The session of the National Council for Sustainable Development was chaired by the Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazović.
Dear Prime Minister Abazović, Dear Ministers, Draga Aneta,
It is my profound pleasure to join you today at the First session of the reinvigorated National Council for Sustainable Development.
This meeting is an important milestone. Today, we should commend Montenegro for having aspirational and visionary leadership in 1992, when the Declaration on Ecological State was adopted and this noble principle enshrined in all the constitutions ever since. It is also time to remember that the first Council for Sustainable Development was incepted two decades ago, and ever since played a role in national policy making processes. The role of the Council changed over time, along with its positioning, strength and influence, but one thing remained – it was always a reminder of the path setting role that Montenegro plays in the region and beyond.
This meeting is an important milestone. It summarises two-year efforts of repositioning the Office for Sustainable Development under the auspices of the Prime Minister and restructuring the Council for Sustainable Development as the platform for high-level policy making, strategic discussion and coordination of transformational policies. Montenegro should be proud of this move that clearly shows where the national development priorities are.
But this meeting is only a milestone towards the final goal – achieving ambitious Sustainable Development Goals set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The United Nations office in Montenegro was and will be a reliable partner in this process. Just to name several important joint achievements in the last two years
- Institutional. Reinvigorating the council for Sustainable Development and strengthening the Office for Sustainable is a major political and strategic policy statement. The expectation is that this statement will materialise through capacitating the Office for Sustainable Development to address the complex and multidimensional challenges of sustainable development.
- Policy. National Strategy for Sustainable Development still offers a relevant policy framework, that also needs political empowerment - now provided through the Council. Capacities of the state administration are enhanced so to integrate climate change risks into planning. Montenegro, however, still lack effective policy coordination and mainstreaming mechanisms. This means that we miss the opportunity to yield on gains of coordination and to achieve much more results with less effort and means.
- Financing. Together with the Ministry of Finance, we are looking into state budget expenditure and mapping it against the SDGs. When merged with indicators, data and results, this will give us a clear signal what areas of sustainable development are underfunded, or which are well-funded but we miss to achieve tangible results. Poverty is one of the examples – we spend a lot of money on poverty alleviation measures. Still, every fourth Montenegrin lives in the risk of poverty.
- Reporting and data. Just recently we piloted SDG Dashboard, together with Monstat and the Office for Sustainable Development – a platform where you can easily find and search existing SDG indicators. Increasing transparency and availability of data will also increase accountability and boost evidence-based policy making. We also hope that the Statistical System of Montenegro will get additional support to produce more reliable datasets so to support you in your daily work of improving livelihoods for people in Montenegro – because, first and foremost, that is our job.
Finally, Office for Sustainable Development should also be commended for achieving many important results in a very short period of time. One of these results is presentation of the Voluntary National Review – a stocktaking analysis of where Montenegro stands when it comes to achieving SDGs. We hope that findings of this report will feature in the policy deliberations and policies that you are producing.
Your presence today shows that we are on the right track. It seems that the political will is here – in this room and in this Government. Still, we need to act. Now. Not only for Montenegro, but for the world. We need to transform the political will into action. And action into results.
Remember, when we talk about sustainable development, we talk about cleaner, safer and healthier world. If you take a look into EU Acquis, apart from the functioning free and joint market, it talks about exactly the same - cleaner, safer and healthier world.
Every step towards the EU is step towards the sustainable future. And vice versa. There is even a study that was done with the Montenegrin EU Negotiation structure that proved that some 65% of the 2030 Agenda is addressed through the EU Accession process. Again, we come to the point of coordination and being smart – achieving more with less.
We expect that the Council will be exactly that – a vibrant policy making body where we will be able to achieve more with less. A platform for interactive, co-creative and collaborative dialogues for development.
We expect that the Office for Sustainable Development will continue to have a prominent role in institutional positioning, while with enough capacity to carry out the demanding work ahead.
With these great ideas in mind, I would like to thank you and once again, congratulate on the major milestone.