and investment; subregional activities for development; environment and development; information and communications technology, and disaster risk reduction; social development; statistics and management issues.

From WASME Mr. GyanPrakashAgarwal, Secretary General, Ms. Sampa Banerjee, Executive Director, Mr. Hideaki Fujimoto, Permanent Representative of WASME in Thailand, Ms. MeghaChadha, Project Coordinator attended the session on May 15, 2016.

Mr. GyanPrakashAgarwalshared his statement at the session. In his statement Mr. GyanPrakashAgarwal appreciated UNESCAP’s efforts to achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and coping with various emerging social and economic issues through rigorous analysis, and peer learning in its core areas of work; initiating policy dialogues and recommendations; providing development practices, knowledge sharing and technical assistance to member States in the implementation of these recommendations. Also while explaining about the momentous role played by the SME sector in generating employment, contributing to a nation’s GDP, alleviating poverty etc. towards achieving MDGs, He reiterated WASME’s commitment in strengthening international cooperation with many organizations, national governments and the United Nations to provide innovative and best possible solutions to ensure growth and sustainable development SMEs worldwide.

The senior officials segment continued on Second Day on May 16, 2016 with the Special Body on Least Developed, Landlocked Developing and Pacific Island Developing Countries followed by deliberations of Working Group on Draft Resolutions. Inmorning session Dr. Akhtar highlighted countries with special needs, which represent the majority of ESCAP’s membership and number of common and divergent challenges that they face due to their geographical diversity and a variety of specific structural vulnerabilities. She also emphasized that ESCAP has been working intensively to assist countries with special needs to overcome these challenges through capacity building; improving implementation and monitoring of trade and foreign direct investment liberalization; and new initiatives to complement country efforts in the areas of disaster risk reduction, energy, connectivity and social development, among others.

The third day of the Commission session continued with the Working Group on Draft Resolutions, followed by a special event hosted by the Government of China on this year’s G20 Summit to be held in Hangzhou in September. Chinese Ambassador H.E. Mr.Ning Fukui highlighted that the theme of this year’s summit is ‘Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy,’ and the summit will focus on providing policy support and recommendations to help least developed countries realize the Sustainable Development Goals.

The ministerial segment of the 72nd Commission session was opened with a flag parade of ESCAP’s 53 member States and 9 associate members, and the Prime Minister of Tajikistan, H.E. Mr.QohirRasulzoda was elected as the Chair of this year’s session.

In a written message to the 72nd Commission session, United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon commended ESCAP on its impressive work in supporting governments through strategic policy advice and innovative capacity building, adding that the regional response to the 2030 Agenda must match the scope of the challenge. Mr. Moon shared“We are living in a crucially important period for humanity. Last year the leaders of the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Paris agreement on climate change. But the delivery of our crucial mandate starts from this year. We have the collective responsibility to turn these landmark agreements into tangible actions now.”

Dr. Akhtar delivered her policy statement stressing that strong political commitment, action and well-functioning coordination mechanisms, fully supported by the countries of Asia and the Pacific, will be critical to ensure that “no one is left behind.”

“Comprehensive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires partnerships and deployment of new solutions between countries and across sub regions. The 2030 Agenda calls for fundamental policy rethinking, and shifts in action, for which pacing and sequencing of national initiatives will be critical.”Dr. Akhtar. “Dr. Akhtar highlighted the crucial role of regional cooperation and connectivity, noting that appropriate pacing and sequencing of regional cooperation holds the potential to reinvigorate growth and shared prosperity through diversification, inclusiveness and sustainable development..“Smart development demands that we move from silo-bound to cross-sectoral approaches and solutions, deploy the right mix of policies and incentives and address cross-cutting and thematic areas such as tackling all types and sources of inequality,”added Dr. Akhtar.

The ministerial opening was followed by a High-Level Dialogue on Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration. Moderated by Dr. Akhtar, the panel comprised of ministers and experts from Fiji, Tajikistan, Tuvalu, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia and Iran. The panelists recognized the opportunities and challenges to achieving the 2030 Agenda such as building climate resilience, South-South cooperation, forging partnerships in the fields of science, technology and innovation, as well as deepening regional integration.

The fourth day of CS72 opened with the Special Body on Least Developed Landlocked Developing and Pacific Island Developing Countries. High-level officials from Tuvalu, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mongolia, Fiji, Lao PDR and Azerbaijan spoke on their unique experiences, challenges and country-specific strategies for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, taking into account respective levels of development and existing capacity.

The Ministerial Roundtable on the Theme Study of the 72nd Commission session: Harnessing science, technology and innovation for inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, provided a platform for member States’ insights on how the region can develop concrete and sustainable innovation and technology sharing opportunities to bridge development gaps. The Report shows that although the Asia-Pacific region accounts for almost 43 per cent of the global research and development expenditure, 95 per cent of researchers are based in only five countries.

The 72nd Commission session has closed with the adoption of 12 resolutions. The resolutions covered, among other areas, strengthening regional cooperation for transport connectivity; promoting conservation and sustainable use of the oceans seas and marine resources and; combating sand and dust storms; fostering regional cooperation and partnerships to respond to climate change challenges; advancing disaster related statistics for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; committing to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda; harnessing science technology and innovation for sustainable development; and the framework agreement on facilitation of cross-border paperless trade in Asia and the Pacific.