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Political leaders gather at annual UN policy forum in Bangkok to address widening inequalities in Asia-Pacific

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16th May, 2018 The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) opened its 74th session in Bangkok on 14 May 2018, with a strong call for strengthening multilateralism and regional integration to tackle rising inequalities in the region.

ESCAP is taking steps to advance more balanced, equitable growth in Asia and the Pacific by advocating for the strengthening of social protection systems, enhancing financial inclusion, raising education spending, reducing vulnerability to environmental hazards, and closing the ICT digital divide.

The 74th session of the Commission is being held under the theme ‘Inequality in the era of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ The CS74 theme study launched by ESCAP today assesses the region’s inequality trends and policy gaps across the three types of inequalities: outcome, opportunity and impact.

It finds that inequality of opportunity is persisting, despite average progress in accessing basic services. The report shows that had income inequality not increased in 10 countries in the region over the past decade, the Asia-Pacific region could have lifted close to 153 million people out of poverty. It also reveals which groups are left behind, or are disproportionately impacted by external shocks, such as natural disasters, and estimates how new technologies might further impact inequality trends in the region.

President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, H.E. Ms. Hilda C. Heine, who was elected as Chair of the 74th session, added that the theme of inequality is a powerful reminder of the importance of equality as an imperative to achieving the 2030 Agenda.

Leading the Tongan delegation to the meeting, the Minister for MEIDECC, Hon. Poasi Mataele Tei, emphasized that ..”synergies between the Pacific’s umbrella regional frameworks and strategies and those of ESCAP are critical to our work in addressing inequality, such as, the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development, the Framework for Resilient Development in the Pacific, the SAMOA Pathway, and the Asia-Pacific Platform for Sustainable Development.”

The Mid-Term Review  (MTR) of the SAMOA Pathway will be hosted by Tonga next month, which will be aligned with the Pacific Roadmap reporting processes.

Tongan delegation also include the CEO for MEIDECC, Mr. Paula P. Ma’u; Principal Assistant Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Ms. ‘Ilaisipa ‘Alipate; and Legal Officer of the Prime Ministers’ Office, Ms. ‘Elisapeta Lemoto.

More than 540 participants from 44 Member States and Associate Members are attending the 74th Commission session this week.


Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communications.


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