Good morning. It is a great pleasure for me to be here today and to extend a warm welcome to everyone in this Regional Policy Dialogue. I wish to thank the ASEAN SME Working Group as well as the US-ASEAN Business Council for their support in organizing this meeting. I would also like to thank the speakers and resource persons from the public and private sectors and from international organizations for their participation today. They are giving their valuable time to share their rich experiences, good practices, and successes in the area of women’s economic empowerment to help us recommend a strong agenda for ASEAN in the future.
It is great source of pride for me to be here and mark two decades of close cooperation between the United States Government and the Government of Ethiopia through the Ministry of Education and my agency, USAID. This collaboration to improve education quality and equitable access to learning have resulted in many more children in school, far fewer dropping out, improved student learning, and, very importantly, more girls in primary schools. So let me begin with congratulations to all of you and your predecessors on this very measurable progress.
Today, OTI’s legacy of success now stretches through 60 countries across the globe: From communities in Colombia free of the devastation of illicit drug trafficking… …To rural clinics in Rwanda saving thousands of children from malaria and malnutrition… …To vibrant schools in Indonesia, where a new generation of entrepreneurs, doctors, and engineers are preparing to lead their country towards a more prosperous tomorrow, for all of their citizens.
Wildlife trafficking undermines security and funds criminal networks. It seriously challenges national development by undermining economic growth and corroding the rule of law. Reductions in biodiversity have longer term consequences for development.
Buôn bán động vật hoang dã làm suy yếu an ninh và cung cấp tài chính cho các mạng lưới tội phạm. Hoạt động này đặt ra thách thức nghiêm trọng với phát triển quốc gia bằng cách làm suy yếu tăng trưởng kinh tế và làm xói mòn nền pháp quyền. Suy giảm đa dạng sinh học sẽ có tác động lâu dài đối với phát triển.
Of the many challenges we face as a global community – and there are many – health crises constitute among the most serious. Today, the headlines tell us of the toll that Ebola has taken in West Africa. Not long ago the world faced repeated outbreaks of SARS, multiple influenzas, not to mention the continued threat posed by HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, dengue, measles – I could go on. But I won’t. What I do want to point out is that our single greatest defense against these threats is our health workers. These men and women fight on the front lines every day at great risk to themselves to protect us. Helping them to become a coordinated, disciplined, qualified, and effective fighting force is what this gathering is all about.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to Bangkok for the Asia Urban Futures Workshop. I’d like to start by giving special thanks to our partners at UNDP, UN Habitat and UN Global Pulse, as well as to the USAID staff in Bangkok and Washington’s Global Development Lab who all worked so hard to make this Conference a reality. They’ve brought together two groups of key people who don’t get a chance to talk with one another as much as they might: first, outstanding experts from the technology and development fields; and second, city leaders and planners. I’m sure both will learn much from one another over the next couple of days about dealing with the challenges and opportunities with a rapidly urbanizing Asia.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is the first global comprehensive international instrument that protects and advances the rights of persons with disabilities, and it represents an important opportunity for Vietnam to express a united commitment to rights as it completes its first year as a member of the UN Human Rights Council. That opportunity was highlighted in the visits last spring by Senator Patrick Leahy and Special Advisor for International Disability Rights Judy Heumann, who play important roles in our bilateral cooperation.
I am profoundly honored by the invitation from the Embassy of Finland to make some remarks this morning at this roundtable. I would also like to thank Madame Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää, USAID Ethiopia Mission Director Dennis Weller and colleagues Michelle Chen and Demissie Legesse for making my participation possible. And it would be remiss of me not to thank my friend and comrade, Kalle Könkköllä.
Today’s ceremony is a testament to the resiliency and courage of those who refuse to allow crisis to deter them from the path of progress. In times of crisis, despite the danger and hardships, there is also great opportunity for communities to grow together and build back better.
Last updated: December 13, 2013