East Jerusalem, 23 April 2019 – Policy makers, experts, academia, researchers, and administrators from different countries gathered today to discuss ways of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under conditions of crisis. UNDP’s Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People and Birzeit University organized the two-day conference in partnership with the Prime Minister’s Office in the State of Palestine, UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) and UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
Speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister, His Excellency Majdi Al Saleh, Minister of Local Government, highlighted that the embodiment of “Leaving No One Behind” within the Palestinian context requires enabling the Palestinian people to realize their rights and called on increased investments in youth as catalysts in achieving the SDGs. “The Palestinian government embraced the 2030 Agenda and is committed to working with local and international partners towards the achievement of the goals. The National Team for Sustainable Development led the integration of the goals within the National Policy Agenda and supported the presentation of the first Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals for the State of Palestine,” he added.
The conference offers a platform to discuss, evaluate and analyse the various policies and challenges related to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda within the context of conflict and occupation, and attempts to provide policy makers with an opportunity to elaborate on the environment, conditions and actions needed to accelerate the achievement of the goals.
Dr Abdullatif AbuHijleh, President of Birzeit University, explained that “despite the challenges, Palestinian universities have a critical role to play in building the State’s capacities, and promoting development efforts, including private-public partnerships - at the local and international levels - in order to find a viable solution where the Palestinian people can have the life they deserve with dignity and freedom”.
The conference tackles both theoretical and practical issues in the field of public administration, public policies and sustainable development, particularly in relation to the implementation of the SDGs. The sessions also explore case studies and models that have existed under conditions of wars, crises and occupation.
“With the 2030 Agenda, and the advent of “leave no one behind” as the rallying-cry for all 17 SDGs, there is an unprecedented opportunity to energise the priorities of peace and prosperity. People’s drive for freedom, dignity and better services should be fulfilled as a basic human right, not as a charity to those in need,” said UNDP’s Deputy Special Representative, Geoffrey Prewitt. “I hope I can look back 11 years from now and think this event was a building block towards an independent State of Palestine that has achieved the SDGs,” he added.
The themes that will be explored during the conference include: Sustainable development in Palestine: reality and challenges; Development in marginalized areas due to occupation; Sustainable economic development under conditions of crises; Good governance for sustainable development; Sustainable management of natural Resources and environment in crisis conditions; collaboration and cooperation for sustainable development; Sustainable social development; and sustainable development at the local level.
It is worth noting that more than 1.8 billion people live in areas affected by conflict, violence and fragility today, and that number is projected to grow to 2.3 billion by 2030, unless current trends are reversed . Showing the immense financial cost of conflict around the world, experts estimate that the “cost” of conflict reached USD 14.7 trillion in 2017 or 12.4% of global GDP.
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