28 September 2015
by Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative
Last week, H.E. President Choumaly Sayasone and H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith represented Lao PDR at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York, where more than 100 world leaders and all 193 UN Member States adopted the global Sustainable Development Goals. These Goals are a globally agreed vision to put people and planet on a sustainable path by 2030. This will form the bedrock of a new development agenda that can set the world on a course of action to end poverty, transform lives and protect the planet.
In Lao PDR, these new Goals will help us to concentrate on how economic growth can be translated into better lives for all Lao citizens. The Goals spell out how we work together to promote dignity, equality, justice, shared prosperity and well-being for all, while protecting the environment. Without clear goals and targets to achieve data-driven results, we risk leaving the most vulnerable behind and not properly addressing new challenges that impede development and harm our planet. We are the first generation that can end poverty and the last one that can avoid the worst effects of climate change.
Millions of people’s lives have improved due to concerted efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, which serve as the foundation for this next global development agenda. Globally, the Millennium Development Goals targets have already been met on reducing poverty, increasing access to improved drinking water sources and achieving gender parity in primary school. The Government of Lao PDR has championed taking forward the Millennium Development Goals, and indeed, considerable progress has been made in many areas. Lao PDR has reached the target of halving the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day by 2013, and national estimates show that the poverty rate has declined even further than the 23% of 2013. The Lao PDR’s successful poverty reduction efforts are linked with many factors, among these, road and infrastructure construction in rural areas.
Over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half on a global scale. In Lao PDR, projections show that the under-five mortality rate has dropped from 170 to 70 per 1,000 live births between 1993 and 2015. Enormous progress has been made, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets. Yet despite this progress, the indignity of poverty has not been ended for all.
That’s why these 17 new Goals will continue this journey towards progress for everyone that aims to go even farther to focus the world on ending poverty, hunger and major health problems, as well as break new ground by setting goals and targets on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, energy, climate change, and peace and justice, among others.
I believe we will achieve substantial results by taking on the many interconnected challenges we face together. Focusing on challenges like child undernutrition must be approached from many different angles, as a concerted effort. Lao PDR reaffirmed its commitment to fight hunger and malnutrition through the launch of the National Zero Hunger Challenge in May this year and the country’s Agricultural Development Strategy and the National Nutrition Strategy will provide the framework for achieving the Zero Hunger Challenge.
These plans and actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and building greater shared prosperity is in everybody’s best interest and provides enormous investment opportunities that will benefit all people and the planet. Success in this new ambitious agenda for global action will be driven by leaders, governments and people, especially at the local levels. The Goals should matter to all of us, and we all have a shared responsibility for our future.
Let us focus on our shared problems and work on overcoming the common obstacles all countries face. With new, interconnected Sustainable Development Goals that apply to all, we can go much further to end all forms of poverty, ensure no one is left behind, tackle unsustainable practices and chart a dignified future for all people in all countries.
The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals will come into effect on 1 January 2016, replacing the Millennium Development Goals. The United Nations stands ready to continue supporting Lao PDR as it develops its strategy for making the Sustainable Development Goals a reality and to initiate the implementation of the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan. We will work closely with the government, private sector, civil society and many other partners to strive to achieve lasting results for people and planet.