On February 12, 2016, The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Bureau announced the establishment of an Independent Team of Advisors to support Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prof. Armida Alisjahbana, a professor from Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Padjadjaran and also a former director of CEDS UNPAD is appointed as one of its members.
She previously served as Minister of National Development Planning / Head of the National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS) in Indonesia (2009-2014). She has worked extensively as a researcher, consultant, and expert for international organizations, such as the UNU Institute for Advanced Study in Tokyo, the World Bank, ADB, AusAID, the European Commission, and ILO. She also held the position of the co-chair of the Global Partnership (2013-2014) alongside Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Minister of Finance, Nigeria) and Ms. Justine Greening (Secretary of State for International Development, UK).
CEDS Researcher, Yangki Suara had a unique opportunity of speaking with Prof. Armida in her office at Faculty of Economics and Business, Universitas Padjadjaran, Jalan Cimandiri No. 6-8, Bandung, West Java. We discussed various topics related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), her experience as the Former co-chair of Global Partnership, and her current activities as a director of SDGs Center at Universitas Padjadjaran.
What will be the main task of the independent team of advisor to UN ECOSOC?
The Independent Team of Advisor to the UN ECOSOC consists of fifteen members including former president, former prime minister, former ministers, academia, and representative from civil society organization (CSO). This team led by two co-chairs, Mr. Juan Somavia of Chile (FormerDirector-General of International Labour Organisation/ILO) and Mr.Klaus Töpfer of Germany (Former Germany Federal Minister for theEnvironment). The main task of the team is to provide a recommendationto re-positioning the UN system to support the implementation of theAgenda 2030 (Sustainable Development Goals/SDGs).
Why the UN System has to be re-positioned to support the implementation of the SDGs?
There are various reasons why the UN System has to be re-positionedtoward the implementation of the SDGs. First, from the SDGs itself andfrom the existing structure of the UN. We know that SDGs is one of themost ambitious development agendas with its 17 goals and 169 targets injust 15 years. Including ending poverty and hunger, improving health andeducation, promoting sustainable economic growth, making cities moresustainable, combating climate change, protecting oceans and forests,and strengthen global partnership for sustainable development. Tosuccessfully in achieving its SDGs, we can’t rely on the existingstructure of the UN system and for some instances becoming morebureaucratic compare to the UN structure in the 1980s. Therefore, there-positioning is needed to make sure that the new UN system canaccommodate the needs to implement the global agenda while maintainingits good governance and its accountability.
Second, there has been a massive change in the global constellationin the past decade. For example, some developing countries are nowclassified as a member of emerging economies and least developedcountries. If in the past we heavily rely on funding for developmentfrom developed countries (United States, Japan, United Kingdom), nowsome emerging economies have contributed to financing the globaldevelopment agenda (e.g. China). In addition, new sources of fundingalso come from the collaboration between private sector and thegovernment through public-private partnership, and also from privateindividuals and communities.
Lastly, there has been a growing number of fragile countries in thepast decade as a result of an endless conflict, stretching from theSub-Saharan region / Northern Africa (Libya, Egypt, Sudan) to the MiddleEast (Iraq, Syria, Yemen) all the way to Asia (Pakistan, Afghanistan).The new UN system is needed to bring peace and security to those regionsand stay throughout the post-conflict recovery and development phase.In short, the UN system should be re-positioned to make it fit withSDGs.
When the recommendation of the independent teams will be discussed by the UN?
The work of the team will be submitted to the UN ECOSOC Bureau and it will be deliberated during the 2016 UN General Assembly in September this year. The agreements from this General Assembly will be the basis for making the new UN development system fit for Agenda 2030 (SDGs).
You also became one of the co-chairs for the Global Partnership between 2013 and 2014. Could you please explain the concept of the Global Partnership as well as its position in the SDGs?
During the Global Partnership meeting, Indonesia as one of theco-chairs of this meeting proposed the implementation of triangularcooperation as an important link between North-South and South-Southcooperation facilitated by third actor from either multilateralorganisations or developed countries. This platform can be used as aknowledge sharing not only between developed countries and developingcountries (North-South), but also between developing countries itself(South-South) with a support and assistance from multilateralorganisations or other develop countries. The co-chair from Nigeria(Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance) proposed the domesticresources mobilisation. The reason is very simple, the developingcountries will not be able to go forward without domestic reforms, suchas tax reform. This will increase state revenue from tax and it canreduce its dependency of foreign aid in building the country.
Ms. Justine Greening, Secretary of State for InternationalDevelopment, co-chair from the UK suggested that it is also important tocollaborate with private sector to transform developing countries intodeveloped world, as we learned from the British experience. During themeeting, we agreed that rather than carry on its own global agenda, theGlobal Partnership will take part in the existing Post-2015 DevelopmentAgenda under SDGs target number 17.
In your view, what is the biggest challenge in implementing SDGs in developing countries?
There are many challenges, especially for developing countries.First, data availability. The availability of data is a key to monitorthe achievement of SDGs targets. Indonesia is very fortunate to have theCentral Statistics Agency (Badan Pusat Statistik/BPS) as areliable sources of statistical data provider in Indonesia. Second, thesubstance of the development agenda itself. A vast majority ofdeveloping countries is missing its MDGs which only consists of 8 goals,and now SDGs is coming up with more targets and indicators than MDGS.These are two biggest challenges in implementing SDGs in developingworld.
What is your expectation regarding the implementation of SDGs in Indonesia?
Based on my experiences in the government from 2009 to 2014 (as aMinister of Development Planning / Head of BAPPENAS), it is important tohighlight that the government needs to collaborate with variousstakeholders, including academia, to achieve its MDGs targets, and nowSDGs. Therefore, I would expect the government to invite theuniversities to play an active role in the implementation of SDGs inIndonesia. We will not stand idly waiting for the call, in the next fewmonths, together with Dr. Arief Anshory Yusuf (Faculty of Economics andBusiness), Dr. Suzy Anna (Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences) andAde Kadarisman, M.Sc, MT (Faculty of Communication), and with a support fromUniversitas Padjadjaran (UNPAD), we will launch the SDGs Center. Ourhope is that the SDGs Center can contribute actively in theimplementation of SDGs in Indonesia through various activities,including; academic studies, trainings, regular seminars and workshopsby inviting experts from various disciplines on sustainable development.
Photo credit: MCA-Indonesia.