ASEAN Secretariat, 20-21 October 2010

Representatives from the National Statistical System and Focal Points on MDGs of ASEAN Member States

Mr. Timan Hecker, the IT Expert of EASCAB Programme

Representatives from ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training

Facility (ASEAN-US TATF) and ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme (AADCP), GTZ, GOPA

Representatives from the ASEAN Centre of Excellence for MDG (ARCMDG)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

On behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat, I would like to welcome you to the Regional Workshop towards an ASEAN Statistical Report on the MDGs, and express my appreciation to all of you for your participation in this workshop.

The Millennium Declaration adopted by the world leaders from 189 nations and signed by 147 Heads of State in September 2000 promised, among others, “to free our fellow men, women, and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected to”. With more than 1.4 billion people in the world still living below the international poverty line in 2005, around 110 million of whom live in ASEAN in 2007, poverty alleviation and narrowing the development gap lie at the heart of ASEAN Community building along with our effort to establish a single market and production base for a prosperous and highly competitive region; peace, security and stability; and a number of other important goals of the ASEAN Community. A stable, secure and prosperous ASEAN Community can be realized when our people are free from hunger and are adequately provided with primary education as well as health care.

The eight goals and 21 targets of the MDGs are very relevant to and many of them coincide with the Community goals of ASEAN. ASEAN is committed to addressing poverty from various dimensions: economic, social, and political-security. ASEAN acknowledges the importance of and is committed to expediting the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 to ensure economic growth and sustainable development. Peace, security and stability are among the key goals of the ASEAN Political and Security Community as they are important pre-requisites to economic well being and social development.

Under the ASEAN Socio and Cultural Community, as reaffirmed by the Leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Cha-am, Thailand, in March 2009 in the Joint Declaration on the Attainment of the Millennium Development Goals in ASEAN, ASEAN is committed to ensuring a continuous effort towards a balance between economic growth and social development and environmental sustainability in order to reduce and avoid creating negative impacts to the attainment of the MDGs.

ASEAN is committed to implementing the Framework Plan of Action on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication, the Work Plan for Primary Education and Gender Equality, the Work Plan on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and many other initiatives that are in line with the 8 goals and 21 targets of the MDGs. Furthermore, ASEAN is also committed to establishing a monitoring and evaluation system, including generation of gender statistics for the attainment of MDGs in ASEAN in collaboration with the UN specialized bodies.

Statistics plays an important role in monitoring as well as planning and decision making. In a more evidence-based and result-oriented ASEAN integration, statistics has a crucial role in facilitating ASEAN integration and accomplishing the ASEAN Community’s goals. Proper planning, policy-making and decision-making are not possible if they are not supported by relevant, reliable and comparable statistics. Without quality statistics, we cannot measure our progress and we cannot properly assess how ASEAN has been doing or how ASEAN integration has benefited its people, industries and economies.

The ASEAN Secretariat has developed its statistical capacity from scratch commencing in the year 2000. Currently, a good collection of macro-economic statistics, including national accounts, international merchandise trade, foreign direct investment, tourism, as well as social statistics have been available. A more comprehensive collection of indicators on MDGs and other social indicators, however, would require more time and effort to compile. With different levels of social and economic development among the ASEAN Member States and the need to narrow the development gap within ASEAN, compilation of ASEAN MDGs indicators becomes even more important as it can highlight the development divide and help identify areas in which greater efforts are required to narrow the development gap.

The ASEAN Secretariat, therefore, welcomes the initiatives to bring together the national MDGs focal points and experts to this workshop. We are pleased that some of our key stakeholders such as our distinguished participants from the ARCMDG, and Dialogue and Development Partners are attending this workshop. Their presence lends support to ASEAN’s efforts to embark on building statistical information on the MDGs indicators.

Five years from the target date for the Millennium Development Goals, this initiative to explore the feasibility of coming up with regular ASEAN statistical report on MDGs has never been this crucial. I hope this workshop could help the ASEAN Secretariat confirm the feasibility of having a regular report of MDGs indicators and come up with sound outline for the report.

I am also pleased to announce that ASEAN will soon be establishing a new high level surveillance office for monitoring regional integration which has been endorsed by the ASEAN Finance Ministers late last year. To better align statistics collection, analysis, and policy support, the Statistics Section under the Research, Information Services and Statistical Division of the Community Affairs Directorate has been transferred to the high-level surveillance office to be directly overseen by the Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community. Such a transfer will not preclude the Statistics Section from dealing with MDGs and other social indicators. The office will support the statistics requirements of all the three pillars of the ASEAN Community.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the EU and the EU-ASEAN Statistical Capacity Building (EASCAB) Programme for its continued support, including the in the feasibility study of the ASEAN Statistical Report on MDGs, and its commitment to the follow-up actions. I also appreciate EASCAB’s effort to engage the right expert in the field for this purpose.

I would also like to invite other ASEAN dialogue and development partners, including the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility and the AADCP to look into the possibility of supporting the ASEAN Secretariat in establishing a system of regular statistical report on MDGs. This initiative is not only relevant to the ASEAN Community goals but also consistent with the global initiative on MDGs and poverty alleviation.

In closing, let me underscore the need for strong commitment from all parties concerned without which we cannot achieve our shared objectives of this initiative of ASEAN.

I would like to now officially declare the Regional Workshop towards ASEAN Statistical Report on the MDGs open. I wish you all a

very fruitful workshop.

Thank you.