Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay after formally taking over as the Chairmanship of the 70th session of UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific from H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste and Chair of the 69th Session of the Commission.

Lyonchhen addresses UNESCAP as its Chairman

The Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay conveyed to the Commission the warm greetings of His Majesty the King, as well as his best wishes for the success of the 70th Commission Session of ESCAP.

The PM ESCAP in its 7th decade of existence, continues to utilize its convening power to address through collective action some of the most daunting challenges to achieving sustainable development according to the PM.

“What is particularly noteworthy is that true to the Secretary General’s commitment to leave no one behind and a life of dignity for all, the regional body provides a platform for greater participation to the weaker and often unheard voices of the region, the least developed countries, the small island developing states and landlocked developing states in Asia and the Pacific,” said the PM.

The PM highlighted the Millennium Development Goals whose approach target date is in 2015, a little more than one year away.

“With the adoption of the outcome document of Rio+20, The Future We Want, we have charted out a path in pursuit of an inclusive and people centered post 2015 development agenda,” said the PM.

He said the 17 goals and 169 targets advanced in the proposal of the General Assembly’s Open Working Group presents a comprehensive framework for sustainable development that will serve as a precursor to discussions on the Post 2015 Development Agenda.  Together, these will shape discussions culminating in the adoption in September 2015 at the Summit level, of a new development paradigm, that will redefine the parameters for global partnerships and collaborations.

He said of equal importance to the region, were discussions on a new legally binding, universally applicable, agreement on climate change are underway.

He said the convergence of these three events, both in themselves, and collectively, has the potential to transform the growth trajectories of all economies, the security of societies, and, the happiness of peoples.

The PM said that the Secretariat’s initiative to sharpen the strategic priorities of ESCAP, as well as the inauguration of the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, and launch of the Asia Pacific Outreach Meeting for Sustainable Financing, are particularly notable.

Lyonchhen said Asia-Pacific countries have demonstrated their deep commitment to realize the Millennium Development Goals. Today, the region has been celebrated by the world community for its success in reducing income poverty from some 1.6 billion people in 1990 to about 743 million in latest count.  Inequality has risen with disparities both across as well as within countries posing a serious challenge. Maternal mortality and child malnutrition remain at unacceptably high levels.

The PM said environmental degradation in many instances has reached alarming heights. Many millions not having access to sanitation and safe drinking water. And Urban-rural divide poses a big challenge for almost all countries. “As a result, the MDGs for us remain an unfinished agenda and we must strive together to accelerate our progress towards achieving the remaining goals and targets,” said the PM.

The PM said Asia-Pacific region has made significant progress in achieving high rates of economic growth and structural change, despite an external environment that has been less conducive in the past.

He said the region has also done well in reducing income poverty and other social development indicators.

“Our achievements in other areas such as reducing hunger, eliminating gender discrimination in schooling, reducing maternal and child mortality and providing safe drinking water has been notable. But that achievement has been uneven, and in several cases, reversals have taken place. Again, the weaker countries such as the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS as a whole have a long way to go and remain particularly vulnerable to external and internal shocks, especially when they are exposed to climate change shocks which take a huge toll on their hard earned achievements,”hHe said

The PM said the theme of this Commission Session is “Regional Connectivity for Shared Prosperity”. For a region whose geographic expanse and variety is only matched by the complexity of challenges it faces, it is a timely subject that deserves serious reflection and time-bound action.

He said it would be an understatement to assert that connectivity in all its manifestations will be a key determinant for realistically achieving inclusive and sustainable development in the region.

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