President at Nikkei Forum: Asia needs a single voice at 2023 UN Climate Change Conference



President Wickremesinghe at the Nikkei Forum

A single Asian voice devoid of disharmony needs to be present at 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28), President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, addressing the Nikkei Forum on the Future of Asia in Tokyo.

“The success of this conference will depend on the ability of the key Asian nations to come to an agreement,” President Wickremesinghe said.

President Wickremesinghe also highlighted Asia’s significance as the world’s largest economy, home to 60% of the global population, and a major contributor to global growth. He emphasized the region’s potential for continued growth, supported by China’s recovery, India’s domestic demand, and the contributions of advanced economies like Japan and South Korea

President Wickremesinghe added that there are three major challenges facing Asia. Democratic values and human rights, climate change, and trade integration are key challenges, he said.

The President said the importance of respecting the diverse political systems and definitions of human rights across Asian countries.Wickremesinghe emphasised that Asia had become the global economic powerhouse and the most dynamic region with its economy already comparable in size to Europe and North America’s economies

Wickremesinghe also spoke of trade integration and debt sustainability and highlighted the risks faced by Asian countries, stressing the importance of upholding the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core, rejecting economic coercion and decoupling.

Asian countries did not want to be forced to choose between big powers and highlighted the economic interdependence between ASEAN countries and China and expressed opposition to the bifurcation of Asia, he said.

President Wickremesinghe said he supported a cooperative approach by Japan and called for open-ended dialogues among Japan, China, India, and ASEAN, adding that it is crucial for the emergence of a peaceful and prosperous Asian region.