BANGKOK, Apr. 23 (Xinhua) - Government leaders and policymakers from Asia-Pacific countries assembling here on Monday pledged to embrace digital opportunities and tap into emerging technologies and digital innovation for sustainable development.

The prime ministers of Thailand and Cambodia, and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu were among the some 800 participants of the 80th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) convened to deliberate on digital pathways to accelerate the region's sustainable development.

"Intelligently deployed and properly governed digital solutions, based on a common understanding, shared approaches and collaborative governance, form the foundations for the collective push necessary for the attainment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of ESCAP, said in her opening speech.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin noted that for many agriculture-based countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Thailand, digital transformation is critical to ensuring food security for all.

"We need to leverage digital technologies to promote agricultural innovation. This will help to ensure a sustainable food system, climate-smart farming, and environmental sustainability," he added.

In a speech at the general debate, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu noted that in the face of complicated situations, all parties should practice multilateralism, promote an equal and orderly world multipolarity and inclusive economic globalization, and work together to build an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future.

He emphasized the need to adhere to opening up and cooperation to further promote the process of regional economic integration, to stay committed to innovation-driven development to maintain the stability and smoothness of industrial and supply chains, and to create an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory innovation environment to fully unleash the potential of economic growth.

In addition, he called for strengthening the synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Global Development Initiative with the ESCAP agenda to inject strong impetus into Asia-Pacific connectivity as well as inclusive and sustainable development.

Participants at the meeting discussed how to take full advantage of the digital innovation while guarding against potential risks, calling for carrying out inclusive policies to bridge the digital divide and persistent inequalities, properly addressing issues such as cybersecurity and data privacy, and strengthening regional cooperation to ensure that digital innovation benefits all.

Taking place from April 22 to 26, the 80th session of the ESCAP is guided by the theme Leveraging Digital Innovation for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.

ESCAP, founded in 1947, is the regional development arm of the United Nations in Asia and the Pacific, representing more than 60 percent of the world's population.

Photo from Xinhua