Statement by Acting Resident Coordinator and UNFPA Country Representative

3 June 2016

Below is the statement by Acting Resident Coordinator and UNFPA Country Representative Mr. Alain Sibenaler, at the Ministry of Sustainable Development & Wildlife's event: National Sustainable Development Platform and the Transformation Dialogue on June 3rd 2016

Thank you for your invitation and the opportunity to address this distinguished audience today. I am excited by the objectives of this event, a timely and relevant initiative bringing into sharp focus the importance of visions, pathways and partnerships for implementing the 2030 Agenda.

If you may recall, the paradigm shift that commenced as far back as 1987 with the Brundtland Commission and the subsequent deliberations, made us look at development in a holistic manner recognizing the interconnectedness between different aspects of development relating to the economic, social, political and environmental.

Development challenges that confront societies are interconnected. The processes relating to eradicating poverty, reducing inequality, achieving economic equity, ensuring gender equality, realizing human rights, ensuring environmental sustainability, managing equitable distribution of resources, etc. are interlinked. None of the above can be achieved in isolation of the other and one process cannot undermine or override the other. 

However, we observe that often, processes relating to socio-economic development and global sustainability are at loggerheads and trade-offs are often made between growing world population, higher standards of living and managing the effects of production and consumption on the global environment.

The new development paradigm seeks to address this very anomaly by integrating development and environmental considerations into a comprehensive framework of goals and associated targets demonstrating that it is possible, and necessary, to develop integrated targets relating to food, energy, water, ecosystem etc.

The Agenda 2030 integrate principles of equality, social justice and sustainability across all sectors and look for integrated solutions beyond sector based solutions and targets. As such, the overarching framework of the SDGs rests on economic progress underlined by strong environmental safeguards held together by the glue of ‘peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development'. SDGs place a greater focus on environmental issues together with specific goals on inclusivity, women's empowerment, peace and democratic governance.

The President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena addressing the 70th General Assembly in September last year assured the world leaders that the Government of Sri Lanka anticipates achieving the SDGs fully by 2030. In particular, he said "sustainable development is not about sectoral or group-wise isolated development, but an inclusive model of development that is capable of uplifting development standards globally".

We, in the United Nations remain encouraged by these commitments and currently formulating a common UN Framework for implementing SDGs in Sri Lanka. Our engagement would come within the MAPS (Mainstreaming, Accelerating and Policy Support) Framework to ensure effective and coherent implementation support leveraging on the system-wide expertise in diverse areas falling within the 2030 agenda. We would be paying special attention to cross cutting elements of partnerships, data and accountability

We will be engaging with the Government in landing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the national and local levels and integrating into national, sub-national and local plans for sustainable development and subsequently into budget allocations. Subsequent to the planning process, we hope to support in targeting national (and UN) resources at priority areas identified in the mainstreaming process, paying special attention to bottlenecks in reaching the most vulnerable, synergies and trade-offs across sectors (reflecting the integrated nature of the agenda), financing partnerships, and measurement. 

We would bring in the system-wide expertise, and ensure that the skills and expertise held in the UN system would be made available in a timely way and at the lowest cost possible.

Two weeks ago, UNDP Sri Lanka kick started a dialogue in partnership with the government and the private sector on the importance of foresight and innovation as a value to traditional development planning to achieve sustainable human development and the 2030 agenda. This made us reflect on how futuristic thinking, real time responsiveness to policy making would create a development sector that is forward looking, considers alternative futures, visionary in planning national and local development projects and develop resilient policies.

Addressing the Summit the State Minister for National Policy and Economic Affairs, Hon. Niroshan Perera reiterated that the National Summit on Foresight and Innovation for Sustainable Human Development 2016, is a good starting point for Sri Lanka in the internalization of the Agenda 2030. He emphasized that Sri Lanka needs to review its existing policies, planning methodologies and set the national targets in line with both the SDGs and national development priorities to ensure more holistic and sustainable development of the country.

Needless to say that the implementation of SDGs require collective action of all stakeholders at all levels. This emphasize the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships, the committed and concerted efforts of government at all levels, development partners, private sector, civil society and the academia. It requires a ‘whole-of-government' approach and a clear shift away from working in ‘silos'.

I would like to end this short address by reaffirming the UN system's commitment to supporting Sri Lanka in its path to achieving SDGs by the target year.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers for this wonderful initiative to transform the enthusiasm for a sustainable way of life into concrete actions through vision, pathways, policies, strategies and partnerships. 
I thank you once again for the invitation and giving me an opportunity to address this audience.

I wish this initiative great success!