Top Stories : Foreign Minister's remarks at the 3rd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025  and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development News

Top Stories : Foreign Minister's remarks at the 3rd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Opening Remarks by

H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai,

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand,

at the 3rd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025

and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

29 March 2019 at 09.00 hrs.

at Conference Room 4, UN Conference Centre, Bangkok



May I extend my greetings to Madame Co-Chair, Her Excellency Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Secretary of ESCAP,

Mr. Kung Phoak, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Socio- Cultural Community,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. It is with much pleasure that I warmly welcome you to the 3rd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development or the “Complementarities Initiative”.  With your support, I am confident that this year’s Dialogue will further advance our shared commitment to sustainable development cooperation here in ASEAN and to promoting synergies between our actions in the region and our efforts at the global level to attain the SDGs.
  2. I would also like to express my appreciation to our co-host, UN ESCAP, as well as ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat for your unwavering support for this Dialogue and the Complementarities Initiative. At the heart of our efforts since 2016 is ensuring that the twin processes of our ASEAN Community-building efforts in achieving sustainability and the promotion of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are indeed reinforcing one another. 
  3. These efforts will assume even greater importance this year as Thailand takes forward the ASEAN Chairmanship theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” of which sustainable development cooperation is critically important. In these endeavours, let me state at the outset that we would have not been successful were it not for the collective efforts of ASEAN in making sustainable development an important strategic priority of ASEAN and for the cooperation from our long-term partner, the United Nations and particularly UN ESCAP, who have made sustainable development cooperation and specifically the Complementarities Initiative a key driver for the Comprehensive ASEAN-UN Partnership. And to expedite our further efforts, we also need the cooperation of all interested external partners to take forward concrete projects on specific aspects of sustainable development. In this connection, I wish to welcome, as I note here, China, Japan and the European Union, who are joining our Brainstorming Dialogue for the first time.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Today I would like to focus on the “why” and the “how to” in advancing our partnership for sustainability to achieve the SDGs. Let me begin with the “why”.
  2. ASEAN has come a long way in its development path. Since its inception in 1967 to 2016, ASEAN’s per capita income has expanded 33 times.                   The number of people in absolute poverty has fallen from 138 million in the year 2000 to 44 million in 2015. In the last 25 years, the literacy rate among women has increased from 67 per cent to 93 per cent, and over the past 50 years, life expectancy has increased by 15 years to 70.9 years. Nevertheless, development gaps in ASEAN continue to exist and new challenges that               cuts across all areas have arisen. The wealth gap in the region has widened, accounting for 25 - 35 per cent of income inequality in Asia. At the same time, our people face unprecedented and transformative changes precipitated by the 4th Industrial Revolution or 4IR, the advent of a new digital age and other disruptive technologies, as well as global challenges of climate change and transnational crime, the latter of which generates some 100 billion USD in illicit activities in our region.
  1. The point is if we do not (1) consolidate the gains in our decades-long development efforts, (2) address development gaps and (3) ensure greater sustainability in the various dimensions of our policies, especially those related to growth and development, the ASEAN Community will be less able to capture the gains of the 4th Industrial Revolution and ensure a people-centred Community that leaves no one behind and is better prepared for the future. This will reduce the strategic value-added of ASEAN and its ability to contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity in a sustainable manner.    
  2. Therefore, building on the good work carried out under the Complementarities Initiative, I am convinced that we can do more to help address the gaps and challenges and to better prepare ourselves for a more sustainable future. In this regard, ASEAN and external partners should enhance our cooperation and figure out “how to” take forward the Complementarities Initiative in order to help ASEAN Member States achieve the SDGs. In this context, I wish to propose the following four actions to help us realise the “Sustainability of Things” or sustainability in all dimensions.   
  3. First is “putting people first”. People are at the heart of ASEAN Community-building efforts and the UN 2030 Agenda. To build a truly people-centred ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind, we need to prioritise the human dimension of development. ASEAN attaches paramount importance to promoting human capital development that applies to all age groups. This includes preventing malnutrition in children, skills enhancement for the workforce and establishing an ASEAN Centre for Active Ageing and Innovation for the ageing population.
