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Seminar urges development goal reform

Update: April, 18/2015 - 08:55
Labourers work at a Da Nang Foster Electronics Co. Ltd factory in the southern province of Kien Giang. It helps give stable jobs to 1,120 local people, contributing to sustainable development in the region. Job creation is a major goal for Viet Nam as it looks to develop its economy in the long term. — VNA/VNS Photo Le Sen
HA NOI  (VNS) — The different orientation and strategies needed to shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were discussed by senior Vietnamese officials and international experts at a seminar in Ha Noi yesterday.

Addressing the unfinished MDG agenda must be first order of business for the post 2015 framework, both at the global and national levels, said Pratibha Mehta, United Nations' Resident Co-ordinator in Viet Nam.

"We recognise that Viet Nam is already engaged in this process – through newly adopted action plans for ethnic minority development and for improved health and nutrition."

"While Viet Nam's national scorecard is impressive, significant unfinished business remains, nationally on some MDGs and sub-nationally among some population groups and provinces," she added.

Tran Quoc Phuong of the Ministry of Planning and Investment said that there were many obstacles that had hindered Viet Nam from meeting all eight MDGs by the end of this year.

For example, developing an institutional framework for the goals was difficult because there were differences between global and national criteria and standards. At a time of declining international financial support, mobilising the resources needed for achieving the MDGs became even more of a challenging task.

However, the country's significant achievements should be acknowledged, he said.

Phuong said Viet Nam completed its first goal of eradication of extreme poverty and hunger in 2012, ahead of schedule.

The poverty rate has dropped from 58.1 per cent in 1993 to 9.6 per cent in 2012. Now the rate is about 6 per cent.

The country also achieved universal primary education in 2010 and is on its way toward reaching universal secondary and higher secondary education. By 2012, net enrolment rate for primary education had reached 97.7 per cent.

Viet Nam has also basically met its gender equality and women empowerment targets.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said that the seminar was an opportunity to share results and experiences in the process of reaching MDGs, adding that it would also help the process of setting a foundation for the post-2015 development agenda.

The eight MDGs, ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, was established in 2000 by the United Nations. All goals were expected to be met by 2015.

The new post-2015 development agenda builds on the MDGs. Seminar participants agreed that while enormous progress had been made towards the goals, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets, the indignity of poverty had not been ended for all.

They noted that UN members were now in the process of defining SDGs as part of the new agenda that must finish the job of the MDGs and leave no one behind.

This agenda is expected to be adopted at the Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.

Thomas Grass, assistant secretary-general for Policy Co-ordination and Inter-Agency Affairs with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that the MDGs were a strategic plan to be able to respond to the most urgent problems in developing countries.

The SDGs are quite different in that after long discussions between 193 countries, they have "come up with not so much a plan to deal with the problem of yourself but much more of a shared vision of humanity in 2030."

Therefore, to achieve the SDGs, "we have to re-orient the whole economy, we have to change the way we are doing business," he said, adding that this would require everybody's commitment and involvement, "so that our economy can grow, but in a way that leaves no one behind and in a way that protects the planet."

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg noted that given Viet Nam's young population, its sustainable development would depend on creating more jobs. — VNS

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