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Sustainable Development Goals in Mongolia: Consultative meeting

Opening Remarks by Beate Trankmann,

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Mongolia

Excellencies, Prime Minister Khurelsukh, Ministers and Members of the Cabinet of Mongolia,

Honorable Members of Parliament, 

Distinguished Ambassadors and Heads of International Agencies:  

I am delighted to be a part of this important event. 

Today’s high-level meeting on Mongolia’s progress with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is a powerful re-affirmation of Mongolia’s commitment to them – namely, ending poverty, reducing inequality and protecting the planet.

Mongolia has made good initial progress towards the SDGs. It was an early adopter by creating its own Sustainable Development Vision for 2030 that brings the goals into national context. It has also succeeded in boosting economic recovery, with growth rebounding and fiscal deficits narrowing. This helps create the enabling environment needed to support the SDGs in future. 

But, after years of recession, progress in other areas remains fragile. In particular, rising poverty – jumping by 40 percent between 2014 & 16 – along with widening inequalities, unemployment and environmental concerns, such as climate change and pollution, could undermine Mongolia’s ability to achieve the SDGs. 

As such, it is clear that investments into the economy must be met by investments into society and the environment, to protect development gains and ensure Mongolia’s progress leaves no one behind, while sustaining future generations.  These are also core principles of the SDGs.

In light of this, the purpose of the joint review by the United Nations and Asian Development Bank is to advise the Government on opportunities to ramp-up progress on the social and environmental aspects of the SDGs, while sticking to Mongolia’s tight budget framework. 

Our review found that new approaches are needed if Mongolia is to achieve the SDGs and SDV. The top three priorities are:  

·        Firstly, coherent policy-making and strong institutional coordination across sectors and administrative layers anchored at the highest level of decision making;

·        Secondly, making sure annual budgets support the SDGs and SDV priorities; 

·        And thirdly, setting up monitoring and evaluation systems to assess and report on progress.

The budget is the most important expression of the government’s policy priorities – yet the SDGs are not as yet fully translated into short and medium term financial plans. Mongolia’s main challenge is not in setting goals and programmes, but in coordinating, funding and monitoring them.   

The UN stands ready to support Mongolia’s commitments to making the SDV and the SDGs a reality. Already, we are focusing on three main areas, namely: 

·        1) Developing the tools for plans and budgets that support the SDGs; 

·        2) Building strong, stable institutional systems and the evidence base for coordinated SDG-led policies and; 

·        3) Establishing enhanced monitoring and evaluation systems, including SDG dashboards. 

Together with the ADB, we are also now testing an exciting new pilot for next year’s budget with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Health, to develop SDG criteria that will guide funding in the health sector. 

I would like to thank Prime Minister HE Khurelsukh for his initiative in getting us all together today and providing us with an opportunity to engage in these important discussions. I would also like to thank ADB and Yolanda Fernandez Lommen for the partnership with the UN.

(Another iteration of this partnership is the Development Finance Assessment in your handouts that explores public and private financing opportunities to fund the SDGs and which contains many of the same recommendations as the Mainstreaming & Acceleration Review.)    

The SDGs are the most ambitious goals humanity has ever set. But if we meet them, imagine the future our children and grandchildren will see: a prosperous, just society, with green pastures under a blue sky that really is eternal and clear, even in winter. 

Our dreams for tomorrow depend on our efforts today, and every step we take in between. We must put clear and cohesive plans, supportive budgets and accurate monitoring for the SDGs into action now, to achieve inclusive, sustainable development by 2030. 

Or to put it in the words of Chinggis Khan: “there is no good in anything until it is finished!” 

Thank you very much. And, I look forward to a fruitful exchange, and to continuing the excellent partnership we have.

 

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