Asia-Pacific countries endorse UN move for joint regional action on COVID-19

BANGKOK, May 22 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Governments of Asia and the Pacific at a meeting on Thursday agreed to pursue coordinated and decisive actions, as well as reinforce cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.  

Endorsing a resolution at the 76th Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (CS76), governments declared profound solidarity and vouched to provide unimpeded support and technical assistance to those most affected, particularly in developing countries with weaker health systems and vulnerable populations.

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres said governments and leaders are grappling with a wide range of challenges that risk recent progress in the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.

“Many countries are charting a solid course toward COVID-19 solutions, but millions in the region remain highly vulnerable and at risk.

“We have an opportunity to build back better on the foundations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said at the opening of the annual regional assembly, held via a virtual platform.

The online session drew active participation from over 264 delegates representing 54 of the Commission’s 62 member States and associate members, along with eight additional observer countries.

UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP),  Armida Alisjahbana, said countries face an unprecedented dilemma: the need to balance measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic against those for socio-economic recovery when addressing health crisis.

“In order to support countries in building back better, refocusing our work is necessary,” she said.

She highlighted three priority areas – supporting economic recovery, protecting people and enhancing resilience, and restoring supply chains and supporting small and medium enterprises, while urging countries to align policies with environmental protection and climate action.

All leaders expressed their optimism that recovery will provide the opportunity to strengthen resilience and build a more equal, inclusive and sustainable Asia-Pacific region.