Opening Speech - Sub-Regional Conference – Promoting Progress on Agenda 2030 in the European Context

Ms. Yuriko Shoji, Deputy Regional Representative, FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

HE Ana Brnabic, Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia

Excellencies

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of FAO and the whole UN family, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Serbia for organizing this Sub-regional Conference on Promoting Progress on the 2030 Agenda in the European context.

Together with the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) last March in Switzerland, and the upcoming Baku SDG Regional Forum, taking place in October in Azerbaijan, this Sub-regional Conference is an excellent opportunity to discuss the progress in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), creating a regional peer-learning platform to share experiences, policy solutions and challenges as well as to promote best practices and synergies for cooperation.

Defined and fully owned by the countries, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents a ground-breaking transformational plan of action to shift the world to a sustainable and resilient path, putting the needs of the most marginalized people at the forefront of any interventions, to ensure that no one is left behind.

The SDGs will shape national development plans over the next 12 years. From ending poverty and hunger to responding to climate change and sustaining our natural resources, food and agriculture lie at the heart of the 2030 Agenda. We have 17 ambitious goals and 169 targets we committed to achieve by 2030. We have 232 indicators agreed at the global level to monitor and report on the progress, with quality, accessible, timely and reliable disaggregated data. This is undoubtedly an ambitious plan.

While the Governments, as UN members states, are primarily responsible for SDG achievement and related reporting, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda calls for an inclusive approach and a strong engagement of all stakeholders, at the regional, national and local level, acting together in a collaborative partnership. The Agenda allows all stakeholders in the society to give their voice and contribution – civil society, experts, marginalized groups, media, academia, business community and common people. Moreover, regional and sub-regional cooperation and frameworks are acknowledged throughout the 2030 Agenda as key to “facilitate the effective translation of sustainable development policies into concrete action at the national level”. This conference is an excellent opportunity for fostering this kind of dialogue and partnership.

FAO, together with the whole UN system, is supporting countries in the region in their efforts in achieving the SDGs, providing advice and assistance in the SDG nationalization processes as well as support in the technical implementation, monitoring and reporting of the SDGs. On behalf of FAO, I would like to reaffirm our readiness to continue assisting the countries on the 2030 Agenda to ensure the achievement of a comprehensive and long-term approach to sustainable development.

The EU integration agenda is a priority for Western Balkans and countries in the region are committed to implement the EU reform processes leading to a successful and timely EU integration. It has been widely stressed how the EU accession process and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda are tightly linked with high potential of mutually accelerating each other’s progress. The UN considers this as a special asset for Serbia and other neighboring countries and we are confident that Western Balkans can build upon and benefit from the synergies and complementarity of the EU integration and SDGs.

Lastly, I would like to conclude my speech with a note on the Government of Serbia, the host of this conference. The United Nations highly values the strong commitment and dedication of the Government of the Republic of Serbia to implement the Agenda 2030. In particular, I would like to refer to:

  • its active contribution to the inter-governmental processes and national post 2015 consultations, for the formulation of the 2030 Agenda;
  • the institutional machinery established in the country for the implementation of the SDGs and, in particular, to the Inter-Ministerial Working Group comprising 27 members, which is fully operational and spearheading, under chairmanship of Minister Djukic Dejanovic;
  • the important progress the Government is making on SDG implementation, and, in this regard, I would like to mention:
    • the Mainstreaming Acceleration Policy Support (MAPS) mission, held last week, following the government’s request to the UN to conduct an analysis with the WB and the EU to identify accelerators for SDG implementation.
    • the commitment of the Government of Serbia to present its first Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum in 2019 in NY
    • Last but not least, the hosting of this conference.

On behalf of the United Nations, I conclude by saying that we are confident that this conference will provide an opportunity for the neighboring countries to exchange practices and consolidate joint approaches ahead in the spirit of good regional cooperation. We hope that each of you will take an active part in the discussions and establish personal ties between participants.

Thank you very much and wish you all a productive conference.

UN entities involved in this initiative
FAO
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IAEA
International Atomic Energy Agency
ILO
International Labor Organization
IOM
International Organization for Migration
OHCHR
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UNCTAD
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme
UNECE
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
UN Environment
United Nations Environment Programme
UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund
UN Habitat
United Nations Human Settlements Programme
UNHCR
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization
UNODC
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNOPS
United Nations Office for Project Services
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNWTO
United Nations World Tourism Organization
WFP
World Food Programme
WHO
World Health Organization
World Bank
World Bank