UNITED NA­TIONS IN­TENDS TO AS­SIST THE SMALL NA­TION LO­CALISE ITS 17 SDGS ‘Just this week, the UN held con­sul­ta­tions with Nauru to in­form the de­vel­op­ment of the UN Pa­cific Strat­egy – the doc­u­ment that will guide the UN’s work in the Pa­cific for the pe­riod 20

Fiji Sun - - Big Story - Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­ Os­nat Lubrani

United Na­tions Res­i­dent Co-or­di­na­tor for Nauru, Os­nat Lubrani, was re­cently in Nauru to lead con­sul­ta­tions on the UN’s Pa­cific Strat­egy. Here she ex­plains why the achieve­ment of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals re­ally mat­ters, and how the UN is com­mit­ted to work­ing with the Pa­cific’s mi­crostates in new and bet­ter ways.

The tiny Mi­crone­sian na­tion of Nauru is of­ten in the news be­cause of the host­ing of the Re­gional Pro­cess­ing Cen­tre for asy­lum­seek­ers, but it is also a na­tion that faces se­ri­ous chal­lenges to ad­vanc­ing its na­tional sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment agenda on many fronts. With just 21 square kilo­me­tres of land (8 per cent of which is un­us­able be­cause of the im­pact of phos­phate min­ing), just 10,000 cit­i­zens, con­strained in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­i­ties, the now-con­stant im­pacts of cli­mate change, high lev­els of obe­sity-re­lated health is­sues and a heavy de­pen­dence on for­eign as­sis­tance – the road to fu­ture de­vel­op­ment and im­prove­ments in qual­ity of life for Nau­ru­ans is not an easy one. Nauru be­gun this work more than 10 years ago with the de­vel­op­ment of its Na­tional Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Strat­egy which out­lines a jour­ney to­wards: “a fu­ture where in­di­vid­ual, com­mu­nity, busi­ness and govern­ment part­ner­ships con­trib­ute to a sus­tain­able qual­ity of life for all Nau­ru­ans” A process to up­date this im­por­tant doc­u­ment will be­gin later this year, and this presents an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for all stake­hold­ers to come to­gether for deep dis­cus­sions on fu­ture na­tional pri­or­i­ties and the de­vel­op­ment of gen­uinely in­clu­sive de­vel­op­ment agenda. Nauru will also use this op­por­tu­nity to con­sider how the glob­ally-agreed Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGs) are best in­te­grated into na­tional goals and tar­gets. The United Na­tions looks for­ward to sup­port­ing Nauru in this work and we see much po­ten­tial for co-op­er­a­tion, col­lab­o­ra­tion and part­ner­ship. Just this week, the UN held con­sul­ta­tions with Nauru to in­form the de­vel­op­ment of the UN Pa­cific Strat­egy – the doc­u­ment that will guide the UN’s work in the Pa­cific for the pe­riod 2018 - 22. Through our Pa­cific Strat­egy the UN will en­deav­our to sup­port Nauru’s de­vel­op­ment plans by sup­port­ing ef­forts to Nauru to ‘lo­calise’ the 17 SDGs and make them best de­liver for all.

This process of lo­cal­i­sa­tion is very im­por­tant, and it de­mands open par­tic­i­pa­tion, con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment with com­mu­ni­ties and other stake­hold­ers. Such pro­cesses are not al­ways easy, but again, the UN is com­mit­ted to as­sist­ing Nauru to strengthen its demo­cratic pro­cesses and give voice to all cit­i­zens. The UN pro­motes con­sul­ta­tion and par­tic­i­pa­tory process be­cause de­vel­op­ment de­pends on it, and with­out it we will not achieve the SDGs. The fact is that three of 17 goals, - Goal 5 (gen­der equal­ity) Goal 10 (re­duc­ing in­equal­i­ties) and Goal 16 (build­ing peace and strong in­sti­tu­tions) have cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion and in­clu­sive de­vel­op­ment plan­ning at their very heart is recog­ni­tion of its im­por­tance.

At a na­tional level, the Pa­cific Strat­egy will out­line the UN’s com­mit­ment to co-op­er­ate with Nauru on a path­way to achiev­ing the global Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals by 2030 and will out­line how we will scale up our as­sis­tance (fi­nan­cial and tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise) to sup­port these ef­forts. The SDGs gives us the game-plan, but we will have to co-op­er­ate in new and innovative ways to make them a real­ity. I be­lieve the UN can be a very gen­uine part­ner to Nauru on this path­way to 2030 as we can en­gage in an un­bi­ased and neu­tral way – our fo­cus is on par­tic­i­pa­tion, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and en­sur­ing that no-one is left be­hind.

At our re­cent con­sul­ta­tions, while many dif­fi­cult is­sues were can­vassed and dis­cussed, there was a pos­i­tive tone, and an emerg­ing open­ness by all to hear dif­fer­ent views and in­crease par­tic­i­pa­tion. We en­joyed par­tic­i­pa­tion from the Govern­ment, from com­mu­ni­ties, from pri­vate sec­tor and from stu­dents at a lo­cal high school.

To me this sort of par­tic­i­pa­tion is at the very heart of how we will achieve the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals by 2030 and re­flects a Pa­cific ap­proach to Pa­cific de­vel­op­ment – own­er­ship and buy-in needs to con­tinue to move away from the head­quar­ters, dis­tant cap­i­tals and bu­reau­cra­cies to­wards the lo­cal. It is this sort of ap­proach that will gen­uinely empower com­mu­ni­ties to own and buy-in to their own lo­cal de­vel­op­ment.

Fi­nally, I want to make it clear that there is an un­de­ni­able need for new long and medium-term al­ter­na­tives for Nauru, cur­rent in­comes sources will even­tu­ally be ex­hausted and are not sus­tain­able – our con­sul­ta­tions made that clear, but I be­lieve con­struc­tive sup­port and an open di­a­logue is how the UN can sup­port and en­liven this change. Friends of Nauru who sup­port its eco­nomic growth must work to­gether to en­sure that Nauru’s path to pros­per­ity (and the achieve­ment of SDG 1 – End­ing Poverty) pro­motes sus­tain­abil­ity, and re­mains fo­cused on hu­man rights. Here we can learn from the past cy­cle of boom and bust and utilise new ap­proaches to cre­at­ing in­come that do not un­der­mine other im­por­tant ar­eas of de­vel­op­ment also rep­re­sented un­der the SDG ban­ner. We ended our con­ver­sa­tions in Nauru with an ad­mis­sion by all – that no mat­ter what the chal­lenges, there is a need for more in­clu­sive ap­proach, to build bridges, find re­spect for dif­fer­ing opin­ions and de­velop ways of work­ing these dif­fer­ence out in the spirit of democ­racy. Re­flect­ing on this sen­ti­ment I feel a great deal of pos­i­tiv­ity re­gard­ing the work the UN can do in part­ner­ship with Nauru. I look for­ward to deep­en­ing the UN re­la­tion­ship with Nauru and work­ing to­gether to make the at­tain­ment of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals a real­ity in the Pa­cific.

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