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Poverty, Ageing and Tsunami Focus of Meeting

Poverty Reduction, Ageing and Tsunami Recovery Focus of UN Asia-pacific Meeting

New York, May 12 2005 4:00PM

The sixty-first session of the United Nations commission for Asia and the Pacific opened today in Bangkok, Thailand, with member delegations joining experts for discussions that touched on poverty reduction, the region's rapidly ageing populations and economic recovery after last year's devastating tsunami.

Opening the session, Kim Hak-Su, Executive-Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said prospects for the region in 2005 indicate a slowdown in economic growth as the external environment weakens but "increased macroeconomic stability and external strength should enable ESCAP economies to withstand most shocks while working to reduce poverty."

With these challenges in mind delegates discussed a variety of issues under the session's theme, "Implementing the Monterrey Consensus in the Asian and Pacific Region: Achieving Coherence and Consistency." The Monterrey Consensus is the landmark agreement adopted by the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development. It calls for the resources to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the conditions that will enable freer trade, more foreign investment, debt relief and efficient government.

The session is scheduled to run through 18 May and will, among other things, aim to mobilize the international community to raise crucial investment in the social and economic infrastructure of small Asia-Pacific countries. The ministers and senior officials from 62 member and associate countries and territories will also discuss pro-poor growth, identification and promotion of good practices, strengthening the capacity of poor communities, and provision of basic services and tourism for the poor.

The Commission's Special Body on Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries, which met in Bangkok early this week, appealed for increased efforts to facilitate the movement of labour for cross-border supply of services, especially among the low-skilled, in order to spur economic growth for the poor. The body representing the region's poorest countries also called for "meaningful commitments" from countries affected and requested ESCAP to study how to facilitate the intra- and inter-regional movement of labour.

Meanwhile, the 2005 Asia-Pacific Business Forum is set to open tomorrow in the Thai capital, with more than 300 participants from 20 countries joining UN delegations to discuss the role of corporate responsibility and improving the climate for business in the wake of the 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

Following the opening ceremony of the three-day meeting there will be a signing ceremony where 10regional business interests will join the UN Global Compact. The Compact, an inter-agency initiative launched by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2000, calls on corporations, large and small, in any country, to observe the four declarations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) upholding corporate responsibility and five other principles involving the environment and human rights.

ENDS

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