SDSN centres join forces to explore what Sustainable Development Goals mean for the Southeast Asia/Australia region

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The Honourable Dato’ Dr James Dawos Mamit, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Malaysia, opening the workshop, with workshop Co-Chairs Prof Zakri Abdul Hamid and Sir Bob Watson.

Senior leaders from government, business, civil society and academia in the Southeast Asia/Australia region gathered in Kuala Lumpur on 7-8 November for a 2-day workshop to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their implications for the region. The regional workshop was hosted by the SDSN Malaysian Chapter and the SDSN Regional Centre for Australia/Pacific.

The workshop brought together over 80 participants from countries across the region, including Malaysia, Singapore, Viet Nam, Thailand, Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia and Australia to explore key sustainable development priorities for the region and how these could be captured in the SDGs.

It was led by internationally renowned sustainability leaders Professor Emeritus Dato’ Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, Malaysia and Chair, Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and Sir Robert Watson, Professor at Monash University and former Chair of the IPCC.

Additional partners included the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and the Office of the Science Adviser to the Prime Minister, Malaysia, and funding was provided by the Harold Mitchell Foundation and the Australian Government.

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Rosemarie Edillon (Philippines), Dr William Padolina (Philippines), Sir Bob Watson, Ho Long Phi (Viet Nam), and Academician Dato’ Ir (Dr) Yee Cheong Lee discussing key regional issues.

Topics for discussion included progress in Southeast Asia and Australia on sustainable development, regional priorities for poverty, health, education, food and agriculture, gender, water, and energy; and similarities and differences between countries in the region. It examined the global and national processes critical to the success of the SDGs, including implementation, communication, the role of business, and the role of science and technology.

There was a high level of enthusiasm from throughout the region to continue to work together on the SDG process. Another workshop is being planned by the SDSN Regional Centres for Southeast Asia and Australia/Pacific for next year.

Some of the key points made at the workshop include:

  • There needs to be greater engagement with business, youth and the community in setting the goals and targets.
  • There needs to be more focus on implementation and communication of the SDGs.
  • Financing will be critical. Engaging with business will be critical for this. But so also will be stability and certainty in government policy setting.
  • SDGs should give greater importance to integration of the three dimensions of economic prosperity, social inclusion and environmental sustainability. The interlinkages, including synergies and trade-offs, within and between the SDGs need to be addressed.

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    Workshop participants
  • Interdisciplinary Science, Technology and Innovation is critical to sustainable development.
  • Key challenges that will need to be addressed include Common But Differentiated Responsibilities, financing, debt relief, subsidies, technology transfer, intellectual property rights, trade reform and capacity building.

For further information, see the Co-Chairs’ Summary. The full program can be downloaded here.