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Minsk hosted the First National Sustainable Development Forum
On January 24, Minsk has hosted the First National Sustainable Development Forum gathering over 450 representatives of republican government bodies, local authorities, public organizations, representatives of academia and business circles, the diplomatic corps, international organizations, including the UN agencies.
At the Forum, the participants have discussed the work carried out in the country on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and outlined strategic and practical guidelines for the implementation of the Agenda-2030. The central pillar for the discussion was based on the Concept of the National Sustainable Development Strategy for the period up to 2035, prepared by the Ministry of Economy. The document was distributed to all participants to study and submit their proposals to the developers of the Concept.
The Forum opened with a message from the President of the Republic of Belarus, read by the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Maxim Ryzhenkov. “The program of transformations in the economic, social and environmental fields, which was considered at the UN Summit in 2015, is relevant for the whole world and is highly appreciated by the international community. The objectives of the Agenda-2030 were set at the state level in Belarus long before its adoption of SDGs”, - the Head of State noted.
Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich spoke about the Parliament’s plans to review laws on healthcare, the rights of persons with disabilities and the protection of peatlands in the coming year. The Chairman has also expressed the hope that the participants will come up not only with well-known theses but also develop proposals that will allow Belarus to achieve the ambitious goal of getting to the group of countries with per capita income at par purchasing power parity above the world average by 2025.
In his address to the Forum's participants, the Prime Minister of Belarus Sergei Rumas announced that this year the Government intends to publish National Sustainable Development Strategy, the linking document between the Global Goals and their implementation at the national level. The Prime Minister also reminded the audience that as of February 1, 2019, all bills will be drafted taking into account the compliance of each of them to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressed the participants with a welcoming speech. “SDGs require a new inclusive economy with a value system based on sustainable growth and aimed at eliminating inequality and helping those who are lagging behind,” — Mrs. Mohammed emphasized in her video message, commending Belarus’s willingness to share its experience of working on SDGs at the international level.
The UN Secretary-General Assistant, the UNDP Assistant Administrator, the UNDP Regional Bureau Director for Europe and the CIS Mirjana Spoljarich Egger in her address to the forum participants stressed that the commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals helps the country to achieve results, creating the potential for investment and new business support.
Marianna Shchotkina, the National Coordinator for the implementation of SDGs in Belarus, also welcomed the participants. Speaking as the moderator of the official part of the Forum, Marianna Shchotkina marked the milestones on the way to achieving SDGs, which Belarus has already passed and which have yet to be implemented into reality. The National Coordinator emphasized: “The Forum is a national review of the implementation of the Agenda-2030 in the country. Today we will search for the answer to the question “How are we going to live in 2030?”. Throughout the day we will accept the proposals for the final document of the Forum, which will be sent to the Government, the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus, the Presidential Administration for further consideration".
“At the UN, we highly appreciate the commitment and active participation of Belarus in achieving SDGs. The UN will continue the support of the government and all partners in their further work on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” — Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki, the UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus emphasized.
The Forum was held in the format of plenary and in-session meetings. At each of them, Belarus’s achievements in the economic, social and environmental blocks of sustainable development were presented and examined. The separate session has been dedicated to the issues of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of Agenda 2030. The representatives of government agencies, private business, public and scientific organizations, as well as agencies of the UN system were speaking on the matter at the Forum.
At the Forum, National Statistical Committee presented the National Reporting Platform for Achieving SDGs, the set of 255 indicators selected as the national indicators to measure progress in achieving each of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals. The platform will allow Belarus to present its indicators at the global level and to make informed management decisions at the national level.
In the global Sustainable Development Goals Index, developed to monitor the implementation of SDGs at a global scale, in 2018 Belarus ranked 23 out of 156, receiving the above the average rating for the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region.
The work on the implementation of SDGs in Belarus is systematic. In order to coordinate the work in this direction, the Institute of the National Coordinator was established by presidential decree with Marianna Schotkina being appointed for the position of the National Coordinator.
In the regions, the work on the SDGs implementation is laid upon regional sustainable development groups.
The branches of government work in partnership for the implementation of SDGs in Belarus. Thus, the Parliamentary Group on the SDGs is operating within the National Assembly.
Following one of the basic principles of SDGs — No one will be left behind — the Partnership Group for Sustainable Development has been created. The group is bringing together the representatives of businesses, public organizations, academia, and international organizations to work towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Belarus is actively collaborating on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the international level. In November 2017, the country accepted the UN MAPS expert advisory mission. During the visit, interested government agencies comprehensively discussed with international experts the prospects for work in the field of SDGs. The MAPS expert advisory mission outlined the main acceleration platforms (accelerators) for achieving SDGs in Belarus: green transition to inclusive and sustainable growth, focus on future generations, digital transformation, social innovation, and gender-balanced society.
Belarus is sharing its experience in building the structure and organizing the work on the implementation of SDGs at international forums. Belarus took the initiative to form a partnership of national coordinators for sustainable development. The first step towards the practical implementation of the initiative has translated to the Regional Forum of National Coordinators on Implementation of SDGs, held in Minsk on February 21–22, 2018. In order to develop the initiative, on October 3, 2018, Belarus organized a high-profile round table with partner countries the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Special attention is paid to information work aimed not only at advocacy but informing the broader public as well. The information about the SDGs was posted on billboards and TV channels, in the media and on sdgs.by the website dedicated to the implementation of SDGs in Belarus.
The comic book contest “Superheroes for SuperGoals” was held as a part of activities on involving youth in the Agenda-2030. Over 500 works were submitted for the competition. The winners were awarded on January 24, 2019, at a solemn ceremony at the Forum. A special issue of the children's magazine “Vyaselka” was devoted to SDGs in Belarus was issued prior to the Forum. The young ambassadors for the implementation of SDGs were awarded diplomas at the Forum as well.
Full video recording of the Forum is available on the UN Belarus YouTube channel.
For more photos from the Forum check the photo gallery of the site.