Nadi, Fiji - The complexity of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) itself and the lack of easily gauged data, have been identified as major challenges, particularly for Pacific Island Countries.
Therefore, the demand to collect and analyze data that is made available to the public continues to grow.
A four-day regional workshop organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) was organised in Nadi, Fiji from 21 – 24 November to discuss approaches towards tracking and delivering on SDG 16.
The SDG 16 is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
A specific feature of the SDGs is the statistical framework, developed through a complex and participatory process that will assist the international community in understanding whether actual progress has taken place.
However, increased efforts are needed in the Pacific to gather data for measurement of such progress, as well as strengthening the linkages with policy making and implementation.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, the Solicitor General for the Fijian Government and Acting Permanent Secretary for Justice, Sharvada Sharma, encouraged participants to share best practices from their home countries and to discuss tangible ways that the Pacific Island Countries can collectively achieve SDG 16.
“It is imperative to note that as Pacific Island Countries, we need to take substantial steps to ensure that we deal effectively with conduct which is corrupt or is an abuse of office, and to strengthen existing institutions, albeit creating new institutions, not just to achieve SDG 16 but to use a holistic approach in the fight against systemic corruption”.
“We recognize that corruption is a serious economic, social and political disease and a problem which affects both the public and private sectors”, said Sharma.
“This workshop provides a platform and an opportunity to share anti-corruption efforts and mechanisms that are being used in Pacific Island Countries in the implementation of United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) vis-à-vis SDG 16”.
Titled: Supporting Countries to Track Progress on Rule of Law and Access to Justice, Anti-Corruption, and Effective Institutions, the event was organised with support from the Australian Government.
Echoing sentiments made by Sharma, the Country Director for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji and Head of Regional Policy and Programmes, Bakhodir Burkhanov, highlighted the importance of public accountability and responsiveness.
“SDG 16 acts as both a pre-requisite, and an enabler for all the other SDG goals and targets – keeping SDG 16 at the heart of the universal and integrated 2030 agenda is therefore crucial”.
He added, “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”.
Highlighting the need for a holistic approach, Burkhanov said, “It is clear that no single entity – whether state or non-state – is single-handedly able to address this challenge of measuring and delivering on SDG 16”.
“A whole-of-society and partnership approaches towards tracking and implementation are therefore necessary”.
Also speaking at the workshop was UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, who highlighted the nexus between development and effective governance.
“It is time to reinforce the message that development, anti-corruption and the rule of law are interconnected, and that going forward as we track progress and gather data on the SDGs, a strong effort will be needed to bring all relevant stakeholders into development discussions to honour the unifying framework that the SDGs have created for our action”.
The workshop hosted 61 participants, representing 13 Pacific Island Countries, from National Planning Departments, Statistic Offices and Government bodies and stakeholders leading in the areas of rule of law and access to justice and anti-corruption, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), regional organisations engaged in the SDG agenda, such as the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and the Pacific Communities (SPC); and informed by global technical expertise, including South-South and Triangular Cooperation.
The Expected outcomes of the workshop include: strengthened tailored national indicators and data sources to measure SDG 16 in the areas of rule of law and access to justice, anti-corruption, and effective institutions; and enhanced understanding of national mechanisms to produce SDG 16 data of high quality in the areas of rule of law and access to justice, anti-corruption, and effective institutions.
Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Communications Associate – Effective Governance, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, E: email@example.com, Tel: (679) 3227 554, M: (679) 9936 744
Tomoko Kashiwazaki, Specialist Advocacy and Outreach, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: (679) 3312 500, M (679) 9422 193