UN forum opens with a resounding call to accelerate SDG action in South Asia

UN forum opens with a resounding call to accelerate SDG action in South Asia

The Seventh South and South-West Asia Multistakeholder Forum on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals opened today in Kathmandu, Nepal with high-level officials and representatives from various stakeholder groups reaffirming their continued resolve and shared commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event was co-hosted by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and National Planning Commission of the Government of Nepal, in partnership with UN Nepal and the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

Delegates further underscored the need to accelerate efforts to tackle the polycrisis faced in South and South-West Asia. Recovery efforts from the Covid-19 pandemic continue to be hampered by global geopolitical conflict and its impact on inflation, food security and energy. In addition, the effects of tighter monetary policy in developed countries in response to higher inflation are posing significant challenges to many developing economies, raising the likelihood of financial distress and exposing pre-existing vulnerabilities.

“The need to secure sources of financing and accelerated progress towards the SDGs remains of utmost importance. Here, the SDG stimulus will help countries by putting forward three areas for immediate action: tackling the high cost of debt and rising risk of debt distress, scaling up affordable long-term financing for development, and expanding contingency financing to countries in need,” said Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP opening the forum.

South and South-West Asia is currently not on track to achieve any of the 17 SDGs by 2030. While there has been positive progress on most Goals in the subregion, regressing trends have also been observed for Goals 13 and 14 related to climate action and life below water.

“We must intensify our efforts to achieve the lost ground on the SDGs. We need to focus on a new global blueprint with renewed measures,” said Hon. Dr. Ram Kumar Phuyal, National Planning Commission, Nepal.

Approximately 100 delegates from nine countries representing governments, civil society, the private sector and academic institutions are taking part in the Forum to share their views and provide recommendations on how to accelerate the progress towards Goal 1 (No Poverty), Goal 2 (Zero Hunger), Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) and Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

Daya Sagar Shrestha, Executive Director, National Campaign for Sustainable Development Nepal and Focal Point for Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism shared, “A human rights-based approach and development justice are instrumental to addressing the unprecedented crises.”

Chandra Dhakal, President, Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, further added, “To achieve the SDGs, we must create business-friendly policies that strike a balance between incentives and regulations ensuring transparency and accountability.”

During the thematic sessions over the next three days, the ILO, FAO, World Bank, UNDP and ESCAP will present key trends and challenges related to the Goals in focus for South and South-West Asia to stimulate stakeholder discussions. Participants are expected to identify priorities and develop recommendations on, among others, alleviating poverty and hunger for all, taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, building peace, justice and strong institutions, and promoting regional and subregional cooperation towards implementation of the SDGs.

The meeting is part of a series of five subregional forums which aim to inform, empower and support Asia-Pacific countries in their efforts to achieve the 17 SDGs and their targets by identifying subregional trends, as well as sharing best practices and lessons learned to take forward. Inputs from the subregional forums will also feed into the 11th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and global UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2024.

For further information: https://www.unescap.org/events/2023/seventh-south-and-south-west-asia-forum-sustainable-development-goals

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