"Please check against delivery ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR"
Please check against delivery ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Sixty-fourth session 24-30 April 2008 Bangkok Ministerial Segment Welcome statement by Ms. Noeleen Heyzer Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Monday, 28 April 2008 Your Excellency, Mr. A.B. Mirza Md. Azizul Islam, Honourable Adviser, Acting Chairperson of the sixty- third session of the Commission, Your Excellency, Mr. Samak Sundaravej, Prime Minister of Thailand, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen, It gives me great pleasure to extend to you all a very warm welcome to the sixty-fourth session of the Commission. On behalf of all distinguished delegates present here and on my own behalf, I should like to express our deep appreciation to you, Mr. Prime Minister, for taking time from pressing duties of state to inaugurate this session. 1 CS64 Ministerial Segment, Executive Secretary’s Opening statement, 28 April 2008 Please check against delivery Mr. Prime Minister, Your presence here today reaffirms Thailand’s commitment to the aims and ideals of the United Nations Charter. This commitment is demonstrated through Thailand’s strong partnership with ESCAP as the regional arm of the United Nations in Asia-Pacific and Thailand’s gracious hosting of the ESCAP secretariat since January 1949, for which we are truly grateful. Excellencies, For me, this ---- my first Commission session as your Executive Secretary --- is a momentous occasion. In a sense the journey had begun last May in Almaty when, as Executive Director of UNIFEM, I was guest of the Government of Kazakhstan and also had the opportunity to address the ministerial segment of the sixty-third session on the Millennium Development Goals and gender equality. Mr. Acting Chairperson, I am thus especially gratified that you are with us today, providing a link between Almaty and Bangkok. 2 CS64 Ministerial Segment, Executive Secretary’s Opening statement, 28 April 2008 Please check against delivery Permit me to share with you what had so moved me in Almaty, in addition to the hospitality of the host Government of Kazakhstan. The sixty-third session in Almaty was essentially about commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of this Commission. The sixtieth anniversary recalled the vision and hopes of the founding fathers whose determination enabled developing countries of this region to have their own regional platform through this Commission. As the only regional organization for decades, the Commission was often referred to as “The First Parliament of Asia” where “… the peoples of Asia meet together, hold together and advance together.” Since the mid-1970s, the membership of the Commission has been strengthened with the inclusion of Pacific countries and territories, and those of other subregions. Today, the comprehensive membership of Asia-Pacific is a hallmark of this Commission. Moreover, since those early days, ESCAP has spawned many organizations, including the Asian Development Bank. As I embarked on my journey at the helm of the ESCAP secretariat, it was the spirit and foresight of our founding fathers that guided me in my endeavour to work towards fulfilling the true promise of their dream of a commission 3 CS64 Ministerial Segment, Executive Secretary’s Opening statement, 28 April 2008 Please check against delivery that would link the countries of the region in advancing together. This afternoon, I shall be reporting to you on concrete steps taken towards the fulfilment of that promise. There is a new impetus to strengthening the regional dimension that bridges global and national processes. This means strengthening ESCAP as your regional platform for sharing development practices, engaging in policy dialogue and building consensus on economic, social and environmental issues. As Asia-Pacific emerges as a major actor on the world stage and the world applauds this region for its economic miracles, let us not stop on our development journey. Today we face an imminent crisis of rapidly rising inequalities in the region. Income disparities have led, among others, to serious social and environmental inequities. An increasing proportion of the poor in the region live in areas where the environment is under stress. In many countries, the poorest people may use less energy but actually pay proportionately more than the rich for energy services. These high levels of 4 CS64 Ministerial Segment, Executive Secretary’s Opening statement, 28 April 2008 Please check against delivery inequality are diminishing growth prospects and eroding social cohesion in the region. Against this background, let us look hard at the issues that progress and wealth must help address: economic and social imbalances, including gender inequality; and intra- regional, intra-country and even intra-province and intra- State disparities. Let us recall the founding fathers of this Commission who were seized with hope for the collective advancement of developing countries of the region. This session, which focuses on energy security and sustainable development, is an opportunity for moving closer towards collaboration and solidarity that benefits all, in a departure from excessive competition whose real price is human suffering and the crushing of development prospects. Together, let us now shape a more balanced and integrated economic and social order, so that we may genuinely take pride in our achievement of harmonious, inclusive and sustainable development. Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, 5 CS64 Ministerial Segment, Executive Secretary’s Opening statement, 28 April 2008 Please check against delivery Your Commission is as strong and as effective as you decide it should be. Its strength mirrors the strength and solidarity of its membership. Let us together reinforce the foundations of this Commission as your forum for articulating the Asia-Pacific voice and leadership on development issues, one that supports your preparations for participation and leadership in the global arena. Let us create a new momentum in regional cooperation to address the disparities that fester at the core of instability and insecurity, and that could mar the economic vibrance for which the region is acclaimed. Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates, I look forward to your support and cooperation in writing together a new chapter in the history of this Commission whose real promise we may together nurture and fully reveal. I thank you. * * * 6 CS64 Ministerial Segment, Executive Secretary’s Opening statement, 28 April 2008