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UNDP Global

Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator at the official launch of the ASEAN MY World Survey with ASEAN Foreign Ministers. Credit: UNDP.

As prepared for delivery. 

I am delighted to welcome you on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme and the UN SDG Action Campaign to the launch of the ASEAN MY World Survey. 

Let me first take the opportunity to congratulate ASEAN on its 50th anniversary. I would like to commend ASEAN members for their significant achievements in economic growth, poverty reduction and human development over the last decades. ASEAN – taken as a whole - is today among the largest economies in the world.  The combined ASEAN poverty rate declined from 47 percent in 1990 to 14 percent in 2015, well surpassing the ASEAN MDG target . All ASEAN countries now record medium to high and very high levels of human development.

Despite these accomplishments, ASEAN countries are not immune to key challenges–such as economic and financial risks, natural hazards, and the impact of climate change, as well as major megatrends (and opportunities and challenges they bring) such as rapid demographic shifts, including urbanization and migration. 

Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, and despite existing challenges, we are witnessing sustained support not only from governments, but also from all stakeholders, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in the next thirteen years. The unprecedented level of participation during the consultation phase was a true testimony of the will from the UN and Member States to integrate the voices of the people in the definition of the new Agenda. 

The MY World 2015 survey, which collected peoples´ opinions about the future they want in the lead up to the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, showed how it is possible to bring people’s voices into the heart of global policy making. Over 1000 civil society partners helped to bring the survey to 10 million citizens across the world, including a quarter of a million from the ASEAN region. MY World 2015 was an integral part of the global conversation to help shape the 2030 Agenda and the results were fed into every part of the political process.  

Since then, the leadership demonstrated by people and governments clearly established that the voices of “We the peoples” will continue to be relevant during the implementation phase.

The transformative essence of the 2030 Agenda calls for broad-based ownership and for a proactive and continuous dialogue between citizens and representatives to ensure that no one and no SDG is left behind. Today’s event is a great example of how Member States are looking for ways to open up spaces to integrate people’s voices in monitoring the progress and achievement of the goals. It is a remarkable endeavour that shows regional will to listen to their citizens and promote active participation. I look forward to seeing the results of the MY World 2030 survey in the region, and our hope is to see this same initiative replicated in other regions as well.

I am very pleased that you are taking the lead in this approach and that the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda share common principles and values of people-centered development and leaving no-one behind. These agendas both balance the relationship between human needs and their environment, and acknowledge that no single group or entity can do it alone. As such, multi-stakeholder participation and inclusion are recognized as key drivers of success; however there is still a need to increase public awareness and ownership. 

The ASEAN MY World survey will increase public awareness and capture priorities and perceptions of progress on the agendas. The objective of the survey is to help ASEAN Member States interpret peoples’ aspirations towards the ASEAN Community Vision and the SDGs at the national and regional level, and subsequently help shape policy recommendations and plans of action for ASEAN Member States to achieve the agenda/vision in a timely manner. 

Let me also take the opportunity to highlight that UNDP has a long-standing partnership with ASEAN.  We are honoured and privileged to work with ASEAN that has today matured into a community focused on economic integration, shared prosperity, and consensus-building. UNDP has been supporting ASEAN in the implementation of the ASEAN-UN Plan of Action (2016-2020) including in the areas of building peace and political security; promoting good governance; standing up for human rights and rule of law, and promoting access to justice; and managing disaster risks and improving resilience; among others. UNDP continues to collaborate with ASEAN to strengthen multi-sectoral national responses to meet public health issues and better manage the environment such as through the joint project “Reducing Pollution and Preserving Environmental Flows in the East Asian Seas through the Implementation of Integrated River Basin Management in Eight ASEAN Countries”.

In the coming year, we will also be working with several ASEAN Member States to support the preparations of their Voluntary National Reviews at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. A number of ASEAN member states have already done so in the past two years and have set a high standard for the region and globally. Their reviews reflect the strong commitment from the region and the plethora of best practices that can inform the world.

Today, we are privileged and honoured to have all of you, Excellencies, showing your commitment towards your people, listening to their voices, as you make progress to achieve the SDGs on your path to peace and prosperity.