14 December 2020
Pacific Islands Report on SDG Efforts for Blue Pacific
Photo Credit: Leighton Lum
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The 2020 Biennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report measures the region’s progress on the SDGs and examines the region’s processes for Voluntary National Reviews.

The Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum said the report “confirms the slow progress on our development targets in the Pacific”.

The report makes recommendations for nine action areas.

At the two-year mark of the Pacific region’s sustainable development plan, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has released an update report measuring progress on the SDGs. It focuses on nine action areas contained in the 2018 Quadrennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report that aim to contextualize the SDGs to Pacific realities.

The nine action areas, which align with a commitment by the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders, are:

  1. Addressing vulnerability and increasing inequality;
  2. Tackling gender gaps and high youth unemployment;
  3. Continuing to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth;
  4. Intensifying multi-sector efforts with increased finance to address non-communicable diseases;
  5. Strengthening efforts to tackle the dual threats of climate change and disasters;
  6. Addressing the consequences of population growth and poor waste management practices;
  7. Continuing to address de-risking issues and the high cost of sending remittances;
  8. More effective use of existing and new finance and stronger coordination; and
  9. Increasing investment in the collection and use of timely and accurate disaggregated data.

The report makes recommendations for the nine action areas. To address vulnerability and reduce inequality, it recommends that countries strengthen existing social protection and economic empowerment measures, develop education policies and programs to promote disability inclusive education, and mainstream an inclusive approach to ensure all development, including COVID-19 response and recovery, delivers shared benefits that include vulnerable groups.

To promote sustainable, equitable economic growth, the authors recommend that countries address the lack of data, methodologies and limited statistical capacity in the region to monitor SDG progress, adopt the Action Plan for the Regional Longline Fisheries Strategy, with indicators to measure progress, and support the work of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to improve labor conditions and address modern slavery conditions in the fisheries sector.

To build resilience and tackle climate change and natural disasters, countries are urged to ensure that local, national, and regional climate change adaptation planning process are effective and informed by up-to-date information.

The report also examines the Pacific region’s processes on the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), by which several countries decide to report to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The report points to opportunities for strengthening capacity to involve stakeholders at national and sub-national levels, ways to strengthen linkages between budgets and plans, and ways to build and sustain data to better inform policy, planning, and budgets.

Nine member countries of the Pacific Island Forum had produced VNRs by 2019 and four more countries reported in 2020. The 2019 VNRs identified a number of challenges facing the national governments that reported: human and institutional capacity constraints; lack of political will and ownership to respond to the cross-sectoral nature of sustainable development; lack of alignment at national level with global and regional commitments, including the importance of localizing global goals, targets and indicators, lack of stakeholder engagement with government agencies, civil society and the private sector; limited capacity to collect and analyze data; and insufficient financial resources and capacity for resource mobilization.

On gender equality, the PIF report reaffirms the need to increase the participation of women in Pacific economies, and the need to reduce the high rate of violence against women and girls. The report also reviews progress under the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration (PLEGD) and analyzes country progress reports for the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 25-year review. The report recommends advocating for decent work opportunities for all and continuing to address the root causes of gender inequality.

On the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Pacific, the report states that it has caused “unprecedented disruption” and is “likely to undo gains previously reported in 2018” as well as in the last two years. The report observes that COVID-19 has affected the region’s good progress towards sustainability in the fisheries sector, efforts to address the high costs of remittances, and progress to improve returns and increase community involvement in tourism.

At the report’s launch, PIF Secretary-General Meg Taylor said the report “confirms the slow progress on our development targets in the Pacific.” Despite some significant achievements, she said the report highlights increasing vulnerabilities, deepening inequalities, and limited access to infrastructure and basic services, including inconsistent access to affordable and quality health care, and a need to improve access to quality education. She called for the region to work together to accelerate progress on SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 14 (life below water), and SDG 15 (life on land). 

Taylor also highlighted the Forum’s ongoing work to develop the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, and she said that at least 90% of its member countries are expected to have completed their first or undertaken their second VNR by 2022. [Publication: 2020 Biennial Pacific Sustainable Development Report: Ensuring Pacific People’s well-being through the Blue Pacific identity, the proposed 2050 Strategy and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development] [Remarks of PIF Secretary-General

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