Asia-Pacific Policymakers Highlight Initiatives for a Sustainable Future
Jul 17, 2017
Countries share early experiences in advancing SDG agenda on the first day of the Ministerial Segment at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development.
By Elena Tischenko, Chief of Country Office Liaison and Coordination Division in the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP Headquarters
Senior policymakers from Asia and the Pacific exchanged experiences and learning on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in the region, identifying key achievements and challenges in attaining the goals by 2030, and underscoring the role the United Nations can play in supporting their countries.
The discussion took place at an event organized by a number of Asia governments in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme during the UN’s High Level Political Forum.
Its purpose was to compare notes among the countries that embraced the Sustainable Development Goals and were keen to share and learn from the get-go.
It was clear that SDGs implementation is picking up pace in the Asia-Pacific region, bringing to light promising approaches but also challenges.
Secretary J.S. Mathur of the Indian Ministry of Panchayati Raj, dealing with 255,000 rural local governments in India, stressed the centrality of the principle of ‘no one left behind’.
He focused on the challenge of building capacity of three million elected representatives to plan and effectively utilize funds (amounting collectively to USD 31 billion) for improved service delivery.
A follow-up meeting the next day, between the Secretary and UN Resident Coordinators and UNDP Directors for Asia-Pacific and for Policy and Programme Support, led to concrete ideas on how UNDP and Indian government can collaborate further on SDGs, especially in the areas of communications outreach, innovation and motivation of public service.
Speaking of Malaysian experience, Datuk K. Yogeesvaran of the Economic Planning Unit in Prime Minister’s Department explained the governance structure for implementing 2030 Agenda in his country.
Thailand illustrated the experience of the National Economic and Social Development Board in road-mapping SDG actions across all levels of governance. Reflections from Japan encompassed the perspective of the Ministry of Environment about multi-stakeholder partnership shared by Yasuo Takahashi and the views of other stakeholders through the lens of the business sector and civil society presented, respectively, by Masaya Futamiya of Sompo Japan Nipponkoa, and Koichi Takahashi of Japan Food Ecology Center.
In its wrap-up, the meeting sent important global messages expressed by Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. Leaders called for accelerated action, intensified partnerships in Asia and worldwide, and bringing in innovation. UNDP’s global role as facilitator of the knowledge exchange and a part of the catalytic, methodological support of the UN Development Group, is translated into actions unfolding in the region.
In his concluding remarks, UNDP Regional Director Haoliang Xu laid out some of them, such as Government-to-Government Dialogue on Financing the SDGs coming in August and Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development in November.
Notably, on the same day at HLPF Japan pledged, in the announcement made by Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, to provide USD 1 billion in aid for children and the youth around the world over the next two years as part of efforts to achieve the SDGs.
During her twenty-three years with UNDP Elena Tischenko served in UNDP country offices in Central and South-East Asia, as well as in UNDP and UNV Headquarters. Elena assumed the post of Chief of Country Office Liaison and Coordination Division in the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP Headquarters, from 1st October 2014.