Climate change, digital advancement among major challenges in achieving SDGs – Dr Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 6 — Digital technology will play a critical role in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), although innovation will most likely affect progress in both positive and negative ways.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the deployment of new technologies is seen essential in achieving the SDGs, considering the need for accelerated progress to fulfil the goals by 2030.

“However, as new technologies are usually unavailable to marginalised populations, it will be a key challenge to ensure that no one is left behind, as new innovations often exacerbate existing divides in society between those who can benefit, and those who are left behind, ” he said while opening the Malaysia Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit 2019 here today.

Also present United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malaysia Stefan Priesner.

The summit, which carries the theme Accelerating Progress on the SDGs: Whole of Nation Approach, will contribute ideas and strategies to move the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development forward and energise partnerships through the whole of the nation approach in attaining the SDGs.

In addition, he said, with the current speed of innovation, a mindful approach is needed as many opportunities and risks were still unknown but could rapidly crystallise, without regulators being able to respond in a timely manner.

On climate change, Dr Mahathir pointed out the concern relating to four major areas, namely the degradation of forest, marine and freshwater resources; increases in certain hydro-meteorological and geomorphological events; the decline in food production capacities and other environmentally driven economic system.

He also noted of the ethical-justice issues such as environmentally induced displacements and migration, the deprivation and sustenance of certain livelihood activities, and the safety and well-being of the more marginalised sectors of society.

Thus, in moving forward with the SDGs, the social complexity of resolving sustainable development problems will require coordinated action by a range of stakeholders that include government agencies at different levels of government, non-profit organisations, the private sector, academia, organised civil society and individuals.

As for Malaysia, in line with the Shared Prosperity Vision, he said the country would focus on governance reforms based on two core principles, namely integrity and good governance.

The prime minister also said a substantial amount of funding is required to achieve the ambitious global SDGs, which include ending poverty, improving global health, ensuring universal education, and mitigating climate change by 2030.

“The expected financial burden is beyond the capacity of the government, and cannot be met by official development assistance. The role of the private sector, as well as updated financial markets, will be essential,” he said.

Thus, he said, the 2030 Agenda is Malaysia’s collective key to unlocking hope and opportunities in facing those challenges and urged everyone to work together with the government in realising the agenda.

Meanwhile, earlier, Priesner in his welcoming address said Malaysia has done a lot of right things in its development path, including a track record of reducing poverty and fostering improved access to public services.

“Malaysia has also been an early starter with regards to the Agenda 2030, building the SDGs into planning, establishing policies and incorporating them into budgetary provisions,” he said.

— BERNAMA

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