The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), today kicked off the 2020 Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development & Capacity Building Workshop for Pacific SIDS.
The Forum, convened since 2017, is a platform to voice and advocate for Pacific regional issues and to build capacity for reviewing and implementing the SDGs. Outcomes from the Forum will shape discussions at the 2021 High Level Political Forum, through the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD).
At the opening, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, Ms. Armida Alisjahbana remarked, “The COVID-19 crisis is having a profoundly adverse impact on the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals, adding greatly to the ongoing existential crisis of climate-related disasters in the Pacific. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has largely spared the Pacific people due to the swift implementation of containment measures, it is causing significant damage to the Pacific island economies.”
Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, stated, “Regional responses on the economic and social impacts of COVID–19 are underway that will provide policy options for our leaders. Indeed, we as a region must work together to accelerate progress in several goals such as quality education - Goal 4, climate action - Goal 13, life on land – Goal 15, and of course the Ocean SDG, Goal 14, life below water”.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Sanaka Samarasinha recognized that “the current twin challenges facing the planet of the COVID 19 pandemic and the climate crisis offer a unique opportunity to form a new alliance for inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery. As we look at providing much-needed support to economies in the region we must be mindful not to simply revert to the old normal of inequality, injustice and the mindless destruction of the planet. Instead, together we can and we must step towards a safer, more sustainable and equitable path to the future.”
The Honourable Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Civil Service and Communications and Acting Minister for Transport of Fiji officially opened the Forum acknowledged that “SIDS need assistance from development partners to facilitate policy responses to the crisis and to accelerate the economic recovery with measures that ensures long term sustainability.” He further remarked “[The Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development] presents a valuable opportunity to share knowledge and best practice that will cultivate and further develop innovative solutions to address the implementation of the SDGs with the effect of COVID-19.”
Forum participants also acknowledged the achievement of the Government and people of Vanuatu on its graduation from least developed country status on 4 December 2020 as endorsed by the UN General Assembly.
The Forum and workshop were attended by almost 100 participants, both in person and virtually. Participants comprise of member States from the Pacific region, civil society organizations and development partners. The event is being conducted over two days from 14 to 15 December at the Westin Hotel in Nadi.