Fifth South Asia Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals

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UNESCAP & Sustainable Development Council of Sri Lanka

The Fifth South Asia Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals(SAFS 2021) was held on 15-16th November 2021. The theme of the event was Building back better from COVID-19 while accelerating the implementation of the SDGs in South and South-West Asia.

About the event: The South Asia Forum on the SDGs (SAFS) was conceived as the subregional preparatory meeting for the Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD)1 to be held in March 2022, which in turn contributes towards the annual High-Level Policy Forum (HLPF). They have been organized by the South and South-West Asia office of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in collaboration with South Asian member states, stakeholders, and partners since 2017. The Forums facilitate dialogue and deliberations between Government officials, civil society, think tanks, experts, and other stakeholders on the themes of the annual APFSD and the HLPF, providing a unique opportunity to share information on subregional implementation efforts, highlight subregional priorities and share good practices. The outcomes and recommendations from the Forum feed into regional and global processes, in particular the annual APFSD and HLPF.

Read the program agenda here.

Anita Gurumurthy was nominated as a civil society representative to this official ESCAP forum on behalf of South Asian civil society.

She spoke at the 6th session- Leveraging partnerships and means of implementation for the SDGs: Finance, technology, capacity-building, and trade (SDG 17) on the 16th of November, 2021. This session focused on the means of implementation identified under SDG 17  – which include finance, technology, trade, and capacity building. It will discuss means and mechanisms for designing recovery strategies based on sustainable financing policies;  leveraging public and private sources for financing  COVID-19  recovery packages and achieving the SDGs; emerging capacity-building needs and advancements in digital technology and technology gaps;  and opportunities for increasing intra-regional trade through trade digitalization, harmonization, and trade facilitation.

Anita Gurumurthy carried inputs from a wider set of contributions from the South Asia Peoples Forum on the SDGs with a focus on SDG 17- Strengthening the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

She spoke on the crucial place of data for development in SDG 17, highlighting how the absence of global public financing measures and the democratic deficit in global data governance has seen the legitimization of a “digital public good” approach in global cooperation that has little to do with public interest, giving Northern companies and countries a powerful channel to cement their economic advantage. Her input shared concerns of overt surveillance, marketization of people & digital exclusion, and disenfranchisement with the advent of Covid-19.

She, therefore, called for the addressing of key-policy imperatives-like putting people at the heart of data systems, separating data issues from trade issues, and taking meaningful action to push data science for global justice.

Read her complete statement here and watch a recording of the event here.