Resident Coordinator Thailand’s Address for UN Day
Gita Sabharwal, Resident Coordinator Thailand’s Address for UN Day on 26 Oct 2020
It is a honour to address Member States and all of you in celebration of UN Day this year, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. As we know, Thailand has shown remarkable resilience in the face of COVID, and I truly feel fortunate to be here given global events. This is the first country that has assessed its pandemic response and how to improve it, including strengths within the public health system, civil society, and government. This can be replicated in other countries as part of their own response plans.
We face major challenges sustaining development gains, while strengthening national resilience to cope, adapt and transform, to turn crisis into opportunity. There is still much work to be done to fulfill the Secretary-General’s mandate to build back better, with a focus on inequality and a green recovery.
As we set up our SDG youth panel, I have been interviewing young people about what the SDGs mean to them. One young woman could not have been more clear: “It’s about collective survival, fear that we will die young, and inequality.” The United Nations has a collective responsibility to her and to her entire generation.
With government and civil society, UN Thailand is strengthening partnerships for innovation. During the pandemic, we have seen how important it is to find digital solutions, such as virtual learning, and to develop science-based responses. These principles of course apply to epidemics, but also to the climate crisis that affects us all, the symptoms of which we see every year in the haze and flooding in Thailand. We must also address gender, income and other inequalities that have often been aggravated by the pandemic.
As we look at the results of the UN75 survey, we get a clearer picture of the priorities of people in Thailand. When asked where we should be in 25 years, most responses focused on human rights, environmental protection, and better access to education. Respondents also cited climate change and environmental issues as the most influential trends for the future.
In addition, we need deeper engagement with the private sector, holding them accountable in sustainable development, in a mutual relationship in which we are equally accountable. ESCAP estimates that 50 baht per person per day would achieve the SDGs in Thailand. The private sector represented by the Global Compact Network Thailand, has already allocated 1.2 trillion baht in projects to advance the SDGs. Much more needs to be done.
To conclude, we know that youth engagement and leadership is absolutely essential for the future we want and the UN we need. We need to redouble our efforts in youth co-labs, find new ways to reach out to young people, and engage with them to find solutions to today’s development challenges. Most importantly, we need to listen to their voices and build partnerships to take meaningful action on the SDGs.
Given the ongoing situation in Thailand, it is all the more important to engage in dialogue and commit to mutual understanding.
Thank you all for your remarkable work this year and for your commitment to UN Thailand and the welfare of the country. We are eager to continue our partnerships in the year to come as Thailand celebrates its own 75th anniversary of participation in the United Nations. I look forward to listening and engaging with you all and the young innovators, in the regional dialogue on this important day.