73rd session of the ESCAP Commission Session South Asian countries

73rd session of the ESCAP Commission Session
South Asian countries underscore centrality of regional cooperation for sustainable energy and the achievement of the SDGs

Seven countries from South and South-West Asia participated in the 73rd session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held in Bangkok from 15 to 19 May 2017. The yearly Commission provides a platform for member States to discuss policy issues and key challenges towards achieving inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Asia and the Pacific. The session was held under the theme ‘Regional cooperation for sustainable energy’ and placed particular emphasis on how greater economic cooperation and integration can help achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).Below are salient points from South Asian member States’ country statements delivered at the above Commission session (Ministerial segment). Highlights pertain in particular to the implementation of the SDGs, sustainable energy and the importance of regional cooperation to address common challenges and scale up progress. Full text of the statements can also be accessed from the below links.

  1. Afghanistan
  • Incorporated the SDGs and targets into its National Peace and Development Strategy, and identified and integrated priority areas in the strategies of eight economic and social sectors.
  • Oversees development in all SDGs through the Ministerial Council. Prepares the National SDG document, coordinates among sectors, and reports annually to Council and the cabinet through the Ministry of Economy.
  • Aspires to serve as an energy transit corridor between Central Asia and South Asia.
  • Aspires to serve as cross road between South and Central Asia, particularly in light of recent developments such as the belt and road initiative, the Central Asia-South Asia power project (CASA-1000), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) gas pipeline project, five nations railway, digital silk road, etc.
  • Regional Economic Integration is one of the five pillars of Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework.
  • Aims to open ways for more dialogues and expend regional cooperation.
  1. Bangladesh
  • Declared ‘Vision 2021’ for transforming the country into a middle-income country by 2021.
  • Formed ‘SASEC’, together with India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka, for initiating cross border electricity trade and utilizing hydro power potential of the subregion.
  • Needs a huge amount of investment and a smooth and steady flow of development assistance from valued development partners for achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda.
  • Prepared climate change strategy and action plan which also need huge investments and an easy and adequate access to climate funds.
  • Earns remittance as one of the largest receiving countries in the world. Yet stringent measures undertaken by host countries might create a setback in the country’s remittance earning capacity.
  1. Bhutan
  • Welcomes the Regional Road Map for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.
  • Captured the 17 SDGs (with the exception of Goal 14) in the country’s 11th Five-Year Plan, which is due for completion is June 2018. Currently finalizing the 12th Five Year Plan (2018-2023), based on nine domains of Gross National Happiness that also integrate 16 of the 17 SDGs.
  • Emphasizes a significant concern about the economic vulnerabilities on the graduation track of least developed countries (LDCs), including Bhutan, such as narrow economic base, over reliance on a single sector for revenue, threat of natural disasters, and impacts of climate change etc.
  • Considers that promoting knowledge exchange, best practices, and sharing experiences between graduated and graduating countries could be of particular value.
  • Fully committed to an energy transition towards clean and sustainable energy as a response to climate change.
  • Regional trade and cross border trade in energy requires building of trust through political commitment, investment in infrastructure, the removal of institutional barriers and the normalization and harmonization of standards and regulations.
  1. India
  • Finalizes 15-year Vision Document and 7-year strategy for post five-year plan that ends in 2017. The documents have at their core, the integration of the SDGs into the national context.
  • Plans a mapping of the SDGs to specific national programmes, priorities and targets, and embodies the spirit of the SDGs to India’s development transformation, tailoring them to India’s development needs.
  • Aims to double farmers’ incomes by 2022 through investment in agricultural productivity and extension to promote higher value commodities and sustainable increases in yield and crop intensity.
  • Implements “Skill India” mission and “Make in India” programmes for increasing vocational skills and productive employment.
  • Improves and expands the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act that provides 100 days of essential employment to those living in poverty.
  • Commits to national electrification of villages and cities by the end of 2018.
  • Raises awareness and capacity for sub-national SDG integration, into state and local government plans, programmes, targets and expenditures. The support of the UN Country Team in India, including ESCAP is recognized.
  • Supports initiatives related to regional economic cooperation and integration towards a South Asia Power Grid and South Asia Market for Electricity Trade in Energy Sources-Oil and Gas.
  • Committed to active cooperation to develop the two Southern-Central Asia trunk corridors identified by ESCAP as integral parts of the Asian Highway and Trans-Asian Railway networks.
  1. Nepal
  • Addresses the possibility of a subregional cooperation among LDCs for fostering localized innovation.
  • Includes the use of renewable energy in the strategies of the ongoing 14th Periodic Plan.
  • Recognizes the potential of clean hydropower for satisfying the energy demand in Nepal. Envisions an increase in hydropower production capacity to 2300 MW within the next three years, an amount sufficient enough to export to South Asian countries within the next decade.
  • Emphasizes that the adoption of a regionally coordinated market mechanism by the public and private sectors for accelerating green growth could address the challenges relating to technology transfer, finance and the capacity building needs.
  1. Pakistan
  • Aspires to establish a universal, affordable, efficient and sustainable energy architecture at the national and regional levels through its comprehensive policies on energy security in terms of National Development Strategy: Vision 2025.
  • Aims to establish Pakistan Climate Change Council to prepare and supervise implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects.
  • Launched a Green Pakistan Programme to increase natural resources through afforestation.
  • Develops new regional energy projects such as CASA-1000 and TAPI.
  • Implements a Renewable Energy Resource Mapping activity across the country through Alternative Energy Development Board of Pakistan.
  • Establishes connectivity in the region such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of the pilot projects of the belt and road initiative.
  • Considers that achieving the SDGs along with regional integration, reinforced by UNESCAP’s guidelines and several regional and subregional initiatives of connectivity in Transport, Energy, Climate Change, ICT, Trade and Economics and other sectors is the best option to leave no one behind.
  1. Sri Lanka
  • Achieved the lower-middle income status, and seeks upward movement by using many socio-economic reforms, including enhanced fiscal management policies.
  • Considers that ensuring energy sufficiency and access is also a vital component in drive towards economic prosperity.
  • Achieved providing almost 100% of households with access to affordable and reliable electricity at all times.
  • Implements a mixed renewable energy generation system, comprising, hydropower, solar, wind, biomass and agriculture based energy, which amounted to 49% of all national electricity needs in 2015.
  • Aims to launch a development program in the coming years to implement effective measures to ensure sustainable energy to meet the country’s future demand.
  • Emphasizes the importance of sharing experiences and supporting Research and Development among member States in addressing technological and other related issues in harnessing renewable energy and sustainable energy resources.

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