  4. Second is “protecting the environment”. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without environmental sustainability, which is a key element in the Complementarities Initiative. In support of ASEAN’s efforts, this year, Thailand is pleased to host a number of important meetings to address environmental challenges that ASEAN is currently facing. These include the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meetings on Marine Debris and on Illegal Wildlife Trade held earlier this month and the ASEAN Meeting on Combating IUU Fishing in Partnership with the EU to be convened next week. These Meetings will provide concrete plans to inject an impetus to help advance our efforts in protecting the environment. The ASEAN Framework of Action on Marine Debris, for example, will guide our actions in preventing and reducing marine debris in the region.    
  5. The third crucial point is certainly “sustaining political commitment”. This is key to achieving the SDGs and the “Sustainability of Things”. The shared commitment between ASEAN and the UN has resulted in the Complementarities Initiative, and today’s meeting will develop a draft “Complementarities Roadmap” that will set out concrete actions to further advance the Complementarities Initiative.  We aim to submit the “Complementarities Roadmap” to the ASEAN-UN Summit this November.
  6. As the ASEAN Coordinator on Sustainable Development Cooperation since 2016, Thailand is determined to work closely with all ASEAN Member States and external partners to sustain and enhance our collective political commitment to advance the Complementarities Initiative.  And that is why, with the endorsement of ASEAN, the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD) will be launched in Bangkok at the 35th ASEAN Summit on 2-4 November this year.  The Centre is one of the deliverables of our ASEAN Chairmanship that reflects our political commitment to promote sustainable development. It will serve as a platform for coordinating and enhancing cooperation on sustainable development in the region and with the international community as well.  I would like to thank all involved for your support to the Centre, and invite all partners to develop concrete projects with the Centre.
  7. Certainly, the fourth important action is “promoting partnerships”. As stated in Goal 17, and reflected in Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”, effective partnerships are needed in this increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. The challenges facing the world have become increasingly complex. We therefore encourage partnerships and concrete cooperation between ASEAN, regional organisations and UN Regional Commissions, the UN Development System, the World Bank and other international organisations in the efforts towards achieving the SDGs for the region. The World Bank, for example, has been a key partner of ASEAN in taking forward initiatives related to human capital development, malnutrition and stunting and promoting enhanced regional connectivity. In this context, the contributions in the past year of our partners such as the Asia Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation are duly noted. Together, we can help narrow the development gap through concrete cooperative efforts, such as the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) and other sub-regional initiatives such as the ACMECS Master Plan.
  8. To better promote sustainable development cooperation in ASEAN, our people, especially our youth, need to understand its significance in order to support it. Raising public awareness and mobilising public support can be done through existing mechanisms such as the ASEAN Youth Forum. We can also prepare and equip our children and youth with the necessary skills for their sustainable future by incorporating elements of sustainable development in our school curriculum. In Thailand, we have mainstreamed sustainable development and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej that highlights a balanced way of living based on the principles of moderation, reasonableness and self-immunity, through initiatives such as those of the Young Ambassadors of Virtue Project. Various school projects and activities are implemented to help develop "moral and intellectual" qualities in students, and also prepare them to become sustainable development advocates in their communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,   

  1. Allow me to conclude by saying that the Complementarities Initiative is a healthy approach for sustainable development cooperation in ASEAN. It is also a model of South-South, triangular and multilateral development cooperation that we can share with other regions and interested parties.  With our collective commitments, I trust that the Complementarities Initiative, reinforced by a Complementarities Roadmap and the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue, will bring us a step closer to an ASEAN Community that leaves no one behind and to achieving the SDGs.
  2. Thank you very much for your participation. I certainly look forward to hearing from the Brainstorming Dialogue some valuable and concrete ideas on the “how to” step towards sustainable development cooperation and sustainability in our region.

I thank you.


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