Press Release : Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, at the 2nd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 30 March 2018, at 9.00 hours, United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok news3

Press Release : Opening Remarks by H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, at the 2nd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 30 March 2018, at 9.00 hours, United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok

Madam Co-Chair, Her Excellency Ms. Shamshad Akhtar, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of UN ESCAP,
His Excellency Mr. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio-Cultural Community,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I wish to begin by expressing my appreciation to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) and the ASEAN Secretariat for their steadfast and dynamic partnership with Thailand and ASEAN Member States over the past two years in taking forward the Complementarities Initiative.
2. May I take this opportunity to pay tribute, in particular, to Madam Executive Secretary for her strong support for ASEAN's efforts to mainstream the development agenda into the building of the ASEAN Community as early as 2015, even before the ASEAN Community was launched.
3. Today, as last year at the inaugural High Level Dialogue, the raison d'être of the Complementarities Initiative remains unchanged. And that is to create synergies between two important processes: the realization of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 on the one hand, and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on the other. In essence, it is to help ensure that no one in ASEAN is left behind.
4. Our collective efforts, undertaken within the framework of the ASEAN-UN Comprehensive Partnership, are part and parcel of the broader ASEAN development story. And this has been a successful ASEAN story.
5. The poverty rate in ASEAN was 47 percent in 1990; it is now 14 percent in 2015. Undernourishment was 30.4 percent in 1991; it is 8.9 percent in 2016. Life expectancy improved significantly, from 56 years in 1967 to 71 years in 2016.
6. Much of these gains were the result of sustained economic growth and development, which has produced a GDP per capita within ASEAN that has increased from 122 US dollars in 1967 to 4,021 US dollars in 2016.
7. But many challenges to development for ASEAN remain.
8. There continues to be development gaps between countries and income gaps within countries. Some studies have shown that such gaps are widening rather than decreasing. Vulnerable groups continue to benefit the least from the gains of development within ASEAN. And despite great progress in nutrition and food security, malnutrition and stunting continue to be a problem in ASEAN Member States, a finding presented to this very body last year by the World Bank, one of our key institutional partners.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
9. The Complementarities Initiative thus remains relevant, and I would say even vital, to the continuing sustainability of the ASEAN community building process and the efforts of ASEAN Member States to attain the Sustainable Development Goals. It supplements national efforts and helps reinforce multilateral efforts, particularly through SDG 17.
10. With the close cooperation between ASEAN and UN ESCAP, and with the strong contributions of partner countries and organizations, we have made significant progress.
11. The Report of the Complementarities Initiative was presented to the ASEAN-UN Summit in Manila last year and will be officially launched today. It contains a number of concrete recommendations, one of which Thailand will officially take forward today.
12. There have been concrete projects in the priority areas as agreed to by ASEAN and UN ESCAP, from resilience to infrastructure and connectivity to sustainable consumption and production. We look forward to the reports that will be presented later this morning.
13. Indeed, resilience is one of the key themes of ASEAN this year, under the chairmanship of Singapore, and sustainable development is expected to be one of the priorities to be endorsed by ASEAN Leaders when they meet next month.
14. And there have been other achievements beyond the Complementarities Initiative that have complemented the good work we are doing in this forum. One example is the new policy level dialogue on sustainable development between ASEAN and the EU that I launched with Commissioner Mimica here in Thailand last November.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
15. More still needs to be done.
16. In this connection, we welcome the continuing support and contributions of both current partner countries and organizations, as well as new partners, in particular the Sectoral Dialogue and Development Partners that are present with us today.
17. As we continue to take forward sustainable development cooperation within ASEAN, spearheaded by the Complementarities Initiative, I wish to offer three concrete proposals. I hope that these three points will not only sustain the strong momentum that we have here but also, more importantly, help ensure that the benefits of development flow to the people.
18. First, Thailand plans to establish an ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue so as to provide some institutional support to sustainable development cooperation within ASEAN. The establishment of the Centre was one of the key recommendations of the Complementarities Report that I mentioned earlier.
19. The Centre will be funded by the Thai Government, building on the existing Centre for Research on Sustainable Leadership at Mahidol University. The Centre will help coordinate activities and projects related to the Complementarities Initiative, while linking up with similar centers in ASEAN Member States to form a network of centers in support of regional sustainable development efforts. These include the ASEAN Institute for Green Economy in Myanmar and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
20. Thailand will work closely with ASEAN Member States to launch this Centre by 2019. I wish to thank the EU for already giving its support to the Centre and would welcome project ideas for the Centre from other interested partners. And I hope Sectoral Dialogue Partners of ASEAN may be particularly interested in the Centre as well.
21. Second, Thailand is ready to work with partners and particularly the private sector to develop concrete plans to promote sustainable consumption and production. This could include, for example, measures to reduce food waste and promote green lifestyles, on the consumer side, as well as innovative smart solutions to industrial production. Such plans could be part of the activities developed through a network of Smart Cities in ASEAN and Dialogue Partners that is expected to be launched this year.
22. To take this forward, Thailand is prepared to work with interested partners as well as the private sector to host a workshop on sharing best practices and promoting smart solutions for sustainable consumption and production in our region.
23. Third, Thailand is prepared to work with all partners to develop a two year roadmap of concrete deliverables for the Complementarities Initiative that will help guide our work for the rest of 2018 to 2019. This will help ensure continued, strong momentum in our collaborative efforts, help minimize overlaps of activities and promote synergies across the priority areas of the Complementarities Initiative.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
24. The sustainable development undertaking is a never ending story. It will require persistent multi-stakeholder efforts, both within and across boundaries, and linking of efforts at the local, national, regional and global levels.
25. As ASEAN Coordinator on Sustainable Development Cooperation, Thailand remains a steadfast partner to all of you represented here in these people-centred endeavors. And as Chair of ASEAN next year, Thailand will continue to lend its strong support to concrete policies and projects that will help ensure that no one is left behind in the ASEAN Community and beyond.
26. Thank you very much.