Orientation Workshop for the Preparation of the 2023 Voluntary National Review

Key Remarks from Ms. Alissar Chaker, UNDP Resident Representative

December 27, 2022

Ms. Alissar Chaker (in green dress)

©Mao Meas/UNDP Cambodia

Excellency Ketti Settha Pandita CHHAY Than, Senior Minister, Minister of Planning

Excellency TUON Thavrak, Secretary of State, the Ministry of Planning

Excellency THENG Pagnathun, Delegate of the RGC in charge of Director General of Planning

Excellencies, UN colleagues, Ladies, and Gentlemen

I am delighted to participate with you today, representing UNDP and the wider UN family in Cambodia, and to re-emphasize our collective commitment to supporting the acceleration of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the country.  

When the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015, the Member States of the United Nations committed to engage in a systematic follow-up and review of the implementation of the Agenda and its SDGs. A key element of this follow-up and review architecture is the preparation of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and the presentation of their results to the international community at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. The Voluntary National Review, subject of our meeting today, is a process where countries assess and share their national progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda, its SDGs, indicators, and targets in a manner that respects their universal, integrated and interrelated nature across the three dimensions of sustainable development (i.e., economic, social, and environmental dimensions). As reminder, VNRs are not an end, but a means that opens a wide window of opportunities to exchange experience, identify challenges, accelerate implementation, and mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs.

Concurrent crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical tensions and the war in Ukraine, as well as the climate crisis, have delayed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in many parts of the world. For Cambodia, the 2022 UNDP Human Development Report indicated the loss of nearly three years of human development gains between 2020 and 2021, a regression not seen since the civil war. This regression reflects the decline in education, health, nutrition, and poverty outcomes, among others, due to the impacts of the pandemic and other external shocks. Not surprisingly, the General Assembly selected for 2023 the theme “Accelerating the recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. Some SDGs were also selected to zoom into for thematic review during the 2023 High-Level Policy Forum, namely, SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 on industry, innovation, and infrastructure, SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities and SDG 17 on partnerships for the Goals.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

This is the second time Cambodia undertakes this exercise. The first VNR, completed in 2019, reported the majority of Cambodia SDG (CSDG) targets as “ahead” or “on track”, particularly in education, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, climate action, and SDG partnerships.

For this round, we look forward to support national efforts in conducting a good national review and submitting a robust report that:

  • Reflects the universality, integrated, and interrelated nature and dimensions of sustainable development (i.e., economic, social, and environmental dimensions), Leaving No one Behind (LNOB).

  • Ensures meaningful stakeholder engagement, including private sector, civil society, academia, local government, and specific vulnerable groups, among others, and communication on the VNR to the public.

  • Is built on data and evidence.

  • Reflects on planning, implementation, continuity from the first VNR and relevant institutional set-up, SDG-oriented budgeting, and relevant localization strategies of the SDGs.

  • Captures the impacts, response, and effects of COVID-19 on SDGs.

  • Indicates the way for building froward better in line with the Decade of Action for ambitious and accelerated achievement of the SDG.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The SDGs provide us with a visionary roadmap to attain sustainable prosperity, social inclusion, and equality, leaving no one behind, while, at the same time preserving our planet and natural assets. I strongly believe that solid partnerships would allow Cambodia to harness this ambitious vision and resume its growth trajectory, this time round, a trajectory which is more inclusive, resilient to shocks and climate risks, and based in nature-solutions. The COVID-19 wake-up call was harsh and was mainly about inclusion and resilience!

Finally, I would like to commend the CSDGs, which have laid a good foundation for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Cambodia, and I encourage the RGC to increase the ambition to match the Global SDGs.

I wish you all a prosperous 2023.

Thank you.