ASEAN cooperation key to tackling regional challenges

Azlan Othman

“Regional challenges that have caught our attention, especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sustainable development, require regional cooperation to resolve them.

“This is in line with the global call to renew our determination to build a strong, sustainable, and inclusive recovery and to take decisive action together as articulated at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in July 2021.”

This was said by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud at the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Accelerating Actions to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) held virtually at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday.

The minister shared views on attaining the SDGs while also realising the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. He stated that notwithstanding the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sultanate’s efforts to further strengthen SDGs’ implementation have been unwavering since the submission of the first Voluntary National Review (VNR) back in 2020.

The Sultanate is continuing its efforts to advance SDGs implementation by strengthening monitoring and evaluation, addressing existing data gaps and building on collective action.

On this note, he said, available opportunities are explored especially through partnership with various bodies of the United Nations (UN) and tapping into their valuable support.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud attending the event with fellow ASEAN ministers and senior officers. PHOTO: PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE

The minister said that in the context of implementation, the Sultanate maintains the whole-of-nation approach to tying sustainability with day-to-day management. To do so, the government has engaged with more stakeholders including the youth, financial institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to find ways to achieve the goal together.

These partnerships and inclusivity have been emphasised as essential not just at the national level but also regionally, driven by the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (CRF) to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic and complement the efforts of the five critical dimensions of the 2030 Agenda.

Reflecting upon national experience and existing regional cooperation, the minister highlighted two points:

First, inculcating a stronger partnership is essential. How the dialogue can complement and provide further support to the other ASEAN sectoral bodies should be explored, as this is another key for short and long-term successes.

Second, bringing in more important players to support SDGs should be considered. The work done by ASEAN Stats particularly on the publication of the ASEAN SDGs Indicators Baseline Report was commended as they would greatly help to ensure tracking and measuring at national and regional levels.

The minister recommended that the next dialogue feature more diverse stakeholders, including counterparts from the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC), to promote effective and coordinated action across all SDGs goals. On this note, the Sultanate was pleased that such an open dialogue would be held after the closed session, and looked forward to a fruitful discussion.

The dialogue began with opening remarks from Minister of National Development Planning of the Republic of Indonesia and Co-Chair Suharo Monoarfa.

Ministers and senior officers from ASEAN member states also attended.

An open dialogue where experts and stakeholders shared their views on the topic was also held.