U.N. hosts talks on regional, sustainable development

By Mathias Huckert 18 June 2016, 12:00AM

The United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, Lizbeth Cullity, hosted on Thursday here in Apia, the consultations that were aimed at directing focus on maintaining sustainable development in the Pacific region.

She said “The United Nations member states around the world adopted a sustainable development agenda until the year 2030.”

Together with Mr Filifilia Iosefa, the U.N.’s Coordination Specialist for Samoa, she organized the gathering on Thursday. 

Because of the said agenda determined for the years to come, the U.N. hosted national consultations to discuss a variety of topics and solution approaches. 

It invited more than 40 members of the civil society as well as the private sector of Samoa, which included participants such as N.G.O.'s, farmer groups, culture and fine arts, private sector representatives, tourist operators and youth groups.

“We started our work concerning 17 different goals in particular this January. Our entire agenda is based on leaving no one behind. So when we’re talking about sustainable development, we make sure that it is inclusive. 

"Years ago, people only talked about development and didn’t use the word sustainable. 

"But sustainability is what we need to focus on now, because we recognized that without such sustainability, the programmes that we have been working on could actually lead to problems regarding for instance the area of climate change or others," Lizbeth Cullity told Samoa Observer.

She maintained that the opinions of members of the private sector and civil society were highly important, saying: “We wanted to work with them to see how they are interested and willing to be partners with us. 

"The governments alone cannot make progress, as they need to rely on media, on civil society and private sector [including] churches, schools, villages and the people themselves.”

Cullity also pointed out that there will always be challenges to be faced when trying to achieve progresses, saying: “This is an economy of small scale, [where] the private sector does not have the means to employ those who are vulnerable.

 "(Besides) the government itself is also limited by the resources, concerning both human and capital, so yes, there will be challenges, but that does not mean that we cannot make great leaps and bounds in accomplishing other goals.”

Lizbeth Cullity said that "Samoa has really demonstrated its leadership in the area of looking at sustainable development.

"And as a matter of fact, the Samoan government has been a model to other Pacific governments to show them how they are organizing their sectoral plans, and having a more integrated, sustainable development strategy."

Therefore, Lizbeth Cullity said she did exclude that the progress which was discussed at national consultations, could also be adopted by other Pacific Island states in the near future. 

To achieve progress, the members of the consultations shared their ideas in the context of group work, in which they were divided into four groups. 

Each one dealt with different topics of the 17 so called S.D.G.’s (Sustainable Development Goals) which had been introduced by the U.N. 

These topics included a whole range of goals from poverty, climate action up to responsible consumption and production. Each of the four groups was encouraged to come up with recommendations to be discussed later.

Spokesman Adrian Mosese, of TV3, pointed out that with the recent problems regarding Samoa’s youth, something has to be done.

He said: “We’ve faced a lot of tragic events throughout the past weeks including fighting, robberies between schools and gangs. 

"I know that this is one of the things that had a negative influence on our economy, especially in the sector of tourism. 

"What we need is to create an environment in which kids know that their talent could be used for more than injuring people. 

"The tribal days where people actually had to fight for what they wanted are over. There has to be more awareness for the youth. 

"That’s why we want the U.N. to support us to at least prevent such problems from repeating themselves in Samoa.

“For most kids nowadays, dancing is a popular form of art which is promoted and also embedded in education."

The group introduced a plan to improve education among the country’s youth in rural areas. 

Said Mose: “I’ve seen a lot of the Pacific region and I am aware that in P.N.G., especially in the highland areas, there is a huge number of uneducated people. 

"But they do speak good English, and I think that is what we also have to adopt here in Samoa. We need to arrange ways for people who need education but don’t have the ability to pay for it."

During the national consultations, similar recommendations were expressed.

 The ideas discussed during this week’s consultations will be reviewed at a meeting to be held on 23 June here in Apia. 

By Mathias Huckert 18 June 2016, 12:00AM

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