Asia-Pacific Ministers Vow to Advance Regional Cooperation to Support SDG Agenda

24 November 2017

Government ministers in Asia-Pacific have committed to support implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda. At the Second Ministerial Conference on Regional Cooperation and Integration (RECI) held in Bangkok, Thailand, the ministers, along with high-level officials, adopted the ministerial declaration to support the SDG Agenda.

The declaration asked the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) to continue its support of RECI and help strengthen partnerships with institutions that promote RECI. The conference was jointly organized by the UNESCAP and the Asian Development Bank.

The ministers vowed to work together to promote market integration by striving to reduce trade costs through trade facilitation, develop transport, energy and ICT cooperation, and addressing shared risks related to environmental degradation, and climate change. They said RECI should be consistent with the SDGs in contributing to social progress and environmental sustainability.

"Over the past three decades, RECI has benefited our region significantly—powering trade, economic growth, and stability. To help arrest the growing discontent with globalization and to dispel unfounded criticisms of free trade, global value chains, and labor migration, RECI must be inclusive," said Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, UNESCAP Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary. "It must contribute to reducing rising inequalities by offering opportunities for marginalized countries and people."

"Priority assistance must be given to countries with special needs—including through capacity building and technical assistance—to ensure they can take full advantage of deep economic integration," Dr. Akhtar added.

Participants noted that the approach to cooperation and integration must be rethought—from frameworks that tend to be "growth-centric" to an approach that takes considers social and environmental dimensions.



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