ASLI-CCPS together with the CSO-SDG Alliance hosted a discussion on the National SDG Roadmap- CSO Reflections entitled ‘Leaving no one behind’ on March 14, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur
We had a lively discussion yesterday and inputs from Civil Society Organisation (CSO) experts on the panel was very refreshing. The thoughts centred on themes such as environment & sustainability by Lavanya Rama Iyer (WWF); human rights and the Universal periodical review by Rizal Rozhan (EMPOWER); poverty & inequality by Dr Lin Mui Kiang (PROHAM); gender mainstreaming by Sunitha Bisan (NCWO) and access to justice by Andrew Khoo (Bar Council). From the presentations and feedback from the participants we can recognise ten key pointers as inputs into the preparation of the National SDG Roadmap.
First, it is recognised that Malaysia has seriously taken the SDGs goals for public policy planning. We noted that we can recognise the synergies between the SDGs and the Eleventh Malaysia Plan. This is especially so in the chapters addressing the educational, heath & human wellbeing, Bottom 40%, the multidimensional poverty indicators and in the green growth for sustainability. It was noted that this was a very good start but the challenge is in the implementation.
Second it was also acknowledged that the Economic Planning Unit has created the spaces for CSO participation at the national discussions in 2016 and also in the National SDG Steering Committee, thematic cluster groups and also the in the specific taskforces. CSOs appreciate the spaces and hope for ongoing participation in planning, deliver, monitoring and implementation recognising that this is a fifteen year agenda incorporating three Malaysia plans (Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth).
Third, it was recognised that much of the focus in national policy discussions have been on the 17 SDG goals along with the 169 targets and 230 indicators. While this is necessary and important it is necessary to draw on the UN Transformational document – Agenda 2030 which has the substantive background, ethos and ideology undergirding the goals, targets and indicators. Without the framing documents and themes the exercise will just become a technical process losing the substance and depth. It will miss the focus on paradigm of sustainability development.
Fourth, some thematic and cross cutting concerns were highlights. It was noted that the National SDG Roadmap discussions lacked the discussion on the philology of sustainability and development such as the balance between people, profits and planet in a sustainable way. It is not enough just to use these terms as slogans but it must be ingrained as the conflicts and contestation comes in the implementation and often economic and business value and considerations are placed on higher priority than people and the environment.
Fifth, of utmost importance is to strengthen our understanding and commitment in three area namely towards a sustainability agenda and framework, then on gender mainstreaming or gender lenses not just SDG 5 but the whole agenda for change, as well as human rights as a cross cutting theme of not just economic, social, cultural rights but also civil and political rights namely that people have right to voice their concerns and participation in holding the State actors accountable. Access to information becomes a central right for participation and holding the State actors accountable.
Sixth, we also noted that there were some mismatches between the targets and indicators set at the global level. There is a need to have national indicator setting forums to formulate what are specific indicators which will capture the aspirations of Malaysians at the national context. In this context alternative indicators could be developed such as indicators for natural capital and its value, well-being or quality of life index and multidimensional poverty index for B40 and urban poor which capture their aspirations for social mobility and well-being.
Seventh, it was noted that local government including the district office at the grassroots play should play a major role in SDG implementation. There must be more work done in creating greater awareness and enhancing their ‘buy-in’ in this process especially from agency officers at the district level as well as the local authorities. They must adopt a sustainability agenda for local governance. The Local agenda 21 was mentioned as a good example but its full potential was not tapped at the local governance level.
Eight, it was also expressed that there should be a review undertaken on the specific issues and recommendations raised in the UPR process on human rights compliance alongside the SDG goals and targets. The common areas and concerns should be tabulated and discussed. This will enable the National SDG Roadmap to also take note of the UPR obligations.
Ninth that the role of CSO and nature of engagement need to be more clearly defined. CSOs do not want ad hoc participation. They want to be equal partners with the public sector at planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. They like to ensure that there are adequate structures and resources that can enable effective participation. It was strongly expressed that public funds should be made available to CSOs in implementing the SDGs especially in undertaking awareness programs, coordination, capacity building and enhancing the richness, quality and diversity of CSO engagement in this process.
Finally it was also noted that CSOs like how we engage with the public sector should strengthen alliances with private sector as there are many good CSR initiatives by businesses. It is hoped that more public sector companies especially the public listed ones will also adopt the sustainability ethos and framework for the total operations in additions to undertaking CSR projects. The call is to move beyond CSR to frame it in SDG terms.
Jointly issued by Tan Sri Michael Yeoh (ASLI-CPPS) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (CSO-SDG Alliance). March 15, 2017