Presiden RI Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Assalammu’alaikum Warrahmatulai Wabarakatuh
Excellencies Leaders of the Pacific Countries,
Dr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary UNESCAP,
On behalf of the Government and people of Indonesia, I am pleased to extend our warmest welcome to all of you here in Jakarta.
We are honored and humbled to host this Ministerial Meeting of the 62nd session of United Nations-Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the “Pacific Leaders United Nations ESCAP Special Session”, known as the PLUS. And yes, I am very honored to address what is certain to be a conference with the longest title in the history of my Presidency. (Reading the title alone takes up half my speech !)
I am particularly delighted to see the Leaders of the Pacific Nations in our midst this morning. I would especially like to acknowledge my counterparts from fellow island nations : President Anote Tong of Kiribati, President Kessai Note of Marshall Islands, and Prime Minister Matie Toafa of Tuvalu.
I also recognize Vice President Redley Killion of Micronesia, Vice President Elias Camsek Chin of Palau, and Deputy Prime Minister Sato Kilman of Vanuatu. Thank you, Excellencies, for honoring us with your presence here today.
We are all gathered here to help advance the greatest project humanity has ever embarked on : the global pursuit of Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
This project is much more ambitious than the LAST great project of humanity : namely, the march towards freedom, emancipation, equality and independence that spread throughout our planet at the last century, including here in the Asia Pacific.
That, of course, was a great struggle for freedom that drained our blood, toil and tears. And it was, in my view, a struggle that defined the 20th century. It permanently changed the world political landscape, and restored the dignity of man.
But the 20th century has also taught us that the dignity of man is not just about freedom and independence. The full dignity of man is attained when he is liberated from poverty, ignorance, injustice, deseases, intolerance, and conflict.
And that is why the quest for Millenium Development Goals is a more difficult struggle. It is an ambitious struggle to spread opportunity and hope more evenly throughout humanity, with concrete practical objectives, and with a clear timetable.
We are all aware of the bleak statistics about the state of our world today : Half the people on this planet living on less than $ 2 a day. 800 million are affected by hunger and malnutrition. Over 600 million having no access to safe water. 115 million children out of school in developing countries. And so on.
These statistics break our hearts, but they do not bend our will.
For I am convinced that our great struggle to accomplish the MDG targets by 2015 is well within our ability to reach them.
For example, achieving universal primary education by 2015 is estimated to cost US$ 10 billion per year. That is equal to what European spends to buy ice cream every year.
Ensuring basic health care and nutrition for all humanity would cost US$ 13 billion per year. That is less than what the US and Europe spend on pet food.
Installation of water and sanitation for all would cost US$ 9 billion plus. This is miniscule compared to the US$ 780 billion that the world spends on military spending.
And remember : a few decades ago, we successfullly eradicated small pox from the face of the earth, with a price tag of only US$ 17 billion. Think of all the lives saved with that relatively small investment.
Simply put, we DO have the resources to achieve the MDGs. What is needed is the sustained political will and a strategy to find and allocate the necessary resources.
Our gathering here today brings together leaders and officials from over 50 member-countries and associate members of UNESCAP.
The member countries of ESCAP have followed different paths to economic and social development, with different results. But notwithstanding the different models, there is one critical lesson that stands out from the past decades : the key to progress lies in good governance.
I would even venture to say that this is a universal lesson that applies to any society, irregardless of ideology, political system, economic size, history, culture.
Governance, indeed, is the ideology of the 21st century. If we employ it well, it will resolve our national problems, harness our potentials, and turn weakness into strength. With governance, the global community will all be able to reach and exceed the targets MDGs by 2015.
Another key lesson is the value of cooperation and partnership.
Unlike the days when ESCAP was first established in Shanghai in 1947, today our region has seen a proliferation of cooperation networks, at the regional, sub-regional and inter-regional levels.
Today, we need to intensify that cooperation and partnership because our problems are becoming more similar and more inter-related. We notice that these days Governments and their citizens are having difficulties figuring out what to do with the phenomenon of globalization, a powerful force that has no driver and no direction.
In my travel to Indonesia’s provinces, I have met many good people who feel left out by globalization, and unable to understand globalization let alone how to take advantage of it. But I have also met some people who saw through the haze and smoke, and found opportunities and tools of empowerment in globalization, which they argue have brought a more level playing field to citizens of the world. Information and communication technology, for example, can revolutionize education, can redefine the life of the individual, and empower communities.
In fact, I do believe that if the 20th century was an era of BIG IDEAS —nationalism, capitalism, socialism, industrialization—the 21st century is an era where change will be forced by SMALL GADGETS. Cellular phones, wallet-size TVs, digital cameras, the internet, cheap laptops and palmtops, USB cards, nano technology, and even low cost airline carriers : all these will change the individual, will change the way societies function, will change the concept of distance and borders, and will change the history of mankind.
