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3rd Session Committee on Environment and Development,UNESCAP

​​The Coordinator and staff of Asia RCU attended the third session of the ESCAP Committee on Environment and Development (CED 3), which was held at the headquarters of the Commission in Bangkok from 29-31 October 2013.

The session was attended by representatives from members and associate members of ESCAP, UN funds and programmes, intergovernmental bodies, as well as  representatives of civil society and other entities. Opening remarks were delivered by the Deputy Executive Secretary of ESCAP and the keynote address was delivered by the Adviser to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Thailand.

The main focus of discussions at CED 3 was on the regional follow up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development and preparations for the development agenda beyond 2015. In that regard, the Committee supported the ESCAP secretariat's proposal to hold the first regional preparatory meeting for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2014. The CED was of the view that the region's sustainable development agenda be periodically evaluated to ensure proper implementation and that the  outcomes be properly addressed while setting the post-2015 development agenda, taking into account the needs of least developed, landlocked and small island developing states and the voices of vulnerable groups.

The Committee recognized the importance of the Seventh Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, planned for 2015, as well as the regional preparatory process for Habitat III, to be held in 2016, and urged the secretariat to establish a contact group to facilitate consultations among member states on the timing, venue, substantive focus and organizational modalities of these two events.

The CED also recommended that the 70th session of the Commission in 2014 endorse the outcomes of the Asian and Pacific Energy Forum (held in Vladivostok, Russian Federation, in May 2013), namely, the Ministerial Declaration on Regional Cooperation for Enhanced Energy Security and the Sustainable Use of Energy in Asia and the Pacific, and the Plan of Action on Regional Cooperation for Enhanced Energy Security and the Sustainable Use of Energy in Asia and the Pacifix, 2014-2018.

On the final day of CED 3, the ESCAP secretariat organized a side event dialogue: "Towards Effective and Meaningful Civil Society Engagement in Sustainable Development Processes in Asia and the Pacific". Some 40 participants attended this lively event, representing CSOs and other entities, UN funds and programmes (UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNEP, WHO, UNCCD and UNDESA (by videoconference). A representative from the Asian Development Bank also attended. Much of the discussion centered around the role and engagement of  CSOs in the process of developing the post-2015 agenda. Complicating matters were the financial constraints involved in securing participation of Asia-Pacific CSOs at meetings held at UN Headquarters as well as the last- minute decisions often taken by the Inter-sessional groups under the Steering Group. In addition, questions remained to be resolved on the role of major stakeholders in the intergovernmental process.
It was felt that the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM) chaired by ESCAP could provide a useful platform for CSOs to input to the development of the post-2015 agenda in areas of shared interest. CSOs could also contribute at the operational level to the work of the 8 Thematic Working Groups under the aegis of the RCM. Certain issues, e.g., the role of CSOs in implementing UN projects/activities at country level as well as relationships between CSOs and Governments (as voiced by some of the UN funds and  programmes present) would, however, need to be addressed.


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