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Why reconcilliation is must for SDGs

1 October 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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At the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. The SDGs, build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. 

The 17 SDGs included- 

1. No Poverty 
2. Zero Hunger 
3. Good Health and Well-being 
4. Quality Education 
5. Gender Equality 
6. Clean Water and Sanitation 
7. Affordable and Clean Energy 
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 
9. Industry Innovation and Infrastructure 
10. Reduce Inequalities 
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 
12. Responsible Consumption and Production 
13. Climate Action 
14. Life below water 
15. Life on Land 
16. Strong Institutions for Peace and Justice
17. Partnerships for the Goals. 

MDGs and Sri Lanka 

Since independence in 1948, every government has continued to make provisions for free health and education, infrastructural projects for rural economic development, rural agriculture and nature’s gift of a rich environment has also helped Sri Lanka to achieve some MDGs even though the country had suffered a three-decade armed conflict, which ended in 2009. Achievements of MDGs by Sri Lanka in 2015 need to recognised. 

But still some critical areas are yet to fully achieve the MDGs of Sri Lanka. The MDGs adopted in 2000, aimed at an array of issues that included 
1) Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, 2)Achieve Universal Primary Education, 3) Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women, 4)Reduce Child Mortality, 5) Improve Mental Health, 6) Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases, 7) Ensure Environment Sustainability, 8). Develop a Global Partnership for Development. 

Poverty still can be found in some rural areas and in the plantations areas. The health and education indicators are the highest in the South Asian region and also can be close to the developed world. 

But the reality is that the quality of education and health services needs to be improved to meet international standards. 

The percentage of women in politics is the lowest in the region as well as in the world. At least 30 percent women representation should be in the Parliament, Provincial Councils and Local Government. The previous UPFA government, the government itself, and government-supported private sector development projects have raised many questions with regard to negative impact on the wildlife and nature environment. 

Less priority was given on the use of clean energy in the past and is still at a primitive stage in Sri Lanka. To develop a global partnership for development with the MDGs, Sri Lanka had only a handful of nations as development partners. Due to the negative relationship Sri Lanka had with many developed nations, particularly in the post-war era, the country had negative impacts on various sectors, especially political and economic sectors until January 2015.

SDGs and Sri Lanka 

President Maithripala Sirisena has mentioned that, the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is fully supportive of the 2015 Post-development Agenda and the SDGs adopted by the UN General Assembly and that Sri Lanka would act with determination as a pioneer eco-sensitive civilization emerging in the 21st century. 

He has given the assurance at the UN SDGs Session on 27th September 2015 to the world leaders that the GoSL anticipated achieving these goals fully by 2030 and reiterated that “sustainable development encapsulates the equilibrium between social and economic development and environment protection. “In that respect, we will work towards the provision of basic needs of the people, progressive alleviation of poverty, elimination of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, and establish a society based on social justice and human security,” he said. This statement is much important for post-war Sri Lanka in addressing multiple issues relating to various sectors of society. 

He further mentioned that, in the preparation of development policies for Sri Lanka, as an aspiring upper middle income country, special attention is focused on poverty alleviation (SDG 01), achieving food security (SDG 02), energy (SDG 7), education (SDG 04), minimizing income disparity (SDG 10) and urban development (SDG 11). 

SDG 17 - Partnership for the goals

The first step for achieving the SDGs before 2030, is that the country needs to have partnerships for the goals in the immediate future. As President Sirisena pointed out, Sri Lanka’s strategy will envisage a framework for cooperation between the UN, regional organizations and other states. 

The SDGs can only be realized with a strong commitment to global partnership and cooperation particularly in a post-war country like Sri Lanka. Partnering with the UN, regional organizations and developed nations, post-war Sri Lanka needs to have some strategies and steps that can be taken without any delay. Those strategies and steps will not only help in the reconciliation process but also the international community will welcomed them. 

One step that would be taken by Sri Lanka, in the immediate future is to accede and ratify the international disarmament, human rights, regulating arms treaties and conventions such as the Mine Ban Treaty, Cluster Munitions, Arms Trade Treaty, Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. 

At the same time there is a need to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Strengthening global solidarity is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress on the multiple goals. Overall, achieving of the SDGs will need firm commitment, comprehensive plans and a political will by the GoSL.

Permanent Peace in Sri Lanka a must to achieve the SDGs

With the change of the presidency and the new government which came into power in 2015 in Sri Lanka, the country can better plan for implementing the SDGs from January 2016 onwards. To achieve the SDGs by Sri Lanka before 2030, the foundation should be to sustain peace and that must prevail in future. Without sustainable peace the SDGs will not be achieved by post-war Sri Lanka. 

The ongoing reconciliation process needs to be strengthened, to be transparent and be supportive of the people of Sri Lanka. In this respect, acceding and ratifying the above mentioned treaties and conventions in the immediate future will strengthen the ongoing reconciliation and guarantee to the international community that post-war Sri Lanka will lead the way to achieve SDGs before the deadline of 2030.

With permanent peace in the country it can become a champion of disarmament in the South Asian region and can be an example for other nations around the world. 

Vidya Abhayagunawardena is a researcher in socioeconomic development and disarmament. He can be reached @ vidyampa@hotmail.com
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