Voluntary National Review Country Capacity Building Workshop for Pacific SIDS

November 1, 2018

Distinguished participants, Ambassadors

VNR focal points from Fiji, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, Timor Leste and Vanuatu

Ms. Noumea Peseta, CEO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa

Mr Sainivalati Navoti from UNDESA’s SIDS Unit

Representative of the Regional Organizations in the Pacific

UN colleagues

Ladies and gentlemen:

Talofa lava and a warm welcome to this workshop to all of you!

Firstly, I want to congratulate you and your governments for your willingness and enthusiasm to undertake the Voluntary National Review process in 2019. It is a testament to the excellent start that the Pacific region has made on implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, that we will have five Pacific Island Countries reporting in a single year – or, indeed, seven countries, if you include our colleagues from Timor Leste and New Zealand.

It is no small undertaking, and colleagues from Samoa can attest to that, having led the charge earlier in the global process.

The VNR is a vital and integral tool to document progress, present data, highlight challenges and invigorate partnerships for national development and for SDG achievement. The Reviews form the key information input into the High-Level Political Forum (or HLPF) and give the UN membership a detailed picture of SDG progress at national, regional and global levels.

I hope you also see the value of the VNR as a tool to complement, build upon and strengthen your own national processes to localize the SDGs and to reflect your priorities. The UN System agencies have been particularly pleased to support a range of activities in this area, and I know from speaking with my colleagues working with you in these areas, that they are very impressed and heartened by the work you have led at country level.

One particular aspect of the VNR process I want to draw your attention to is the focus on stakeholder engagement and ensuring that a full range of voices are heard and reflected. This is particularly central to our work under the 2030 Agenda to ensure that no one is left behind. I encourage you to bring together as many of your stakeholders as possible, talk with them and listen to them – share experiences, successes, challenges and lessons learned. It is these processes which inform inclusive development, encourage fairness and ensure that everyone – especially those left behind the furthest – have their say.

UNDESA, UNDP, UNESCAP, and our colleagues at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, SPC and other regional organizations, look forward to supporting you as best we can over the coming months. I am very pleased to see the practical focus of today’s agenda, which will give you a deep dive into the VNR building blocks and process steps. I hope it assists you to advance your national approach to completing your VNR and identify what support you may require.

We have some of your key partners in the UN system and CROP network present here today, so please count on us to work collaboratively to support you.

Let me conclude by saying that your VNR efforts will influence the SDG achievement work regionally. It will effectively contribute to acceleration efforts in the entire region and help convey the Pacific SDG story on the global stage.

I look forward to hearing your presentations at the HLPF next year and wish you all the best for the workshop today, and for the work ahead.

Faafetai, Vinaka vakalevu, Tubwa, Ke mesulang, Malo 'aupito, Obrigadu, and Tenkyu tumas.