Role of Parliament in Sustainable Development Crucial

Jul 26, 2017

Members of the Tonga Legislative Assembly (Photo: UNDP/Latanya Gwilliam)

Nuku'alofa, Tonga - Members of Tonga’s National Parliament, are currently engaged in a three-day seminar to better understand the important role parliaments play in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The SDGs, also referred to as the Global Goals, builds on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). While not legally binding, governments are expected to take ownership and establish national frameworks for the achievement of the 17 Goals. 

While all the SDG targets are important, the seminar focuses on enhancing the members’ understanding of Goal 13 related to Climate Change and Goal 16 related to building of effective and accountable institutions to promote peace and inclusive society. 

This is part of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) support to strengthen the National Parliament capacities to engage with cross cutting key development issues. 

“Our Parliamentarians are in a unique position to ensure that Laws are implemented that encourage positive and sustainable development to take place”, said Lord Tu’ivakano, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. 

“I hope that at the end of this Seminar, members will have a better understanding of the issues, so that they can effectively carry out their parliamentary roles for representation, law making and oversight”, said Lord Tu’ivakano.

He also encouraged parliamentarians, as representatives of the people in parliament, to ensure development priorities are aligned to the SDGs.

“Engage your constituencies and let them know what they can do. You can then bring the views of your electorates on the SDGs to the Legislative Assembly. Lord Tu’ivakano added; “through the National Budget and through development assistance, you can ensure that sustainable development efforts receive the appropriate financing needed.”

In her opening speech, New Zealand High Commissioner to Tonga, Sarah Walsh reaffirmed the New Zealand Government’s commitment in working with Pacific regional parliaments to promote prosperity, stability, and resilience in the region. 

“Parliaments and parliamentarians have the potential to be powerful agents of change”, said Walsh.

“Tonga and other Pacific Island nations played an important role in actively shaping the Sustainable Developments Goals agenda, and as a result, the Goals represent some of the region’s biggest priorities and challenges.”

She added, “issues of accessible, fair, and effective law and justice institutions, which are not only important because they allow people to access their fundamental rights, but are also a critical enabler of investment and sustainable economic growth.”

According to Kevin Petrini, Resilience and Sustainable Development (RSD) Team Leader with the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Parliaments play a central role in advancing strong systems of democratic governance.  

“The SDGs include a dedicated goal that ‘promotes peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and inclusive institutions at all levels’ – this places parliament’s at the forefront of the SDGs’ implementation and monitoring,” said Petrini. 

Through the endorsement of the Tonga Sustainable Development Framework (TSDF) 2015 – 2025, the Government of Tonga has managed to localize the SDGs. 

To address anti-corruption and promote good governance practices, an inclusive, sustainable, responsive good governance with law and order is also integrated into the Framework.   

“There is a broad consensus that without meaningful action to reduce corruption, progress towards the other Goals is likely to be extremely limited. 

Petrini adds, “corruption represents a major obstacle to reaching all the SDGs as it hampers economic growth and increases poverty, depriving the most marginalised groups of equitable access to vital services such as healthcare, education and water and sanitation.” 

The Seminar for Members is part of UNDP’s support to strengthen the National Parliament’s capacities to engage with key development issues. The Seminar is funded by New Zealand Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade through its support to the UNDP Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative Project.

The Seminar concludes on Thursday 27 July, 2017.

Contact information

Jone Raqauqau, Communications Associate, Effective Governance Team, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, email:, tel: (679) 3227 552 or 9936 744

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