Excellency Prof. Pornpetch Wichitcholchai, President of the Senate of Thailand,
Excellency Mr. Chuan Leekpai, President of the National Assembly of Thailand, Chair of the Executive Committee and APPF 30,
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed my pleasure to join you at this 30th Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum.
Over three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asia-Pacific region has witnessed a widening of existing inequalities. The impact of the pandemic on the region has greatly affected the lives and livelihoods of people and their communities.
Since its outbreak, policy measures to contain the spread of the pandemic have entrenched levels of inequality ranging from income inequality to digital inequality, affecting the most vulnerable populations deeply within countries.
Quite alarming is the progress made against the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which has shown to be at risk of regressing, especially as the pandemic pushed millions back into poverty.
As a note, even before the pandemic, the region was not on track to achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Despite the challenges, the crisis has provided us the opportunity to put sustainability back at the centre of countries’ development trajectories, mainly through the efforts to recover better and more sustainable from the pandemic.
The 2030 Agenda recognizes the critical roles of parliamentarians in ensuring support, financing and accountability to the SDGs. Above all, it calls for meaningful engagement of parliamentarians to translate the global agenda into national efforts.
With only eight years left to achieve the SDGs, strong national and local partnerships and cooperation is crucial for sustainable recovery from the pandemic and advancement of the Agenda 2030.
Therefore, it is urgent to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda at the national level, and the Voluntary National Review (VNR) is a very essential tool.
The VNR is a process through which countries assess their national progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda. It allows them to improve their performance through experience sharing, peer-learning and mobilizing resources. It is a valuable scheme to review the national policy to assess the SDGs’ implementation.
At the national level, parliament plays important roles with respect to:
- the VNR preparations;
- setting the legal framework to allow organizations such as CSOs to provide inputs to the VNR; and
- strengthening the relations and collaboration between international organizations and the National Assembly/Ministries to accelerate the SDGs progress.
In this regard, we have beensupporting countries in building capacity to raise general awareness of SDGs, and puts in place an institutional mechanism that will strengthen the engagement of the parliament and its stakeholders in the SDGs.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
We look forward to strengthening engagements with parliamentarians in achieving the SDGs.
I wish you all the best for the upcoming deliberations and success to the Forum.