Published on: 17 March 2021

Speech of MEFA Olta Xhaçka at the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development

Good morning from Tirana.
 I am pleased to address the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development today.
 This year the Forum takes place in a very different reality from what we had last year.
 The pandemic has presented our societies and our economies with a crisis that is unprecedented in living memory.
 And yet, despite the obvious challenges and difficulties, I believe that a crisis can also be a moment of opportunity for change.
 I believe we must exploit this opportunity in order to push an agenda for a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable world.
 That makes me optimistic. and What makes me optimistic that we can succeed is the fact that we already have a blueprint for the change we need: the universal human rights framework, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
 I am proud that my country, Albania, has adopted this approach and has already taken important steps in this direction. We have done this, despite the fact that Albania was hit by twin crises: a tragic earthquake in November 2019, followed by the COVID 19 pandemic just a few months later.
 Although the impact was severe, and although managing these twin crises stretched our resources very thin, we decided to use this difficult moment to make some difficult, but necessary choices that focused not just on the short term handling of the problems we faced, but also on the long term adoption of a sustainable development model.
 In this context, the adoption of the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals have provided us with the political framework needed in order for us to make the right choices: to overcome crises and to create a sustainable world at the same time.
 The Government of Albania in 2015 embarked on Agenda 2030 and since than we have placed it at the center of our country long-term development prospects. The SDGs make an integral part of our National Strategy for Development and Integration for the year 2030.
 Since adopting Agenda 2030, the Government of Albania has undertaken several crucial initiatives towards implementing the SDGs, such as: 
 ·         The establishment of the multi-stakeholder, high level Inter-Ministerial Committee on the SDGs;
 ·         The approval by Parliament of the resolution committing to the promotion, implementation, and monitoring of Agenda 2030 and the SDGs;
 ·         The signing by 25 Albanian universities of a Declaration of Commitment to play an active role in advancing the 2030 Agenda;
 ·         A Declaration of Commitment by the National Council for Civil Society;
 ·         The preparation of the Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the SDGs;
 ·         And the publication by the National Institute of Statistics of the “First publication of statistically important indicators for Albania”, covering 83 indicators.
 Since 2018, the Albanian Government has also made a commitment to SDG Acceleration Fund, with the funds allocated by the Government of Albania so far to support human rights resilience.
 I am happy to say that we are working closely with the UN as well as other actors in this process which is ultimately beneficial to our EU integration too.
 Alongside efforts to foster a better investment climate, we have paid special attention to the principle of “leaving no one behind”. One of central policies in this aspect remains empowerment of the women, an area in which we have already marked significant progress, while ensuring women’s full and effective participation in leadership at all levels of decision making in political, economic and public life of the country.
 We have identified three broad policies and programming platforms for accelerating progress towards achieving the SDGs: (I) governance reform, human rights and the rule of law; (II) inclusive green economy; and (III) investments in social and human capital.
 In this context, further efforts are planned in order to identify policy gaps and accelerate action in priority areas, both at the national and local level. 
 The simple truth about SDGs is that they can only be achieved through an all-inclusive process, involving all actors of society. This is indeed one of the areas in which we are focusing our attention.
 And I am optimistic that despite the complexity of the challenge, thanks to the support given to us by the UN family, the UN Office in Albania and other agencies, we will ultimately manage to be successful in this crucial effort, thus bringing about the change that is so sorely needed. 
 Thank YOU!

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