What’s next for SDG 16+?
11 November 2019, Dili
I would like to start by thanking the organisers WFUNA, all the sponsors, the Government of Timor-Leste and participants at this 16+ Forum.
It is a great to see so many people especially all the representatives from civil society groups from many countries of the world attending this important Forum.
Over the next few days, we have a great opportunity to share experience, learn together and build new partnerships, as well as discuss and debate progress on SDG 16+. I hope that all participants will make the most of this opportunity.
It is especially good to see this event being hosted in Timor-Leste in this year which also marks the 20th Anniversary of the Popular Consultation in the country.
In July this year, Timor-Leste presented its first Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the High-Level Political Forum in New York. The VNR Report from Timor-Leste demonstrated the significant development progress that has been achieved in the country. It also noted the significant challenges remain for the country to achieve its development aspirations and make faster progress towards achievement of the SDGs by 2030.
Timor-Leste’s VNR report explains how Leaders and citizens in the country have sought to progress peace and security in the country and with neighbouring states. It also shows how these achievements have made it possible to progress other areas of development in the country (such as the provision of services to improve the well-being of citizens).
In August and September this year Timor-Leste celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Popular Consultation and it was especially good to acknowledge the work of many individuals (national and international) who made significant contributions to the country’s development over the past 20+ years.
As the world approaches 2020 and with only a decade to go before we reach 2030, it is sobering to note that globally the data that is available shows that the world is not making progress at the pace that is required for countries to achieve the SDGs.
At the current rate of progress, we will find that by 2030 there will still be many people, especially those most vulnerable such as people with disabilities, the elderly and many young people, who will continue to be trapped in poverty and remain vulnerable.
In almost all countries progress on the SDGs is lagging and in some places we are seeing previous gains that had been achieved being eroded as a result of a range of factors including: growing inequality; threats to civil society and human rights; the impact of climate change and natural/man-made disasters; the impact on bio-diversity and the environment; the erosion of trust in key institutions of governance; and new challenges to multilateralism.
So in response to the question (What’s next for the SDG 16+?), I think that several things need to happen for us to continue to make progress on the SDGs.
Firstly, we need the protect the gains that have been made over the past 2 decades. Secondly, we need to accelerate progress on each of the SDGs and to better understand the integrated nature of the SDGs. This requires strengthening existing partnerships and building new partnerships across sectors, institutions and disciplines.
Thirdly, we need not only to scale-up the work that is being done on all the SDGs but also to fundamentally re-consider the sustainability of our systems of production and consumption and their impact on the planet.
In Timor-Leste, in the next phase of the country’s development, we need to ensure that the progress that has been made in strengthening peace, security and electoral systems over the past 20 years, now needs to be enhanced by greater emphasis on strengthening institutional and individual capacities of all citizens (women and men, young and old). We need to continue to improve governance systems and the quality of public services. Central to achieving these things is the issue of gender equality and inclusion of all citizens regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, abilities or other factors.
In Timor-Leste we also need to strengthen human development by investing more in life-long learning (giving children the best possible start in life and ensuring that life-long learning becomes the norm for all) and we need to extend health coverage to improve the well-being of all citizens.
Greater investment in sustainable agricultural practices, food security and nutrition for all, as well as strengthening sustainable management of natural resources and building the resilience of communities to climate change. These things together with a stronger emphasis on sustainable growth patterns can help the country to accelerate progress and create economic opportunities and Decent Work for all.
This Forum provides us with a great opportunity to share experience and learn from each other. To reinforce existing partnerships and build new partnerships that can help accelerate development progress. I hope that over the next few days, each of us grasps the opportunities that we have. If we do this effectively, we can ensure that wherever we work, we will be better able to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs and create a more secure and equitable world for all.
UN Resident Coordinator
United Nations in Timor-Leste