UNRC Shoko Noda’s speech at the National Dialogue on SDG Targets

First and foremost, my sincere thanks to the Ministry of Environment and Energy for hosting this event. I am delighted to be a part of this important moment – the first national level dialogue on SDGs in the Maldives.

The Maldives is truly a special country, not only in its beauty, but also its development trajectory. Despite being prone to the effects of climate change, global economic crises and the fluid political environment, Maldivians have come out strong and resilient. We are one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement. We must also keep in mind that these challenges are not unique to us alone. Countries across the Globe battle with inequality, conflict and unsustainable development patterns.

The United Nations with its 193 member states acknowledged these shared realities as a factor and took a bold step to collectively work together to tackle these issues. When the Millennium Development Goals were first adopted in the year 2000, a lot of people were sceptical – many wondered if these goals were actually achievable. The MDGs showed an unprecedented level of ambition.

Year 2015 has showed us the response; we have made huge strides towards the Millennium Development Goals. Of course, not every goal was achieved as intended, but our achievements should not go unacknowledged. The Maldives is an exemplary case for MDGs. Despite the challenges of a Small Island State, Maldives became the first MDG plus country in South Asia. Poverty was reduced from 25% to 8% in 2011. Maternal Mortality rate dropped from 830 (per 100,000 live births) to just 56 in 2011. Universal enrolment in primary education was achieved.

I am sure you will all agree this was the results of focused partnership between the Government, civil society, private sector and even individuals that led the country to this pivotal point.  These achievements demonstrated the country’s robust development with its strong commitment to the social sectors, particularly the health and education sector. The success we have achieved locally should give us the confidence to take greater strides.

The Sustainable Developmental Goals and the broader Agenda 2030, aims to complete what the MDGs could not achieve. As emphasized by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the new SDG framework weaves the Goals together with human rights, the rule of law and women’s empowerment to deliver an integrated approach. It addresses the root causes of poverty and inequality and the universal need for a development framework that works for all people.  The key lesson that we should take away from the MDGs is that we cannot tackle issues in separate silos, we must work together- we have to connect the dots.

The SDGs are also very unique; this has been the first time that a consultation of this scale has ever taken place in the United Nations.  We facilitated national, thematic and global consultations. We also understood the importance of channelling the voices of the young, women and poor into this process. The MY World survey, which was undertaken globally to prepare for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, engaged close to ten million people, of which Maldives was also a participating country. Good education and better health care were voted as the top two priorities for a better life in Maldives.

We must act on this unprecedented step taken by all United Nations Member States last year. This is the time, to translate promises on paper to meaningful action on the ground. We are the generation that can save the world from the disastrous effects of climate change and eradicate poverty for all.

In Maldives young people make up 35% of the population. They should be the key drivers of SDGs. They will be the leaders of the next generation. Their innovative ideas will change how we tackle our developmental challenges – we have to be bold and we have to be prepared to do ‘business as unusual’. Achieving the SDGs can only be possible if we make concerted efforts to address the issues that continue to leave vulnerable groups including children, youth and women behind.

This is why we are here today – to work together to internalize and localize the SDGs, to review and prioritize them accordingly to reflect the needs of the Maldivian people. The ideas and suggestions presented here will guide our respective organizations, to plan activities that will help Maldives achieve the SDGs.

So the question of the day is – how will we take this Agenda forward?

First, achieving these Goals will require strong national ownership intertwined with a whole-of-government approach.  The SDGs are a set of interconnected Goals which requires inclusive multisector coordination. This includes partnerships with civil society organisations, innovators, media, Parliament, and private sector.  Current statistics show that 40% of children, between the ages of 13 to 17 years have been a victim of corporal or emotional punishment. One stakeholder alone cannot address the root causes of this.

Second, prioritising the Goals is crucial. We need to identify Goals that are in line with our developmental priorities. We need to work together to incorporate them into local and national level planning. Alongside this, we also need to promote budgeting for SDGs.  It is through localised solutions we can achieve the Global Goals.

Third, establishing an effective monitoring and reporting mechanism is essential. We should apply lessons learnt from MDGs for our SDG implementation. We should have a strong system in place to monitor SDG milestones and be flexible to adapt to the changing developmental landscape.

Fourth, funding for SDGs – we need to explore old and new mechanisms for SDG financing. It could be domestic, international and even Government Co-Financing or through private partnerships.

Today is therefore an opportune moment – to discuss ways of mainstreaming the SDGs into national development, to put forward practical strategies and plans, and think of concrete ways of operationalizing them, so that we can deliver results that matter to the people.

As the Maldives gets ready to identify an integrated and transformational vision as it progresses its development agenda, we, the United Nations, are ready to stand side by side as your partners. Accelerating progress on the SDG targets should be a driving force for all of us. Through the UNDAF, we look forward to working with the national and local level Government, civil society and other key stakeholders to attain success on the SDG Agenda. I am confident that with our MDG experience and the strong national ownership – evident by the turn out today, we can create a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable Maldives for future generations.


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