Dhaka Forum Explores Partnerships for Asia Pacific Integration, SDGs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The 13th Asia Pacific Business Forum explored ways that science, technology and innovation (STI), infrastructure development and human resource development can bring about new forms of partnerships for to promote regional integration and achievement of the SDGs.

Convened by ESCAP and the Government of Bangladesh, with the Bangladesh chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Bangladesh), the forum also addressed ways business can be involved in DRR, adaptationto climate change, low-carbon energy infrastructure, and trade and transport.

9 February 2017: The Asia Pacific Business Forum explored ways that science, technology and innovation (STI), infrastructure development and human resource development can bring about new forms of partnerships for regional integration and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Wencai Zhang, Asian Development Bank (ADB), noted that while Asia’s economic growth has been driven primarily by individual economies, “now is the time” to focus on the benefits of doing business across borders.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Government of Bangladesh, with the Bangladesh chapter of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Bangladesh), jointly convened the Forum from 8-9 February 2017, in Dhaka, on the theme of ‘Regional Integration to Achieve Sustainable Development.’

The President of Bangladesh, Mohammed Abdul Hamid, highlighted the role of businesses “of all sizes” as the principal agents of trade and investment. Shamshad Akhtar, ESCAP Executive Secretary, called for deeper partnerships with businesses based on “multi-dimensional” South-South cooperation. Zhang said the private sector stands to benefit from the ADB’s plans for increased financing and collaboration with companies through co-financing, equities, credit guarantees and risk transfer mechanisms, especially in the areas of transport technology, renewable energy, and telecommunications.

The Forum brought together over 500 high-level participants from government, businesses and international organizations, including Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), former Global ICC Chair Victor Fung, and the ministers from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Sampa Banerjee, Executive Director of the World Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME), highlighted the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in alleviating poverty and generating employment, and called for providing SMEs with technology, information and skills to overcome problems they face in becoming part the global value chain, such as payment delays, obsolete technology and insufficient use of information and communication technology (ICT) and lack of compliance with international standards. WASME is a global non-profit organization headquartered in India.

Participants at the Forum also recommended ways in which businesses can be involved in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and adaptation to climate change, investing in low-carbon energy infrastructure, and facilitating trade and transport. The Asia Pacific Business Forum is an annual event for public-private sector dialogue around sustainable development aims. The Dhaka gathering was the 13th such forum. [ESCAP Press Release] [ADB Press Release] [ICC Bangladesh Forum Webpage] [WASME Press Release]

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