Bakhodir Burkhanov: The Pacific Regional Workshop on Monitoring SDG 16

Nov 21, 2017

Hon. Solicitor-General of the Republic of Fiji, Mr. Sharvada Sharma

UNODC Regional Representative for South East Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas

Representatives from Pacific Island Country governments and law enforcement agencies 

Colleagues from PIFS, SPC and other regional partner institutions

Representatives from the civil society organizations

UN system colleagues from UNODC, UNESCAP and UNDP

Ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure to be here with you today. A very warm welcome to all participants, especially those who have travelled to this event from around the Pacific and beyond.

The focus of our gathering is Sustainable Development Goal 16, particularly its targets focused on rule of law and access to justice, corruption and transparent and accountable institutions. The very existence of this goal is a remarkable step forward in understanding what constitutes sustainable development. The MDG era focused heavily on progress across social sectors. While much has been achieved between 2000 and 2015, the experiences have shown that irreversible human development requires a stronger focus on peace, social justice, and clean and accountable institutions. 

This is where SDG 16 came in, raising the bar on what it takes to achieve sustainable development for the people and the planet. It commits the global community to work together to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.” 

In a nutshell, this SDG covers the governance aspects within the 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda, the entire SDG platform, is all about integration and synergies. SDG 16 plays an instrumental role in ensuring an integrated approach toward development. Focused on resolving governance deficits and challenges posed by profound social transformation, it tackles the root causes for a number of development issues covered under other SDGs. Progress across most SDGs will be handicapped without responsive and accountable governance frameworks, while none of the global goals can ever succeed without peaceful and inclusive societies.

SDG 16 is therefore both a pre-requisite and an enabler for all the other SDG goals and targets. Without exaggeration, SDG 16 is at the heart of the universal and inter-connected 2030 Agenda.

This is why systematically tracking progress toward SDG 16 targets is such a crucial task for all countries striving to achieve the 2030 goals.

Measuring SDG 16 is essential but is not a simple exercise. The complexity of the SDG itself and the lack of easily gauged data, have been identified as major challenges, particularly for the Pacific Island Countries. While this global goal is meant to put a spotlight on corruption, exclusion, injustice and violence, these issues are inherently sensitive and harder to objectively measure, and have therefore remained under the radar.

Yet the demand from people and communities to collect and analyze this data – and make it available to the public – continues to grow. Our discussion today is an important reminder of the importance of public accountability and responsiveness in delivering governance services. Indeed, institutions in any sector or branch of power exist to serve people, not the other way round.

It is clear that no single entity – whether state or non-state – is single-handedly able to address this challenge of measuring and delivering SDG 16. A whole-of-society and partnership approaches towards tracking and implementation are therefore necessary. To that end, Pacific leaders extended a call to the United Nations to align our work and operations to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Pacific region. As a result, the current UN Pacific Strategy supports 14 countries and territories to advance a localised response to the 2030 Agenda. In UNDP’s own five-year strategy for the Pacific, we have specifically committed to the localization and implementation of the 2030 Agenda, and to strengthening transparency and accountability of institutions.

More broadly, during the launch of the 2030 Pacific SDG Roadmap, Forum leaders called on regional and multilateral organizations such as the UN to support their aspiration to strengthen the implementation of the Roadmap, particularly through the development of Pacific-relevant statistics as well as meaningful accountability measures for partnerships under the SAMOA Pathway.

SDG 16 and its targets are directly and indirectly referred to in all of these documents, and we are firmly committed to supporting the people and communities in the Pacific to achieve inclusive, informed and transparent decision-making processes, ensure accountable and responsive institutions, and improve access to justice. 

Ladies and gentlemen:

Tracking progress and generating reliable data are integral to ensuring that progress against these ambitious goals occurs. Indeed, if development can’t be measured, it might not have taken place.

Together with UNODC, UNDP is pleased to be convening this workshop, aiming to support the Pacific Island Countries’ ability to track, monitor, plan and report on the SDG 16 areas of rule of law and access to justice, anti-corruption, and effective institutions. We are happy to be joined by a growing community of partners willing to support the countries in the implementation of this global goal.

We are hoping that the next few days will contribute to strengthening national planning machinery on SDG 16 data collection and reporting for evidence-based policy formulation; and to the exchange of best practices to produce, monitor and report on SDG 16 indicators at national, regional and global levels. 

The whole 2030 Agenda is constructed around synergies and partnerships. Looking at the broad spectrum of participants today, am very pleased that this gathering reflects that paradigm. I look forward to the outcomes of the discussion and to continuing UNDP’s support to Pacific Island Countries for achieving the SDG goals under the 2030 Agenda.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Thank you for your attention.

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