Regional Conference “Sustainable Development in the Western Balkans” provided a high-level regional platform for discussing the sustainable development.
Dear Prime Minister Abazović, Dear Ministers, Your Excellencies, Representatives of the Western Balkans,
It is my great pleasure to join you today and extend a welcome at the Second Western Balkans Conference on Sustainable Development.
The United Nations is joining forces today with the Regional School for Public Administration and the Government of Montenegro to host this platform for partnerships and dialogues on sustainable development.
So, first and foremost, let me thank Montenegro – the Prime Minister Abazović and Aneta Kankaraš, Head of the Office for Sustainable Development – for their leadership in hosting this conference. Some prominent results were achieved in Montenegro in only one year since the Office for Sustainable Development moved under the auspices of the Prime Minister.
I believe you will hear more about these achievements in the coming two days so I will just mention a few – Montenegro repositioned the Office for Sustainable Development, re-established the Sustainable Development Council, conducted SDG Financing landscape analysis, developed concept Dialogues for Development, published SDG Dashboard, produced second Voluntary National Review, and many things more. So - Aneta, dear Prime Minister, wholeheartedly congratulations.
I would also like to thank ReSPA for the critical role they are playing, not only for this conference, but beyond – for being a common thread for the public administration in the Western Balkans and creating a region that is better governed and better served.
This conference creates a platform for partnership and dialogue. I believe these are the key words revolving around the concept of sustainable development.
Sustainable Development Agenda is a complex blueprint for halting climate change, fight poverty and inequality while improving systems of education and health. The Agenda has 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 169 targets. 240+ indicators. It is overarching and global policy framework for preserving the world as we know it for the generations to come.
And, it is not easy - it is not easy to understand it, translate it in local context, it is not easy to implement it and achieve SDGs. When they adopted it in 2015, the world leaders were aware of it. That is why they proposed a sole goal on partnerships - a call to work together. To exchange and learn from each other – from our mistakes and failures, as well as our wins and successes.
This was the main motive for the United Nations to engage in hosting this Conference.
We are here to learn from each other. To talk. To better understand challenges we face. And to find common solutions.
Climate change knows no borders. Polluted rivers do not need passports. Polluted air travels with no respect to political hurdles. In the interconnected world, economic gains and losses are shared and easily spill over political borders. And, if the challenges have no borders, let’s create a space where solutions and knowledge have no border neither.
The Western Balkans Conference on Sustainable Development aims to become an annual capstone event, an important point of exchange on various dimensions of sustainable development – institutional setup, policy coordination, financing for sustainable development, reporting and data, localisations, and many more.
We are lucky that in the Western Balkans we have a strong partner in the European Union, whose leadership was critical when the 2030 Agenda was developed. A recent study developed by the United Nations and the Montenegrin EU Negotiation structure showed that the EU accession process corresponds to 65% of SDG targets. In other words - step towards the EU is step towards the sustainable future. And vice versa.
Let us build on that.
Let us build partnership that will deliver on the promise to leave no one behind. All of us. Jointly.
I wish you fruitful deliberations in the days to come, and hope to see you next year in another country in the region.