Following the welcome address by G.Zandanshatar, Chairman of
the State Great Hural of Mongolia, the IPU President Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Baron
delivered the IPU Statement on the Second Regional Seminar on the SDGs for the
Parliaments of Asia-Pacific.
Ulaanbaatar, 27 May 2019
The honorable Chairman of the State Great Hural
Your Excellency the Prime Minister of Mongolia,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to address you at the beginning of this important regional seminar. I am very pleased to be here in Mongolia with you today and to welcome you all to this meeting on behalf of the IPU.
Let me start by thanking the Parliament of Mongolia, in particular its Speaker, Mr. Gombojav Zandanshatar, for the wonderful work done in organizing this meeting and for receiving us with such warm hospitality. Mongolia has been a member of IPU since 1962, close to 60 years. We are grateful for their contribution to our organization and look forward to our continued collaboration.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the IPU, allow me to give a brief overview of our unique organization. The IPU is the global organization of parliaments. It was founded in 1889 by two visionaries – the Frenchman Frederic Passy and Englishman William Randall Cremer. They both received the Nobel Peace Prize at the beginning of last century. They were convinced of the value of political dialogue and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. Their vision certainly seems as valid today as it was back then.
This year, the IPU celebrates its 130th anniversary. 130 years of working for peace, reconciliation, human rights and equality. Today we are more motivated than ever to continue to support the development of effective and inclusive parliaments that reflect and represent women, young people, ethnic minorities and other segments of society. Since 2015 we have worked with parliamentarians on the Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs, which is of course why we find ourselves here today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The IPU regional seminars provide an opportunity for the parliaments all over the world to work together to effectively engage with the SDGs. Your presence here sends a strong message about your commitment, and the commitment of your parliaments, to the SDGs. IPU is proud to facilitate exchanges of good practices and experiences among parliamentarians at all levels in order to inspire action and maximize the contribution of parliaments to the implementation of the goals.
At the previous seminar for the Asia Pacific region, held in Viet Nam in 2017, the IPU and UNDP launched the ‘Parliaments and the Sustainable Development Goals Self-Assessment Toolkit”. This toolkit enables parliaments to assess how they are engaging with the SDGS at the national level. The toolkit has been well received and since its launch it has been translated into 12 languages. We will have an opportunity to hear more about the results of this toolkit in the first session of the seminar.
In Viet Nam our discussions focused on climate change, and we agreed that parliaments must do all they can to mitigate its devastating effects. We recognized climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable groups in society, such as women and children. We acknowledged that our role as parliamentarians is to drive change at the national level. Our functions allow us to translate the SDGs into enforceable domestic law, hold governments accountable and align budgets with national sustainable development plans.
This seminar will build on the discussions from 2017 and will pay attention to climate change, health and equality in the context of the Asia Pacific region.
The Asia-Pacific region has experienced rapid economic growth in a relatively short amount of time. In fact, the region contributes to two thirds of global growth. According to a report published by the World Bank in 2018, over the past 2 decades, more than 40 per cent of the region’s population has been lifted out of poverty.
The region has also made noteworthy progress on reducing newborn deaths; improving nutrition; scaling up school enrolment; working to end child marriage; promoting sanitation and hygiene practices; and combating epidemics.
However many people, in particular women, remain left behind. If we are to achieve the inclusive, transformational change envisioned by the SDGs, we must invest in policies and programs that improve the health and quality of life of all and in particular of women, children and adolescents. Such an investment promises to transform communities and nations for generations.
Climate change also remains a serious threat to the Asia-Pacific region. According to statistics released by the Asian Development Bank in 2017, in the 10 year period between 2007 and 2016, the average annual damage caused by disasters in Asia and the pacific was $48.7 billion.
Disaster risk reduction is an important investment for this region. In 2017 the Asian Development Bank released data that showed in a 20 year period Asia and the Pacific experienced over 320 earthquakes that reached 4.0 or more on the Richter scale. These earthquakes affected over 103 million people, caused damages totaling over $136 billion and the deaths of over 445 thousand people.
These figures are alarming. We must employ our legislative, budgetary and oversight powers to ensure the prioritization of these issues at national and regional levels.
The Asia Pacific region is home to more than a half of the world’s population. As parliamentarians, we have a critical role to play to ensure that government actions are inclusive and transformative for those whom we represent. The SDGs cannot be achieved if certain groups in society are ignored. They are for everyone.
Over the next few days you will address a wide range of topics that will help you engage effectively with the SDGs. It is my hope that this seminar will provide you with an opportunity to exchange views, share experiences and identify common strategies to integrate the SDGs in the work of your parliaments, and scale up the resources and political commitment to regional cooperation.
I believe this seminar will produce valuable recommendations and conclusions that will be beneficial to your parliaments and the region as a whole. I look forward to open and constructive debates and wish you a very successful meeting.