The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), together with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), organised the Sixth Pacific Forumon Sustainable Development (PFSD) with the theme “Reflections on SDGs in the Pacific amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and pathways towards the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels and achieving the 2050 Strategy”.
The 2022 PFSD was held on the 6th and 7th December at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva, Fiji and brought together representatives from government, the Private Sector and CSOs to take stock of the progress by Pacific countries in achieving the SDGs, particularly SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).
There was recognition that some SDG areas required development of policies and guidelines, with more effort needed to implement these policies, once formulated. This requires targeted public services, coordination across sectoral agencies, financial resources, tailored technology, and solution focused options and instruments to implement national development priorities in line with the SDG ambitions in the Pacific. It was underscored that regional cooperation remained vital to foster innovation and build the resilience of the food-energy-finance sectors to future shocks.
The PFSD also discussed the critical importance of development partnerships to meet the ambitions of the post-SAMOA pathway, the new global plan of action for SIDS which will be adopted in 2024.
The importance of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, the Pacific Leaders’ vision to shape the region to secure long-term wellbeing and prosperity, was acknowledged.
The need for the Pacific to focus on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) was highlighted, particularly since most Pacific small island developing States (SIDS) were falling behind, as development of these services was not keeping pace with the region’s population growth. The PFSD stressed the need to invest in renewable energy transition technologies given the region’s dependence on imported expensive fossil fuels, the cause of climate change and the impacts of which were devastating for Pacific SIDS.
While discussing SDG 11, participants heard that local governance and urban management remained critical priorities for implementing the SDGs. Additionally, the Pacific’s geography required increased focus on access, affordability and reliability of transport and communications.
The PFSD also reflected on the preparation and submission of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), prepared by countries to update the other members of the UN on the progress they were making in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Tuvalu submitted its VNR earlier this year and Fiji is expected to submit its VNR next year. Throughout the discussions, the importance of data was again emphasized with new approaches for support to Pacific SIDS advocated.
The contributions of the Private Sector, Civil Society Organizations, Academia and Pacific Youth Council in the PFSD complements the views of the governments, enhancing the outcomes document to include a whole of society perspective.
The outcomes of this sixth PFSD will contribute to the Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) that will meet in Bangkok in March 2022 and then will go to the High-Level Political Forum that in New York, in July 2022.
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The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the most inclusive intergovernmental platform in the Asia-Pacific region. The Commission promotes cooperation among its 53 member States and 9 associate members in pursuit of solutions to sustainable development challenges. ESCAP is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations. The ESCAP secretariat supports inclusive, resilient and sustainable development in the region by generating action-oriented knowledge, and by providing technical assistance and capacity-building services in support of national development objectives, regional agreements and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 coming into effect on 1st January 2016, for a period of 15 years until 2030. There are 17 SDGs. These are SDG1 (No Poverty); SDG2 (Zero Hunger); SDG3 (Good Health and Wellbeing); SDG4 (Quality Education); SDG5 (Gender Equality); SDG6 (Clean Water and Sanitation); SDG7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); SDG8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth); SDG9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure); SDG10 (Reduced Inequalities); SDG11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); SDG12 (Responsible Consumption and Production); SDG13 (Climate Action); SDG14 (Life below Water); SDG15 (Life on Land); SDG16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions); and SDG17 (Partnerships for the Goals).