Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown addressed global and regional leaders on Monday during the high-level opening of the 79th session of the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), held from 15 – 19 May at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

Guided by the theme “Accelerating climate action in Asia and the Pacific for sustainable development,” the annual session was an opportunity to strengthen regional cooperation on climate action, bringing together Leaders from across Asia and the Pacific, along with key stakeholders to discuss policy options and areas of regional cooperation required to accelerate climate action in the region and beyond.

Prime Minister Brown is attending as Cook Islands Prime Minister and Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), with the Cook Islands being an associate member of the UN ESCAP.

During his opening statement, Prime Minister Brown said, “The Blue Pacific has been grappling with catastrophic human-induced climate events for far too long, so as we seek to make an assessment today, the first step should always be to take a long, hard look at the state of wellbeing of our most vulnerable.

“The key to accelerating greater ambition to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, mitigate climate change impacts and promote sustainable development lies in finance – wealth, and for many of us here today, access to finance remains a critical barrier to our pursuits to accelerate climate action.

“For the Blue Pacific, our response is anchored in our 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent – our roadmap for Pacific Action that builds on our collective aim to achieve carbon neutrality in the Pacific by 2050,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“The 2050 Strategy is a collective vision that is deeply rooted in the Pacific context, amplifying our united voices in solidarity to support the delivery of action-orientated solutions, particularly in the context of accelerated climate action.”

As the Cook Islands prepares to host the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in November, Prime Minister Brown said that the Pacific Islands region, in close partnership with organisations like UN ESCAP, is preparing to finalise a clear, comprehensive, and coordinated implementation plan that will operationalise the Pacific’s pinnacle strategic plan for sustainable development.

“This not only requires new approaches and innovative solutions but fundamental reform of global cooperation and coordination… and fits squarely within the scope and objectives of this year’s Forum as we seek to foster collaboration, mutual growth, and shared success – to promote, partner, and prosper together,” said Prime Minister Brown.

“As (PIF) Chair, I welcome the strong alignment between our two organisations, ESCAP and the Pacific Island Forum. We share the same values and visions for our people and for the planet to promote prosperity and resilience for all in the Pacific. This relationship should continue to grow and to effectively deliver the results of our joint commitment.”
With dedicated discussions on catalysing climate finance and investments, complemented by a climate solutions exposition, the 79th session will allow Leaders to identify opportunities, share solutions and facilitate engagement of a broad set of partners and stakeholders to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, and foster ambitious climate action in Asia and the Pacific towards net-zero pathways, limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

It is expected that the session will finish on Friday, with the adoption of ten resolutions covering recommendations for accelerated climate action, ocean protection, environmental protection, disaster risk reduction, supporting countries in special situations, promoting digital cooperation and inclusion, the use of space applications for sustainable development, advancing sustainable urban development and launching a new decade of persons with disabilities.

The President of Palau as well as the Prime Minister of Samoa joined the rank of Pacific Leaders alongside Prime Minister Brown, to elevate and advocate the Pacific’s key messages for climate change action.

More than 880 participants from 61 Member States, associate members, permanent observers, and representatives from academia, international organisations, youth, business, and civil society are attending the 79th session of UN ESCAP this week.