The seventy-fifth session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) held its meeting this year from 27th – 31st of May, 2019.
The Commission session is held annually for both the ministerial and the senior official’s level to discuss and decide on important issues pertaining to inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the Asia and the Pacific region.
This year, Vanuatu’s delegation to the 75th Session of the ESCAP was led by the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) and the Minister of Tourism, Commerce, Trades and Ni Vanuatu Business, Bob Loughman.
The delegation consist of the First Political Adviser to the Ministry of Trades Mr Simil Johnson; DG Roy Mickey Joy from the Ministry of Trades; Mr Albert James, Policy Auditor at the Department of Strategic Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC) Prime Minister’s Office; Mr Mathieu Hervillard, Vanuatu’s Trade Commissioner to Thailand; and Mr Sanlan William, Head of United Nations and Economic Relations Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Theme for this year’s session was, “Empowering people and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality”.
Vanuatu was privileged to be part of the different side events during the commission session, one of which was organised by the Government of Japan, ESCAP and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) to discuss on “Community empowerment and participatory policy planning to reduce tsunami and water-related Disaster risk”.
DPM Loughman and other high-level representatives from Japan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Indonesia, and the Philippines discussed failures and success in their own countries in dealing with disaster affected populations.
The Deputy Prime Minister gave Vanuatu’s perspective on the issue by emphasising that small island nations such as Vanuatu are at the “frontline of the battle against climate induced and water related disasters”.
The Deputy PM went further to reiterate that “Vanuatu and other small island countries not only dependent on climate change reduction, but also on the actions of the global community who can help build a bottom up approach to ensuring no one is left behind.”
On Monday the 14th of May, DPM Loughman delivered Vanuatu’s country statement, stressing similarities between the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP), also known as 2030: The People’s Plan and the ESCAP’s theme for this year’s session and briefly highlighting some of the work Vanuatu has put in place in the areas of inclusivity & equality, education, climate change, justice and economy, keeping with this year’s ESCAP theme.
During the 75th Commission session, the Deputy Prime Minister also conducted a courtesy call to Mrs. Armida Alisjahbana, the United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, where the Executive Secretary reiterated her support for Vanuatu’s preparations for the Samoa Pathway midterm review later this year.
The delegation also stressed that despite Vanuatu’s imminent graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status in 2020, Vanuatu still seeks to work with donor partners and the international community to ensure smooth transition particularly with issues such as trade, capacity development and diversification of production.
The 75th annual Commission Session of ESCAP was an important opportunity for Vanuatu to share experiences with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on our shared progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.