Statement by H.E. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations at the Briefing on the work of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), 12 July 2021

I thank you, Mr. Chair, for giving me the floor.  [and good to see you Ambassador]

Excellencies, Madame Executive Secretary, Distinguished Colleagues – good evening from Dhaka; and good morning to friends in New York.

I thank the Executive Secretary for her comprehensive briefing on the 77th session of the Commission, and the 8th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. I am very pleased to note the many important developments in the region and the initiatives being undertaken by ESCAP.  I take this opportunity, Madame Executive Secretary, to commend you and your team, for your excellent support during this unprecedented crisis.  A warm welcome Ms. Rosa Malango.

The theme of the 77th session “Building back better from crises through regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific” was very timely.  For the second consecutive year, my Prime Minister had joined the session virtually.  This demonstrates the importance that Bangladesh attaches to regional cooperation and to ESCAP’s work. Prime Minister/She highlighted some of the fundamental challenges facing the region and called for greater solidarity within the region and beyond to tackle those.

The 8th APFSD (Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development) progress report on SDGs implementation in the region provides a sobering picture. While there has been some progress in the areas of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 and 17, progress remains too slow or stagnant for half of the goals; while progress has regressed on critical goals on 13 and 14.

We need a bold and ambitious regional roadmap to put us back on SDGs track and ensure a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will count on ESCAP to undertake more vigorous efforts to foster and strengthen regional and cross-regional cooperation and collaboration. Allow me to share some specific thoughts in this regard:

First, for a Covid-19 free world, we must ensure universal and affordable access to vaccines. We reiterate our call for immediate transfer of vaccines technologies to the developing countries. Bangladesh is ready to contribute to mass scale vaccine production if technical know-how is shared with us. We wish to work more closely with our partners to ensure vaccine equity for all in the entire region.

Second, enhanced access to financing is critical to ensure accelerated growth, poverty alleviation, and job creation in the developing countries. We appreciate the G-20 extended DSSI and IMF’s additional SDRs allocation. We need more such initiatives towards enhanced ODA, fiscal stimulus, and concessional finance by advanced economies, MDBs, and IFIs.

We also need to harness the untapped potentials of the region in the areas of intra-regional trade, connectivity, MSMEs, re-skilling of workforce, etc.

Third, the pandemic has had a drastic impact on migrant workers and global remittances flow. Many remittance receiving households were forced into poverty and economic hardship. It is imperative to support the migrant workers during this crisis and help integrate them better in the post-Covid job market.

Fourth, the special needs of vulnerable countries, such as LDCs as well as the graduating countries need to be factored in to ensure that no one is left behind.

We are now preparing for the negotiations of the outcome document of the LDC5 conference, which I am co-chairing with the Permanent Representative of Canada. Notably, out of 12 LDCs in our region, 10 are on graduation track. We have a tremendous opportunity to help all the LDCs in our region to graduate by the end of this decade. [And] I am pleased to note ESCAP’s priority and engagement in this regard. We wish to see enhanced support and solidarity from our regional partners to chart out an ambitious roadmap for LDCs for the next decade.

Fifth, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed both the benefits of digital services and the stark digital divide across countries and societies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put more than a billion of children out of school. Many of them do not have the resources and technological access to join online classes. More than ever before, access to online and distance learning; and digital inclusion should be our top priority now. Digital learning and education should be immediately declared a global public good. We wish to work with our regional partners to rally support and resources to make that happen.

Finally, the Covid-19 has brought to the fore the inadequacy of the global response to the climate and bio-diversity emergencies.

Bangladesh as the president of the 48-member Climate Vulnerability Forum will remain engaged with all stakeholders for resilience building against all forms of climate emergencies. We urge the advanced economies to come up with bolder commitments to tackle climate change in the Glasgow COP.

I shall rest it here and thank you once again for organizing this briefing.

I thank you all.