ASEAN commits to accelerating development to achieve SDGs

Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has reaffirmed that the achievement of the Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADG), and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should be the relevant framework of the development activities of the UN system and other relevant international organizations. The realisation of the SDGs is also a core development agenda of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Member States of which are also NAM Member States.

On September 20, 2021, the first ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Accelerating Actions to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals was held via video conference, and was convened by Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the ASEAN Secretariat. The meeting was attended by ASEAN Member States and representatives of relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies. A Joint Statement was issued after this Ministerial Dialogue. The Joint Statement recalled that the complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provided the impetus for the ASEAN Leaders to approve the development of the Complementarities Roadmap 2020-2025 and support the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD) during the 35th ASEAN Summit in 2019.

The Joint Statement recognised the ASEAN region’s achievements especially prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in reducing absolute poverty and hunger, improving access to quality education and health, registering large strides in infrastructure, industrialisation and innovation, and more importantly the catch-up work needed to achieve the SDGs in the areas of reducing inequality and climate action. It further recognised the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on development including poverty, inequality within and among countries, unemployment, economic downturn, as well as other risks facing the region such as disasters, biodiversity loss and climate change, which require a recalibration of strategies and transformation of approaches in reaching sustainable development based on national and regional contexts.

The Joint Statement further underscored the critical and catalytic roles of national development agencies and/or coordinating agencies on SDGs implementation in ASEAN Member States to steer policy discourse, planning and implementation on sustainable development by linking and synergising actions at the national level and regional initiatives at the ASEAN level.

The ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue committed to undertake the following measures to accelerate actions to realise the SDGs.

  1. Ensure that national policies, development plans, and programmes are reviewed and recalibrated to reflect the changing landscape of achieving the SDGs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other mega trends affecting the ASEAN region such as climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental degradation, food insecurity, digitalisation, increasing social and gender inequalities within and among countries, rapid urbanisation, and varying demographic trends, among others;
  2. Pursue sustainable and innovative ways and technology transfers to finance the SDGs as we build capacities, engage various stakeholders, ensure quality public expenditures, and promote private investments that impact the lives of the people;
  3. Explore cooperation on strengthening SDG data systems and institutions, effective data coordination between and among government agencies, public outreach for evidence-based policy development and implementation, and public communication;
  4. Convene the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Accelerating Actions to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, when appropriate and mutually agreed, as a platform for national development agencies and/or coordinating agencies on achieving the SDGs to strengthen regional cooperation to develop a common regional agenda, build capacities and exchange knowledge aligned with priorities in the Decade of Action to achieve the SDGs;
  5. Engage multiple stakeholders at various levels, including community-based and civil society organisations, private sector, philanthropies and the academics to strengthen the collaborative work and partnership as well as the science technology-policy interface, on attaining the SDGs and ensure that no one is left behind.

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