I hope ESCAP can play a role in helping Governments and citizens to figure out how to embrace this very powerful force of globalization gracefully and intelligently. And of course, when you do figure it out, please advise me.
Aside from globalization, we in the Asia Pacific also need address one emerging social issue of our time : tolerance. Most of the world’s conflicts today are internal conflicts, and most of these internal conflicts are related to ethnicity or religion or both.
And economic marginalization, social dislocation, globalization, religious orthodoxy, narrow nationalism—all this will add greater urgency to the promotion of tolerance.
I would even venture to say that “development” today is NOT JUST about poverty alleviation, or about protecting the environment, or about sustainability. Development in the 21st century is also about tolerance building. UN- ESCAP can help communities in this region achieve the kind of social progress that make them a bastion of resilience and tolerance, where diversity is celebrated as a source of strength and dynamism. This, of course, requires countries and communities in this region to redouble efforts to reach out to one another.
Cooperation and partnership therefore is a practical strategy to be relentlessly pursued. After all, our region does have a unique set of potentials, dynamics and opportunities that can be used to innovate and mobilize resources.
Last year, in August 2005, the same Asian and Pacific countries gathered here in Jakarta, in this same venue, and declared our commitment to accelerate efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for our region. We also requested this Commission session of ESCAP to devise a modality and roadmap to help countries in our region fulfill their MDGs by 2015.
I am particularly glad that this 62nd session of ESCAP will focus on enhancing regional cooperation on infrastructure development, including infrastructure related to disaster management.
I believe that to be meaningful, infrastructure development must be in line with the principle of “infrastructures for all.” It should ensure widespread social benefits and improve the quality of life of all our people, including the poor, especially those in remote rural areas. That is how we partner with the poor in the drive to achieve the MDGs.
And it is a fact of life that our region is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. We recently experienced a horrible natural disaster when giant tsunami waves crashed on the shores of the Indian Ocean, killing hundreds of thousands of people, including over 200,000 here in Aceh and Nias, Indonesia.
Today, the devastated communities are going through a rebirth. We have also produced a historic peace deal in Aceh which we hope would permanently end a bloody conflict that has lasted 30 years. While the tsunami is now behind us, we must not forget our duty to save future generations from another terrible disasters. Let us therefore intensify regional collaboration on disaster management.
Aside from a shared vulnerability to natural disasters, Indonesia is linked to the Pacific region in many positive ways. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago, and we have ancient historical and cultural links with the Pacific region. The languages we speak belong to the Austronesian family. We are therefore sympathetic to the plight of island nations and familiar with the enormous economic and environmental pressures they have to bear.
That is why Indonesia is well positioned to serve as the Pacific’s gateway to Asia. And that is why we are one of the founding members of the South West Pacific Dialogue, and are actively involved in the Pacific Island Forum as a Dialogue Partner.
When the Pacific Islands Leaders adopted the Pacific Plan in October 2005, the region acquired a way of translating into reality its vision of regional cooperation and integration.
The promotion of economic growth, sustainable development, good governance, and security—these are all important pillars of the Pacific Plan. In these same areas, we in ESCAP are also hard at work. By collaborating in these areas, ESCAP members, and the Pacific Islands nations will strengthen regional cooperation to manage globalization.
Let me now highlight a number of areas, in conclusion, where our Asian-Pacific partnership can be most useful:
First, human resources and cultural heritage, the most significant assets of the small islands, are under severe strain. Our partnership must open up every opportunity for capacity development to realize their full potential.
Second, for several decades now, the Asian region has been an economically vibrant region. Our partnership must expand the scope of that dynamism to include the Pacific—by forging closer Pacific-Asian trade and investment relations.
Third, we in Asia and the Pacific are in a unique position to develop ideas and take initiatives toward the fulfillment of long-standing international commitments.
Fourth, work on gender integration should be enhanced as this is critical to the achievement of sustained economic growth, particularly in the sector of micro, small and medium enterprises.
I should like to see Indonesia sharing with our Pacific Islands friends our experiences in such fields as micro finance, human resources development and agriculture.
Finally, the plight of small islands and the challenges they face should now be the major concern of ESCAP Regional Advisory Services and Regional Subsidiary Bodies.
What we need now is concrete action to flesh out our strategy, to pool and make use of our resources—and to give meaning to that partnership. The deliberations of this unique and unprecedented meeting should lead to that concrete action.
With that thought, and by saying Bismillahirahmanirrahiim, I declare this Pacific Leaders’ United Nations ESCAP Special Session and the Ministerial Meeting of the Sixty-second Session of ESCAP, open.
I thank you very much.