Vientiane, 23 May 2016
The UN in Lao PDR has recently staged two events focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), drawing on expertise from the community to find ways to adopt the SDGs to Lao realities.
Two separate events have recently focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), drawing on expertise from government, development partners, civil society and youth.
193 UN Member States, the Lao PDR amongst them, adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015. These 17 goals are a globally agreed vision to put people and planet on a sustainable path by 2030, attempting to end poverty, transform lives and protect the planet. The SDGs picked up where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) left off at the end of 2015, breaking new ground by setting targets on inequalities, economic growth, decent jobs, energy, climate change, and peace and justice, among others. The SDGs, unlike the MDGs, apply to all countries, regardless of geographic location, wealth or development status.
Since then, substantive work has gone towards integrating the SDGs into the Lao PDR’s guiding strategic document, the 8th National-Socio-Economic Development Plan, and its Monitoring and Evaluation Framework. Indeed, around half of the 8th Plan’s indicators are now linked to SDG indicators.
Efforts in adapting the SDGs into the context of Lao PDR continued last week in a high-level workshop with over 70 participants from government, development partners, the UN and civil society. Attendees discussed prioritisation and sequencing of the global agenda, to inform the development of further national SDG indicators complementing those in the 8th Plan.
Among other decisions, participants identified the need to consider introducing a Lao-specific SDG 18, a national goal targeting reduced impact of unexploded ordnance (UXO). Much like MDG 9, SDG 18 will ensure advancement in UXO clearance and mine risk education for vulnerable communities.
The workshop also pinpointed a number of challenges, in particular around data and monitoring, ensuring inclusive development partnerships and in a number of thematic areas, such as youth employment.
Latter topic featured significantly at last weekend’s YouthSpeak Forum, an engagement event organised by AIESEC, a global youth leadership NGO in partnership with the UN in Lao PDR, the Asian Development Bank and several international NGOs. The event aimed to engage young people to learn about, discuss and take action on the SDGs.
About 100 young students listened to presentations on the SDGs, then discussed their personal ways to contribute to achieving the goals in breakout workshop sessions and engagement activities.
AIESEC is one of the first NGOs fully aligning their activities with the new global development agenda. YouthSpeak Forums present a platform to give the young people not only a voice but also the opportunity to create action plans to impact their communities on topics of global importance. Globally, over 180 YouthSpeak Forums were organised in 2015, with more than 27,000 participants. In Lao PDR, this is the first time a YouthSpeak Forum took place. Preceding this event, AIESEC in Laos surveyed which SDGs Lao youth would prioritise. Much like the results of global and regional surveys, Lao youth lists ending poverty, ensuring good health and quality education as top issues.
Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative said: “A partnership approach, as stipulated in the Vientiane Partnership Declaration for Effective Development Cooperation, is of essence when implementing the global sustainable development agenda. We need input from all actors in order to reach these 18 ambitious goals. Obviously, leaders in society are indispensable in this. However, young people’s voice and action and their fresh perspectives should be at the centre of the movement towards creating a more sustainable world and leaving no one behind in Lao PDR."
As a further important step in implementing the SDGs, the UN will work with the government’s own SDG Steering Committee and the SDG Secretariat to develop a national SDG roadmap, based on the 8th Plan. In coordination with the roadmap, specific UN agencies will support the government in implementing selected goals that relate to their area of expertise.
Information on the SDGs in Lao PDR: bit.ly/24x36vP
For more information on AIESEC’s YouthSpeak Forums, please visit: youthspeak.aiesec.org
Read Lao version here.