Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Federal Minister for Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, Professor Ahsan Iqbal speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference

ISLAMABAD, Dec 5 (APP): Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal Monday called upon the regional countries to make joint efforts in achieving common goals of poverty alleviation, literacy, sustainable socio-economic development, and mitigation of climate disaster impacts.

He was speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and jointly held alongside UNESCAP’s 6th South and Southwest Asia High-level Political Forum and Policy Dialogue on SDGs, said a press release issued here.

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference.

He said the member countries of South and West Asia region are making concerted efforts to achieve the agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) i.e. climate change, conflicts, food security, poverty and inequality, which are the major challenges in the way of human development gains.

The Minister urged the IFIs to establish a special fund to provide interest-free loans with a grace period of up to 30 years for the developing countries to cope with climate disasters.

Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, the Chairperson of SDPI Board of Governors, said this year’s annual conference is unique in a sense that SDPI, the government, and UNESCAP joined hands to co-host this event.

He hoped that the recommendations developed at this conference would be useful for the government and other stakeholders, including its external partners to ensure peace and cooperation in the region.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI said the objective of the forum is to foster and in-depth and shared understanding among the member states and stakeholders on strategies and opportunities at state, and sub-regional level to accelerate the implementation of 2030 agenda.

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Mikiko Tanaka, Director and Head of UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, Thailand speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference

Mikiko Tanaka, Director and Head of UNESCAP Subregional Office for South and South-West Asia, Thailand said that regional countries are confronting with difficult times, therefore, they need to strengthen partnerships for regional development.

She affirmed that UNESCAP will continue to support member countries in achieving SDGs or 2030 agenda.
Knut Ostby, the UNDP Country Director, said Pakistan has made significant progress in certain goals such as poverty eradication, access to energy, under nourishment, food insecurity, housing and climate change.

“We don’t need building only concrete buildings, we need society to be resilient that is linked to SDGs.”

He said that the current floods left harshest impact on the most vulnerable areas of Pakistan, further intensifying inequalities.

He suggested that recovery from the floods needs to be inclusive and climate-resilient.

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Fathimath Niuma, the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure, Maldives speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference

Fathimath Niuma, the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure, Maldives said that regional and sub-regional collaboration is vital to cope with the COVID pandemic and the SDGs agenda.

She said that the current challenges have made us realize that global and national priorities should be realigned to be more resilient and sustainable.

Shehan Semasinghe, the Minister of State for Finance, Sri Lanka, said Sri Lanka focuses on achieving high-level productivity through a diversified economy. He reiterated that “the government is committed to ensuring that the progress on SDGs would not reverse due to challenges such as COVID-19”.

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Shehan Semasinghe, the Minister of State for Finance, Sri Lanka speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference.

Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, Secretary-General, SAARC, said that IMF has predicted a loss of $4 trillion in global output till 2026.

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Esala Ruwan Weerakoon, Secretary-General, SAARC, speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference.

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, the UN Under-Secretary-General, and UNCESCAP Executive Secretary, said that South Asian countries are at the highest risk of climate-induced events, and we need to incentivize investments in clean energy.

Regional countries should work together to achieve common goals: Ahsan Iqbal
Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Secretary for the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives speaking at the inaugural plenary of 25th Sustainable Development Conference

Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Secretary for the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, said that recent flooding in Pakistan has incurred a loss of over US$30 billion while the country needs at least $1 billion for the rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the flood-hit areas.