Regional United Nations entities in Asia and the Pacific are scaling up efforts and coordination to support countries in their COVID-19 response and accelerate sustainable development in the region.
At the first meeting of the new Regional Collaborative Platform for Asia and the Pacific held on 23 March — a new mechanism that brings together UN development entities in the region — Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed underscored the importance of regional efforts to respond to COVID-19 and other complex challenges that know no borders.
She welcomed the steps taken by the UN system at the regional level to strengthen its support to countries. “The United Nations continues to make progress on its sweeping reforms to strengthen our work on all fronts – country, regional and global,” said Mohammed. “This platform sets the foundations for a much stronger contribution by regional UN entities to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Asia and the Pacific.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has erased years of social-economic progress in Asia and the Pacific. The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) estimates that 89 million more people in the region have been pushed back into extreme poverty at the $1.90 per day threshold, reversing years of development gains. The economic and educational shutdowns are likely to have severely harmed human capital formation and productivity, exacerbating poverty and inequality.
Under unprecedented circumstances, the UN has been making progress on its sweeping reforms to boost support to countries, leveraging its capacities at all levels. “As a region, we have a long way to go to meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana. “In particular, we are regressing when it comes to climate action [Goal 13] and life below water [Goal 14]. COVID-19 has put tremendous strain on the UN family. But it has also brought out the very best in terms of collaboration and mutual support in our Regional UN team,” added Alisjahbana, who is also a Vice-Chair of the RCP.
“The advancement of the UN reform agenda reinforces once again that we are stronger together,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General Kanni Wignaraja, Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific at the UN Development Programme (UNDP). “The establishment of the regional collaborative platform in Asia and the Pacific during a pandemic year proves that we are in the right direction towards creating a more coherent and strengthened UN system,” added Wignaraja, who is also a Vice-Chair of the platform. “We are now better positioned to instantly respond to emerging needs and take action in fighting regional disparities. The new structure brings us closer at the regional level and also closer to the UN Country Teams and people that we serve.”
The meeting of the new Regional Collaborative Platform took place on the first day of the 8th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), which is being held online from 23 to 26 March. This new Platform was established in October 2020 after the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendations to harness UN regional assets.
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