There are 17 goals on sustainable development that every country from around the globe has committed to achieving by the year 2030. With each country being unique, several of the goals may not be applicable to all and with that in mind, representatives from various sectors ranging from Fisheries, Forestry, Urban Planning, Agriculture, Climate Change and others have come together to find the goals that are more applicable to Belize and thus charting the way forward. Karen Bernard is the Deputy Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme who spoke to Love News on the 2-day event and what it seeks to get done.
Voice 1: These are goals that pretty much every country in the world was basically able to come together and through a long process of discussion and perfecting the goals was able to agree that these are the 17 goals that all the countries in the world have signed on to, that we are trying to achieve together. So that is very meaningful to have that kind of agreement. As you can imagine in the chaotic world that we live in, as we well know Belize is a small country but a very unique country and a very courageous country but Belize would not be taking on all 17 goals nor would any country. What Belize will do and I think this is the process going on now is that all of the organizations, the partners in Belize will come together and decide which of these seventeen goals Belize would focus on, which are important to Belize because not all of them have the same level of importance and so that is what I think Belize is doing now. So then after this meeting when we work on that a little bit more and pretty soon we’ll know which of these goals Belize is focusing on .
As we mentioned, this is a global undertaking which is beyond major; but what is it that has happened over the years that now requires such a universal approach? We asked Bernard to weigh in on this.
Voice 1: I think this goes back to the year 2000 which was the of millennium and back then global leaders were looking around, the UN system had been in existence for decades and countries had been trying to move forward but in the year 2000 which was a decisive change of millennium world leaders saw that there were a lot of problems in the world, a lot of difficulties for people, different dynamics going on so they decided to have what we call “millennium development goals” that was I believe was the first time there was an international framework of goals that people could work towards and all the countries signed on to the millennium development goals, that was for a fifteen year period. When that finished a lot of things had been accomplished in a number of countries on some of the goals but there was still work to be done, what we call unfinished business. So as a result of that this idea of coming together around global goals and commitment that had worked well and that helped people to focus and understand where progress was being made and what still needed to be done. So then the newest version of that was called the Sustainable development goals but it’s more complicated since the millennium development were eight goals and now we have seventeen goals. It’s the idea of having this framework that brings all the countries in the world together and pretty much with the same purpose. I think that is a beautiful thing that all the countries come together, development partners need to support the countries because the governments are the protagonists, the governments of course represent their population so they are leading that process but also we want this to be inclusive. The UN is supporting this because we also want not just the governments to be held accountable but all of the members of the population, different interest groups to be included in this undertaking.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Dr Omar Figueroa also spoke with Love News on the importance of today’s event for all sectors in Belize.
Voice 1: This is extremely important for our country. Developing in a sustainable manner is key to the future of this country and we need to ensure that we involve all parties as we do so. So this workshop in particular is extremely important. We see all the key players in sustainable development right here. As we develop we need to make sure that we are not compromising our future in the process and that is essentially what these workshops are part about; you don’t want to develop in a manner that you compromise your future. We have tourism, we depend on tourism, we depend of fisheries and agriculture, we want to make sure that these things are available for our country fifty plus years down the road. The first major step is that you have to make everybody a part of the process. It needs to be participatory, we need to have all the key players here today so that when we come to a decision on the way forward they all have been able to input what is important to them and what is important to fisheries, what is important to climate change, private sector, all the stakeholders have to be here and if we develop from this workshop a plan on the way forward and we have input from all of them then we can take these papers to a different level, develop a policy on it and let that policy start to guide our sustainable development. So because we have the participation of all the key stakeholders when agriculture decides to move forward it knows that it’s moving in harmony with other departments and the other sectors that can and would be affected.
Dr Figueroa was the keynote speaker in the official opening of the workshop this morning at the Princess Ramada Hotel. Today’s sessions included the introduction to the 2030 agenda and the transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals as well as policy integration and synergies. Facilitator over the next two days is Dr Seleshi Awulachew (AH-WOO-LA-CHU) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.