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Sustainable goals target pushed back

Sorn Sararth / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen believes COVID-19 has pushed back the timeline to reach sustainable goals to improve people’s livelihoods. KT/Mark Hughes

The Cambodian Prime Minister has suggested that the deadline of 2030 to achieve the goals of sustainable development (SDGs) might need to be reset because the progress of the agenda has been affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SDGs, also known as Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

In his remarks at the leaders’ meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that this disruption stems from a number of reasons, including a decline in efforts by each member state because of a need to shift policy priorities and resources to combat Coronavirus and the growing adherence to nationalism and protectionism by some global superpowers.

He said efforts to achieve the 2030 agenda for multilateralism, globalisation and other frameworks of international cooperation were being undermined.

“Certainly, this requires a thorough reassessment of all aspects, including the timeframe, strategic direction, action plans and resources for achieving our agenda in the aftermath of COVID-19,” he said.

The prime minister highlighted some priority works related to financing, which is an important means to serve developing countries in their efforts to achieve the 2030 agenda.

He said there was a need to promote trade policy and trade facilitation as well as to provide preferential treatment to developing countries to ensure the benefits from globalisation are equitably and effectively shared.

He added providing incentives to promote private investment and capital flow to developing countries is required, particularly the promotion of foreign direct investment and public-private partnership mechanisms.

“[We must] continue to strengthen financial stability, diversification and innovation, as well as promote the role and dynamism of the private sector to fulfil the financial needs to achieve the SDGs,” he added. “[It is necessary to] ensure the continuity of international aid, especially financial assistance to developing countries geared towards sustaining the momentum of reform for the 2030 agenda.”

Mr Hun Sen said, in this context, each country needs to turn the threat of COVID-19 into opportunities for domestic reforms to strengthen economic competitiveness, create a conducive business environment and strengthen government revenue collection.

He added each country, moreover, needs to prioritise public expenditure towards sectors directly related to the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, including education, health, social protection, agriculture and infrastructure.

“I would like to reiterate that Cambodia is ready to join all relevant development partners, both bilateral and multilateral, in contributing to the efforts to restore the socio-economic situation and promote prosperity for all in the post-COVID-19 era,” he said.

The Asian Development Bank has revised its 2020 Cambodian growth forecast to minus 4 percent from its previous prediction of minus 5.4 percent in June because of improved agricultural performance and increased volume of non-garment manufacturing. However, the World Bank projected negative growth of -2.0 percent in 2020.

While still classified as a Least Developed Country, Cambodia’s strong economic growth was reflected in its graduation to a lower middle-income country status in 2016.

The government’s vision for 2050 includes promoting economic inclusion and environmental sustainability to ensure Cambodia becomes an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

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