Regional Workshop on ‘Sustainable Development Goals: Priorities and Solutions’
by Dr. Angus Munro
Dr. Munro attended the above inaugural meeting of the Southeast Asia Regional Hub of the Sustainable Development Systems Network (SDSN) at the Westin Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The SDSN is an initiative of the United Nations under the direction of Professor Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute (Columbia University) which aims to contribute to the establishment of a series of global Strategic Development Goals (SDGs), as the next step after the 2015 expiry of the programme for developing nations’ pursuit of their Millennium Development Goals. As such, the SDSN seeks to create a synergistic network of regional and national organisations for the entrenchment and thereafter the reinforcing of the four pillars for sustainable development (economic prosperity, social inclusion, environmental sustainability and good governance). The President of the University of Cambodia, Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, is a member of the SDSN Southeast Asia Regional Board.
The purpose of the workshop was to give regional inputs to the relevant United Nations’ Open Working Group (OWG-SDGs) on a targeted framework of regionally-relevant (and hopefully globallyachievable) SDGs. It was co-organised by Professor Emeritus Dato’ Sri Dr. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, Malaysia; Chair, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services; expert member of the newly-established Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon) and Sir Bob Watson (Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Visiting Professor, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University; a past scientific advisor in the US White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, scientific advisor, manager and chief scientist at the World Bank, and chief scientific advisor to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
The meeting involved about 100 participants from ASEAN member countries and Australia (mainly from Monash University), as well as representatives of ADB, ANZ, UNDP and UNESCO. As such, it included contributions from governments, academia,
the business sector and other stakeholders from the region.
The following is my personal take on a few of the major items arising. The major conclusions, based on the individual presentations, are that:
A document has been submitted, after due consultation with all participants, to the OWG-SDGs for consideration and inclusion, as appropriate, in their report to the UN General Assembly in late 2014. Arising out of the meeting, it is planned to launch the Cambodian Chapter of the SSDN, and the relevant office in the United Nations has been contacted accordingly.
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