Asia-Pacific countries look beyond the MDGs

Asia-Pacific Ministerial Dialogue: The panelists include Gen. (Ret.) Nadeem Ahmed, Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority, Pakistan (former); Senator Richard Gordon, President and CEO of the Philippine National Red Cross and former Minister of Tourism, Philippines; Dr. William Sabandar, Special Assistant to the President of Indonesia; Dr. Rizal Ramli, Minister of Finance (former) and Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Indonesia (former; Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN (former). The Roundtable was moderated by Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP with the concluding remarks by H.E. Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.Heads of State, Ministers and high-level representatives from Asia and the Pacific gather in Bangkok this week to collectively explore and identify the key challenges in the region that should be addressed in the elaboration of the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015 based on the lessons learned from the MDGs framework.

Convened by the Royal Government of Thailand with the support of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission of Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Dialogue: From the Millennium Development Goals to the United Nations Development Agenda beyond 2015 marks the first regional Ministerial-level event to discuss the United Nations post-2015 development agenda following the release of the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons.

Dr. Noeleen Heyzer, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, affirmed the importance of the meeting and the region’s role in shaping this agenda: “The Millennium Declaration in 2000 outlined a bold vision for the future. The MDGs were modest compared to the Declaration, yet galvanised our efforts and showed what we can achieve. Now is the time for us to aim for the higher future.”

“To build truly sustainable economic prosperity for our people and our planet, we need now to focus on the Sustainable Development Goals a sour comprehensive and universal framework for the post-2015 development agenda,” added Dr. Heyzer. “Now is the opportunity for the Asia-Pacific region to lead on sustainable development.”

“We now have less than 900 days to meet the targets of the MDGs. It is up to us all to mobilize an all-out effort in realizing the MDGs as much as possible by the target date,” H.E. Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand told the meeting in his Keynote address at the Dialogue’s opening session. “But our efforts should not stop there. We need to continue the spirit of the Millennium Declaration by completing our unfinished work under the new development agenda.”

The opening session of the Dialogue also served as a platform for the official Asia-Pacific launch of the High-level Panel’s report “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development”. Ms. Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste and member of the High-level Panel, and Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning and ex-officio member of the High-level Panel presented the report to the Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and H.E. Mr.Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minster of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and Chair of ESCAP’s 69 th Commission Session.

As outlined in the report, the key transformative shifts are: leaving no-one behind; putting sustainable development at the core of the development agenda; transforming economies for jobs and inclusive growth; building peace and effective,open and accountable institutions for all and; forging a new global partnership.

The Dialogue was preceded by a two-day meeting – the Asia-Pacific Civil Society Consultation on a Just and Transformative Development Agenda – jointly organized by the Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development and United Nations ESCAP (UNESCAP) in partnership with IBON International, Asia Pacific Forumon Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN), the Asian Indigenous People’s Pact (AIPP), and Asia Development Alliance (ADA). Messages from these deliberations by over 100 representatives of civil society organizations from across Asia-Pacific will be shared with Dialogue participants.

The meeting is expected to adopt a Ministerial Declaration, and the outcome of the Dialogue will be shared with the Open Working Group of the General Assembly on Sustainable Development Goals as an input from the Asia-Pacific region.