High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
Statement by His Excellency Mr Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy
New York, 18 July 2016
Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour for the Maldives to be speaking at the first High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. On behalf of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, and the Government and people of Maldives, we wish to express our appreciation to the President of ECOSOC, the Bureau and the membership for this opportunity to express the progress we have been making since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda.
Maldives is starting from a good point. We are proud to have achieved five out of the eight Millennium Development Goals well ahead of the 2015 deadline, making it South Asia’s only “MDG+” country.
Progress has been substantial in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. These notable achievements demonstrate robust development with a strong commitment to the social sectors, particularly health and education.
As we venture into new goals for the next 15 years, we reflect on our individual achievements and are greatly encouraged by the stand the world leaders have taken to eradicate poverty by determining that “no one is left behind”.
Maldives is a country with nothing but its rich marine resources - especially its rich, diverse, healthy and coral reefs, to its advantage for development. Our main industries – fisheries and tourism, are dependent on them. We have used marine resources and biodiversity “sustainably” for many generations for economic development. And we have been very successful, as evident from our graduation from LDC status in 2011.
We have shown that economic and social development can be achieved from a narrow resource base without compromising the environment on which we depend on to achieve development.
For us sustainable development is a way of life, ingrained into our traditions and culture. This mindset will be critical to achieving the new sustainable development goals. And we intend to build on our strengths and accomplishments of the past 30 years and lead by example.
For many of the SIDS such as the Maldives, oceans remain the only resource available to eradicate poverty, creating sustainable livelihoods and economic development. Oceans also regulate global climate and provide us with water and host the richest systems of biodiversity on earth.
We intend to continue doing better on conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and the rich marine resources, we have been blessed with, for sustainable development. Only by doing so would we be able to continue to sustain our achievements over the years.
Continuing to advocate globally for more ambitious climate action is also a priority for us in the Maldives. Climate change is the greatest challenge for SIDS such as the Maldives to achieve sustainable development. It is also the one challenge we cannot do much to address, except to call for action. On our part, we will continue our adaptation efforts in contributing to combatting climate change.
I am glad to note that we have already started with national activities and arrangements for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The basic tenants of the dimensions of SDGs are well addressed in our constitution. This greatly encourages us as we pursue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The process of localization and mapping the SDGs and relevant targets has already begun in Maldives. We began by closely analyzing the government manifesto and existing sector plans. The initial outcomes of our mapping exercise are very encouraging: 70% of the SDG targets are covered by sector plans and targets. More work will be undertaken in the future to better identify gaps.
Similar work on the indicators is being carried out as well. Initial results show that data for close to half the indicators are missing or will need to be worked on.
Substantive investment will be needed to upgrade our capacity to collect, process and analyse data at the national level, to monitor progress on the 2030 Agenda.
We have also just completed the first national dialogue on SDGs, attended by all relevant sectors of the government and our development partners. This introductory national dialogue was critical to take stock of, and identifying gaps in sector plans. It was the first platform to discuss the SDGs and targets and map them to the National and sector strategies and targets. We believe that good coordination within government sectors is key to the successful implementation of SDGs.
In terms of institutional arrangements, a ministerial committee will oversee monitoring and coordination of SDG implementation nationally. The Ministry of Environment and Energy is now mandated to coordinate the SDGs in the country.
We have also established a technical committee of all stakeholder ministries, private sector and NGOs who will play a leading role in the implementation of SDGs.
We are thankful for the opportunity, in the next two days to listen to the experiences of other countries in the initial phases of implementation. We look forward to learn from them, and take those lessons back home, and to work towards realising the 2030 Agenda in the Maldives, and contribute to that effort globally.
It is important to begin implementing the 2030 Agenda from Year One: we only have 15 years, now only 14 to implement this ambitious agenda. Despite the constraints, we have begun implementing the Agenda, and we call on all to expedite action to begin the transformative world promised by our new Agenda.