Successful financing of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 boils down to benefiting the people of ASEAN, especially the vulnerable, the underprivileged, women and children. ASEAN, together with its partners – including China and the UNDP, is working towards a more robust financing of SDG implementation.” This was the message conveyed by ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee at a symposium on financing the implementation of SDGs in ASEAN held on 22 August 2017 in the northern province of Thailand.
Assistant Secretary-General Haoliang Xu of UNDP emphasized that "although significant progress has been made unique challenges remain for ASEAN countries such as inequality and climate change.” Xu added that, "to resolve these challenges we are encouraging peer support among ASEAN countries to ensure that integrated financing policies are monitored for maximum impact and major results.”
The symposium brought together more than 100 key stakeholders from ASEAN government agencies, ASEAN sectoral bodies, think tanks and representatives of civil society, the ASEAN Secretariat, UNDP, the private sector and the media. There were also representative from think thanks and government agencies in China. The symposium aims to raise awareness, support and buy-in among people of ASEAN in realising the SDGs and building an ASEAN Community that is people-centered and people-oriented.
In his keynote address, Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand and now the Chairman of Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC) told participants that the best way to finance the SDGs in ASEAN is to "prioritise financing for the development of people of ASEAN – the most important resources to implement SDGs.” He said it is the people of ASEAN that will make the implementation of SDGs a success. Dr. Surakiart stressed that "financing SGD is not just solely about finding funds but the way we channel those funds, in ways that support social and environmental goals as well as economic ones. It is how about money is spent to strengthen people empowerment and community resilience.”
Meanwhile, one of the highlights of the symposium was the presentation of findings from a study conducted by UNDP to assess development finance landscape in all ASEAN countries. According to this study, extreme poverty has fallen significantly across ASEAN, however, there still remain many working poor and vulnerability to falling back into poverty is high. Among others, the study encouraged countries to establish a stronger basis for financing policies through the systematic costing of development plans and policies and establishing comprehensive long-term financing strategies.
Prior to the symposium, participants interacted with local communities in the Doi Tung Development Project located in Chiang Rai to get the people’s views on sustainable development. The conversations pointed to the important role of the local people in achieving balance between making a living and sustaining development for the future.
The ASEAN-China-UNDP Symposium on Financing Implementation of the SDGs in ASEAN was organized by the ASEAN Secretariat in collaboration with the UNDP and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage and funding support from the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund.