Connections E-Newsletter Issue 18, May - June 2015  

ENEA Office Participates in ESCAP's 71st Commission Session
25 - 29 May 2015, Bangkok, Thailand

The 71st session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific was held from 25 to 29 May at ESCAP Headquarters in Bangkok. The theme for this year’s session was ‘Balancing the 3 dimensions of sustainable development: from integration to implementation,’ with emphasis on balancing and integrating the economic, social and environmental aspects of development.

To ensure that they make good on their commitment to the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the Commission resolved to set up a new Committee on Energy. The new Energy Committee will assist the member states in developing strategies towards attaining internationally agreed development goals on energy and to enhance energy security.

In addition, the Commission also agreed to create ESCAP’s 6th regional institution, the Asian and Pacific Centre for the Development of Disaster Information Management in Iran in recognition of the fact that disaster risk reduction can bring inclusive and sustainable development. The new Centre will help reduce risks and damages from natural hazards by building the capacities of countries in the Asia-Pacific, and strengthening regional cooperation on information sharing and management of disaster risk reduction.

Moreover, the Commission pledged to strengthen the “unfinished agenda” of intraregional and interregional connectivity in the region by reinforcing cooperation in developing their strategies on maritime transport, international railways and Information Communication Technology (ICT) connectivity infrastructure.

Presentation by the ENEA Office

At the 71st Commission Session, the head of the ENEA Office presented to the member states and partners of ESCAP the work and achievement made last year. Mr. Ramakrishna highlighted the fact that the ENEA Office has positioned itself as the subregional hub for multilateral cooperation and built a number of partnerships with diverse stakeholders to bridge the development gaps in social, economic and environmental areas. He added that the ENEA Office has cooperated closely with non-governmental development actors, including other multilateral organizations and research institutes, to ensure that they deliver results. 

The role of the ENEA Office in North-East Asia
The role of the ENEA Office in North-East Asia 

As for the specific programme areas and achievements of the ENEA Office in 2014, Mr. Ramakrishna gave examples for each of the economic, social and environmental dimension of the Office’s work. He briefed the Commission on the tangible progress made on facilitating dialogue between China, Mongolia and the Russian Federation on a trilateral agreement for transit transport by road along a pilot route.

In terms of social policy, the head of the ENEA Office mentioned the launch of a subregional knowledge-sharing platform for building sustainable ageing societies in North-East Asia in 2014. Building on this platform, the ENEA Office plans to create a forum of researchers, practitioners and policymakers in North-East Asia for the purpose of reviewing population ageing trends and related policies.

With respect to environmental sustainability, the ENEA Office shared with the Commission that NEASPEC (North-East Asian Subregional Programme for Environmental Cooperation) has launched programs designed to tackle transboundary air pollution and dust and sandstorms in addition to its ongoing work on nature conservation and low carbon cities.

Upon hearing the presentation, the representative of the Republic of Korea, the host country of the ENEA Office, reaffirmed that the Office will have ROK’s continued support for its work. Mongolia expressed their appreciation for the technical assistance it has received from ESCAP in the areas of cleaner and environmentally sound technologies. The country asked ESCAP and the ENEA Office for further support with regards to technology transfer.

The ROK also requested the ENEA Office to continue its environmental initiatives, such as the Asian Carbon Footprint Network. China expressed its appreciation for the North-East Asia Development Cooperation Forum, which is an annual forum the ENEA Office launched in 2014. Japan highlighted areas of further cooperation among the countries in North-East Asia, specifically in the areas of disaster statistics and remote sensing of disasters. 

ROK Supports Opening of Accessibility Centre at ESCAP 

Ribbon-cutting at the new accessibility centre at the ESCAP Conference Centre
Ribbon-cutting at the new accessibility centre at the ESCAP Conference Centre

The ROK government made significant contributions to set up a state-of-the art Accessibility Centre at the ESCAP Conference Centre in Bangkok, which opened its doors on 28 May during the 71st Commission Session. The Accessibility Centre is aimed at supporting the participation of persons with disabilities in the UN intergovernmental processes and meetings.

ROK’s contributions for the Centre were made through its Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Centre features electric wheelchairs, desktop magnifiers, screen readers and eye trackers among others. It is the first regional facility within the UN system in the world and an important contribution to the implementation of the Incheon Strategy to ‘Make the Right Real’ for Persons with Disabilities in Asia and the Pacific 2013-2022 as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Mr. Taeho Lee (the third person from the left in the photo above), Deputy Minister for Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of ROK, attended the opening ceremony and said: “Korea is making the utmost efforts to promote the rights of persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific. The rights of persons with disabilities can only be ensured when they are all able to join every activity regardless of their types or degree of disability.”

ESCAP Executive Secretary, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, welcomed the opening of the Centre, saying that the people of Asia-Pacific should work together to create a ‘truly inclusive and sustainable society,’ where there is room for everyone to contribute. Her emphasis on the fact that persons with disabilities must be seen, heard and counted on equal terms is aligned with the UN’s Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda, which stresses that development should be inclusive for everyone.

The Centre is cited as an important milestone in moving towards a more inclusive and rights-based society for all 650 million persons with disabilities in Asia and the Pacific.
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