REMARKS: UNESCAP Exec. Sec. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana delivers FEMM2023 keynote

Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
and Executive Secretary of ESCAP
Keynote Address
2023 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting
Theme: Securing future prosperity for all people of the Blue Pacific Continent
Wednesday, 9 August 2023, at PIFS Conference Centre
10:00 to 10:10 hrs.

Hon. Mark Brown, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands and Chair of the
Pacific Islands Forum,
Hon. Ministers and Heads of Delegation,
Excellency Mr. Henry Puna, Secretary General, Pacific Islands Forum
Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, Participants,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed my honour to greet so many distinguished Pacific Ministers and
Representatives from the conference hall of the Pacific Islands Forum
Secretariat, the seat of regionalism in the Pacific.
And it is a privilege to be given this opportunity to share some of the learnings
from the wider Asia-Pacific region.
Today, the pandemic-hit economic recovery, the war in Ukraine and the costof-living challenges are constraining the sustainable development agenda.
These global exogenous shocks and climate risks have affected the regional,
national and community levels.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to a new and diverse set of solution-focused
actions and initiatives.
Policies to accelerate inclusive economic growth, social inclusion, and
climate-resilient development are now being integrated more than ever.
I welcome your reflection on three transformative policies.
The first is on advancing sustainability across economic development
Keeping alive the 1.5-degree goal is a matter of now or never.
But with the polycrisis, there is a growing temptation to delay climate action.
By incorporating sustainability into policymaking decisions and accelerating
green-blue public investment flows, several governments are embarking on
creating opportunities for jobs and productivity gains.
The public-private partnership modalities are increasingly mainstreaming
long-term sustainability in their investment plans.
In fact, several developing countries are expanding the use of sustainabilityfocused instruments to tap global and regional capital markets.
Promoting clean energy and climate adaptation financing are safeguarding
communities from the existential threat of climate change.
Central Banks are engaging to promote sustainability programmes around
their overall aim of securing price stability.
The second is on raising ambitions beyond economic growth.
Many developing countries are recovering better and faster by prioritizing
well-being and prosperity at all levels.

Growing investment opportunities are paving the way for structural
transformation and resilient-economic development.
It is recognized that the need to close social protection coverage gaps and
raise financing options for micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises
(MSMEs) as well skill development, even across countries with varying
capabilities and endowments.
Growing number of initiatives across developing countries are aiming at
improving inclusion and equity in the delivery of public services and
infrastructure development.
Social investments are being directed towards providing affordable
healthcare and quality education while reducing multidimensional
Growth ambitions are also being enhanced through strategic financing of
sustainable multi-modal transport connectivity, ICT infrastructure investment
and water and sanitation provisioning.
The third is on harnessing the potential of the digital economy.
The Asian region is advancing and fast-moving with the technological
This change is swift across several economies with the large-scale potential
to advance the digital economy.
Millions of consumers, including the youth, are moving online for their daily
needs, with the private sector investing to make digital solutions available
and within reach.
Digital solutions are pushing rapidly the advancement of youth
entrepreneurship including women entrepreneurship, access to finance and
accessibility of goods and services.
The role of Fintech to increase access to financial services across
developing economies, especially for financing of the MSMEs, is noteworthy.

Digitalization of these processes is substantially bringing down financial
transaction costs and raising efficiency gain with the use of technology that
could further support the development of the blue-green economy and
opportunities to secure financing for climate action.
There are opportunities for the Pacific to “leapfrog” learning from developing
and emerging countries, including in Asia, using the digital economy to
influence innovation and delivery of public services.
I am pleased to recognize that many of these policies and strategies are
taking shape in the development agenda of Pacific policymakers.
To align the economic possibilities around these development aspirations,
may I focus on some Pacific-specific messages.
I recognize that Pacific SIDS are unique, realities are different, and
vulnerabilities are ever changing and rising.
Pursuing time-bound implementation plans in line with Pacific priorities are
all but essential.
The Pacific way of balancing climate-resilient economic growth and
sustainable development must be recognized and championed.

Even though the volatile fiscal conditions and lack of investment-led growth
are creating challenges, we must not lose sight of ambition.
Investment in sustainable development is being delayed with the changing
landscape of creditors but let us commit to inclusive growth.
Technological innovations and digital finance may face barriers, yet Pacific
needs to leverage digitalization to bolster their economic potential
To address this urgency, key elements of the economic blueprints for
the Pacific are very clear.

On the sustainability of debt, we can leverage multidimensional
vulnerability, a measure to capture external economic and non-economic
shocks, to improve access to concessional finance and provide support to
Pacific SIDS in times of fiscal challenges.
Debt-for-climate swaps remain an important source of financing mechanisms
in the Pacific.
Regional development partners can work with official creditors to cut the high
transaction costs and shorten the lengthy negotiation process of these
Effective debt relief can free up space for investment in sustainable
On enhancing climate finance access and modalities, we must work on
developing pipelines of technically and financially sound projects that are
attractive to potential investors.
A set of stable project pipelines will greatly facilitate and accelerate access
to public and private sources of development financing.
Long-term programmatic approaches and domestic funding priorities have
to be at the core of bilateral and multilateral partners’ financing framework.
Digital transformation can further provide opportunities to invest in
accelerating climate action and accessing climate finance.
The proposal to develop a Regional Climate Finance Strategy for the Pacific
at the 2022 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting was a strategic and timely
Let us support inclusive and sustainable economic framework.
Our platforms provide you an opportunity to reinforce the role of sustainable
tourism and the creative economy, traditional knowledge-based sectors and
ocean ecosystems and livelihoods.

Policy actions must be centred around the development of climate-smart and
resilient agri-food systems through strengthening the value chain and market
And by catalyzing women’s entrepreneurship and improving digital inclusion
policies, there are new opportunities for the economic empowerment of
Finally, at the institutional level, the signing of the Memorandum of
Understanding with Secretary General Puna during his visit to ESCAP in
Bangkok in May this year signaled our commitment to further sustainable
development agenda in the Pacific.
We are steadfast partner in your journey to advance the priorities in the 2050
Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent.
I urge your continued leadership and commitment to more inclusive, resilient,
and sustainable development.

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