Vientiane, 13 October 2020 – Today, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Lao National Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Secretariat in partnership with the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, jointly organized “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - Stakeholder Engagement Seminar with United Nations agencies and Development Partners in Lao PDR”, at the International Cooperation and Training Center. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Mr. Thongphane Savanphet, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs, and co-chaired by Ms. Sara Sekkenes, United Nations Resident Coordinator to the Lao PDR. More than 120 representatives participated in the Seminar, including the national SDG focal points from line ministries and equivalent, Ambassadors, UN agencies and Development Partners to the Lao PDR.
This is the fourth SDG seminar in a series of stakeholder engagement seminars and continued efforts to broaden engagement in the 2030 Agenda, promoting SDG implementation, localization and integration into the National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) as well as local and sectoral development planning. The seminar also served as a first step in preparing for the 2nd Voluntary National Review on SDG Implementation, which will be submitted by Lao PDR to the UN High-Level Political Forum in 2021.
On this occasion, H.E. Deputy-Minister Thongphane Savanphet stressed the importance of partnerships and cooperation among all relevant stakeholders, specifically recognizing the key contributions of the United Nations and Development Partners in supporting the progress, saying that “as we are living in the era of interdependence and facing the unprecedented uncertainties evolving from the COVID-19 pandemic threating our well-being and development efforts, we need more than ever to strengthen multilateral cooperation and partnerships at all levels in addressing our common challenges and finding solutions in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,positioning Lao PDR to graduate from the Least Developed Country status in the near future.”
On the same note, Ms. Sara Sekkenes, UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR highlighted that the 2030 Agenda shows the way for a strong recovery from the havoc caused by COVID-19 in an inclusive and sustainable manner and added that “the core messages of the Agenda - on sustainability, shared prosperity, and working together to make sure that we leave no one behind, now and in the future- gives us the strongest foundation from which to confront challenges such as the pandemic.”
In the panel discussion, panelists called for accelerating joint, sustainable solutions to the many challenges Lao PDR faces — ranging from poverty to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap under the guiding question - “How can we ensure an effective cooperation and partnership to accelerate the implementation and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Lao PDR?”. Panelists included representatives from the Department of Planning, Ministry of Planning and Investment, the United Nations, Development Partners, the National SDG Advocate and Technical Advisor.
The Government of the Lao PDR is strongly committed to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the SDGs. The President has issued a Decree appointing the Prime Minister as chair of the National Steering Committee for SDG implementation, with members of the Committee drawn from all concerned ministries, ministry-equivalent agencies, and mass organizations. The Committee appointed a National SDG Secretariat, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Planning and Investment, with SDG focal points within each of the relevant line ministries as custodians to lead and take ownership of each SDG, ensuring smooth coordination and collaboration within the Government.Furthermore, in2016 the Lao PDR adopted its own unique SDG 18 - ‘Lives safe from unexploded ordnance (UXO)’.
The Lao PDR was also among the first countries to localize the SDGs and integrate them into its national planning framework. The current 8th NSEDP has the SDGs embedded into its three outcomes, each of which are related to the three economic, social, and environmental dimensions of the 2030 Agenda. The SDGs will be further integrated into the forthcoming 9th NSEDP (2021-2025). To achieve these Goals, the Lao PDR is working closely with the United Nations Development System and other development partners to ensure development cooperation and support is well aligned with national priorities and that partnerships accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda.