Nicholas Rosellini: The North-North East Asian Multi-stakeholder Forum on SDGs

Oct 10, 2017

By Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator

UNDP Resident Representative

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning to you all!

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to this two day forum on the North-North East Asia Multi-stakeholder forum on SDGs. I believe it’s a great opportunity to take a look at what has been accomplished, and what remains needs to be accomplished, in terms of aiming towards 2030.

As we all know, there has been great success in North East Asia and in Asia overall, particularly in China, which has lifted 700 million people out of poverty over the last 20-30 years. The target for MDG Goal 1 would not have been achieved without China’s substantial contribution in terms of decline of poverty levels.

North East Asia is one of the most vibrant economic regions in the world; but at the same time, there are challenges up ahead. We started to see some of them during the period of the MDGs, across many countries, especially the rising inequalities issue.  To some extent, the MDGs tended to be more input focused, in the sense that it’s not enough to just install, for example, the water supply facilities, which also has to be maintained after installation. There are many examples where investment in water supply broke down a few years later, thus the facilities can’t function properly. Also, the example of education, the schools were built but perhaps the quality of the educational curriculum wasn’t suitable. Towards the end of the MDG era, there was much more emphasis and discussions about the qualitative issues around development, not just quantitative: the software is as important as the hardware. And this experience helped to shape the preparation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Looking ahead, there are also some challenges we see in North East Asia and the Pacific coming up now and on the horizon, such as environmental protection, pollution prevention, energy source switching, the whole issue of demographics, which affects countries very differently, in many cases the issue is the growing aging population, and other related issues around social protection and social welfare. Urbanization is also a big challenge for many countries.

As we move ahead with the SDGs, we can draw experiences of what worked and what didn’t work during the MDGs era, and also what are the big megatrends in North East Asia, in terms of what has to be dealt with at policy level and implementation level.

Also we should not forget the last mile. There has been tremendous achievements in terms of poverty alleviation, but often the last steps are the hardest, like the very remote areas in countries, vulnerable groups in countries, gender issues, children issues, minority groups, and so on, these are much more difficult issues to tackle with.

What comes out of this SDGs Agenda is, this is a comprehensive agenda, universal agenda, and qualitative agenda; which starts to look at more in-depth of these issues. And also bring in the very strong issues of inequalities and access to quality services, leave no one behind is a very important part of the SDGs Agenda.

I hope, as you are here, issues to be discussed can include,

Firstly, how can we make the SDGs happen, it’s a very complicated and cross-cutting agenda. Urbanization, for example, covers several SDG Goals. Thus we need to discuss the issues like:  are we institutionally set up to deal with these complex cross cutting issues?  Whether it’s gender, environment, urbanization. Do we, either the government or the UN systems have the structures and capacities to handle this?

Secondly, partnership. The heart of the SDGs is the idea of partnership, domestic partnership, among the stakeholders at the country level, the public sector, the private sector, NGOs, civil societies etc., how do we create the coalitions to make the SDGs happen? Also, international partnerships both South-South and North-South.

Thirdly, resourcing. While resourcing in North East Asia is not a big restraint, we do need to look at the new sources of finance, blended finance, public private partnerships, the role of the private sector in terms of financier and implementer of projects related to the SDGs. The whole cross sectoral and partnership approach, the financing requirements, are all still very relevant. We have been discussing this before the SDGs started, but it’s still very important part of the agenda.

While you are in China for this forum, you can certainly hear about the experiences of China. Because China has been a champion of the SDGs. China has been at the forefront in terms of implementing the SDGs; is one of the first countries to undergo the national voluntary review last year; China has issued the national implementation plan of the SDGs, has created the national inter-ministerial coordination mechanism, with more than 40 ministries involved. There is a lot China has done already to make sure the good implementation of the SDGs. And China has committed to eliminate extreme poverty by 2020, which is 10 years before the end of the SDGs era. The number of partners UN is working with is growing: ministries, local governments, think tanks, universities etc., and the partnership we are creating as the UN is very important to achieve the SDGs.

UN agencies are ready to offer our global network, expertise, experiences, best practices on the SDGs; can contribute to global achievement of the SDGs with concrete local actions. And we invite all stakeholders to join us to take actions together to implement the SDGs.

We in many situations are looking at sub national implementation of the SDGs, or localize the SDGs. This is a strong demand in many countries in North East Asia; and this is also an area we are working on in China, on SDGs localization, last mile poverty alleviation, and all the different SDGs.

I wish you a very productive discussion over the next two days, and looking forward the success of this forum.

Thank you!


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