April 7, 2021
With recovery from COVID-19 pandemic and sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific region high on the agenda, the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) joined forces on April 7 as they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their cooperation in the service of developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
The two also share the same overall objectives of promoting inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in the Asia-Pacific region. The new collaboration will assist countries of Asia and the Pacific to “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic – especially in the context of decarbonizing their economies by 2050, and support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Highlighting the similarity in priorities, AIT President Dr. Eden Woon pointed to the institute’s strengths in five thematic strategic focus areas, namely: Climate Change; Infrastructure; Food-Energy-Water; Smart Communities; Technology, Policy and Society.
“I am very glad that these are the areas that our faculty and students are very much involved in, and we are very glad to be able to work with you, because research is what we do best, and students are what we have, and the internship and the fellowship will also help them, so this MoU definitely is of benefit to AIT and I know it is also of benefit to ESCAP,” President Woon said.
Speaking of the MoU, Dr. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, commented: “In this MOU, we set forth the modality of our further collaboration and engagement to deepen productive collaboration on knowledge and capacity building across the Asia-Pacific region. We are committed to continue assisting countries in our region in these challenging times to build resilient, inclusive, and sustainable societies and meet the 2030 Agenda.”
Re-affirming their desire to work together for joint activities, AIT and UN ESCAP have outlined priority areas for the cooperation as follows:
- Disaster risk reduction, preparedness, mitigation and management;
- Space applications for sustainable development;
- Data and statistics, particularly application of new data analytic tools, methods and resources, including, but not limited to, advancing official statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, civil registration and vital statistics, and oceans statistics;
- Transport and climate change including energy efficiency in transport;
- Energy, including on (i) sustainable energy transitions, including in the areas of power system planning, regulation, modeling, and off-grid access (fourth industrial revolution and frontier technologies for power systems integration and renewable distributed energy resources); and (ii) implementation of SDG 7 in Asia and the Pacific;
- Natural resources for sustainable development; and
- Policy analysis to enhance fiscal space for building forward better economies.
With AIT’s long legacy of capacity building and well-established experience of working with economies in the region, the collaboration with ESCAP will also address challenges in the post-COVID era.
“We know that the world will be different, but we want to build back better,” President Woon added.