UNESCAP's 79th Session (2023)

Release Date

Dr. Chaiskran Hiranpruk, PPSEAWA Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), attended and sent the following press release:

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) opened its 79th session in Bangkok Thailand, with global and regional leaders calling for urgent action to combat climate change and its dire impacts.

They urged countries in the region to meet their nationally determined contributions, intensify development of climate-sensitive technology, nurture policy environments supporting both industrial diversification and low-emission transport, as well as increase investments in renewable energy infrastructure.

“Asia and the Pacific can set the pace of climate action in the decades to come. Most countries in the region have already pledged carbon neutrality goals towards mid-century. But we need to accelerate action, with steep reductions in emissions within the next few years,” said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his opening message.
Climate change poses major challenges to all strands of sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. The region includes 13 of the 30 countries most vulnerable to climate impacts and without concerted action, it could see an additional 7.5 million people fall into poverty by 2030.

“Each one of us and every aspect of our world is being affected. Those who are most exposed and have the fewest resources to respond to climate change, however, are the most vulnerable,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP. She added that the integrated nature of climate change calls for holistic, multisectoral solutions as well as targeted support.

Fekitamoeloa Katoa ʻUtoikamanu, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Tourism of Tonga who was elected Chair of the 79th session, underscored that inclusive intergovernmental platforms such as ESCAP are a lifeline for the Pacific. “While the Pacific small island developing States contribute less than 0.03 per cent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, they are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In this regard, ESCAP is an important platform to advocate for regional and global action to achieve their climate goals.”

“The IPCC clearly demonstrates that the lower the emissions in 2030, the lower the challenge in limiting global warming to 1.5°C after 2030. Integrated planning, coherent policies, and economic stimulus investments designed to meet both the Sustainable Development Goals and climate challenges can generate significant co-benefits and speed up progress,” said Lachezara Stoeva, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

“We used to say that the choices we make will define the future for the generations after us. Now we have to say that the choices we make will decide whether there will be a future for the generations after us,” shared Csaba Kőrösi, President of the United Nations General Assembly. He added, “We are not lacking in ideas and plans; it is high time we realized them.”

Heads of State and Government from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Palau, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands also addressed the opening session. While voicing grave concerns about the complexities and growing threats of climate change on sustainable development, they expressed their optimism for shared solidarity and cooperation towards building a resilient, sustainable and prosperous future for all.

More than 880 participants from 61 member States, associate members and permanent observers as well as representatives from academia, international organizations, youth, business and civil society are attending the session this week.

It is expected to culminate on closing with the adoption of ten resolutions covering, among others, recommendations for accelerated climate action, ocean protection, environmental protection, disaster risk reduction, supporting countries in special situations, promoting digital cooperation and inclusion, the use of space applications for sustainable development, advancing sustainable urban development and launching a new decade of persons with disabilities.

Asia-Pacific countries adopted 10 UN resolutions reaffirming commitments to protect the planet and its people

Governments from across Asia and the Pacific endorsed a UN resolution to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. They re-committed to immediately curb greenhouse gas emissions – of which the region accounts for over half of the global emissions.

“The global climate fight will be won or lost in this crucial decade; in this context, the resolution demonstrates the commitment by countries in the region to take faster and bolder climate action to ensure that their climate goals are met,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP at the closing.

The resolution further recommends countries to promote clean energy technologies, regional power system connectivity, low-emission mobility, early warning systems and strengthened use of climate change-related statistics as part of crucial mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Nine other resolutions aimed at strengthening regional action and partnerships towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development were also adopted at the 79th session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), which was held in Bangkok from 15 to 19 May and drew over 1,000 representatives from governments and stakeholder groups.

Among others, the resolutions underscored commitments towards environmental protection; mitigating and minimizing the consequences of disasters in the water basin of the Aral Sea; supporting countries in special situations; promoting digital cooperation and inclusion; advancing the use of space applications; promoting disability-inclusive development; better understanding of the linkages between climate and ocean; and sustainable urban development.

Recognizing the transformative role of cities at the frontline of almost all global development and climate agendas, countries emphasized the positive contributions of national, subnational and local governments. They encouraged stakeholders to work together closely to develop impactful urban initiatives in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
Several of the resolutions at this year’s Commission also acknowledged the unique challenges of least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States in the region, who find themselves increasingly vulnerable amidst the impacts of climate change, geopolitical tensions, economic headwinds and the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report released to coincide with the meeting revealed that despite the clear benefits of connectivity in transport, energy and ICT, these countries in special situations lag far behind what other countries in the region have managed to achieve.

On the sidelines of the 79th Commission session, ESCAP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat signed a memorandum of understanding to complement each other’s strategic work on the SDGs, climate action and resilient development, social inclusion and equity, and regional economic and trade cooperation opportunities in the Pacific.

The race to net zero focuses on three key sectors from which greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced and how this can be done. It considers how the energy sector can end its dependency on coal and phase out other fossil fuels; how to support low-carbon mobility and logistics; and how international trade and investment can help accelerate the transition of the region’s industries to a low-carbon future. Concrete proposals are made as to how these major shifts can be financed and how better to measure challenges and progress green power corridor, low-carbon transport, and a low-carbon and climate-smart transition and collaborating on policies for climate-smart trade and investment, climate finance and monitoring.