Remarks by H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand
at the Opening of the 8th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD)
“Sustainable and resilient recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in Asia and the Pacific”
23 March 2021 (via Video Message)
Madam Vice Chair,
Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Amina Mohammed,
Executive Secretary Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana,
President of ECOSOC Mr. Munir Akram,
- This year we meet again at a virtual Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s lives and economies across the world, constituting the greatest global public health emergency in our generation. It has illustrated our collective vulnerability to these so-called “black swans”.
- Thailand implemented several measures early on to prevent and protect against transmission. The cornerstone of this success has been our Universal Health Coverage and the mobilisation of over one million village health volunteers who help raise awareness and provide early warning and care for people in rural areas.
- Recently we have seen a positive development - vaccination programmes being implemented by a number of countries. Vaccination is now most likely the only means to enable us to resume our economic activities. To this end, vaccines must be treated as global public goods that become accessible to all. We must promote vaccine multilateralism and collaboration in order to achieve global public health security.
- The international community has come together and we are on our way to fostering a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient recovery. I would like to highlight three crucial issues that we must not lose sight of under the “New Normal”:
- First, prioritising transformative models will be the key. The pandemic has shown us that business as usual will not suffice. Homegrown development approaches have a vital role to play in reviving our economies and societies, as well as our quest to achieve the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
- The Sufficiency Economy Philosophy has been Thailand’s homegrown development approach and guiding pathway towards SDG achievement. In emphasising moderation, resilience, and the application of technology and innovation in development, it has proven its value over these trying times in empowering people and communities to ensure inclusive and balanced growth for all, an experience that Thailand is willing to share with interested partners.
- Second, digitalisation will become the core of the “New Normal”. It has the capacity to advance human development in all areas, especially in the fields of health and well-being and distance education. Yet, we must ensure that no one is left behind by the digital divide. We must increase access to the internet and digital tools to all, including the most vulnerable. We must also ensure digital literacy for all, especially those farthest behind.
- Third, there is opportunity in every crisis. We must not allow our eagerness for economic recovery to reverse the remarkable environmental gains during this pandemic. As countries came to a standstill, nature has been revitalised. Thailand aims to promote a Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) economy model which supports a green and innovation-based economy that ensures sustainability through a balance between value creation and environmental conservation.
- Thailand looks beyond and forward to building on these themes at the United Nations and other international fora, including the upcoming BIMSTEC as its Chair later this year and during our Chairmanship of APEC in 2022.
I thank you very much.