Wednesday, 14 December, 2016

Actions in support of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) should build on a strong human rights foundation. This was one of the key highlights of the People`s Advocate Annual Conference. The Conference, dedicated to the alignment of the Sustainable Development Goals with Human rights brought together representatives from the Government of Albania, Parliament, Ambassadors, Heads of UN agencies, civil society, academia and others.The role of the Human Rights Institutions in the implementation of the SDGs was discussed during the conference`s three panels: (i) SDG 1, 8- Leave no one behind - End poverty in all its forms and promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth; (ii) SDG 3,4,5 - Invest in people and greater social cohesion. What opportunities do SDGs bring for HRs and vice-versa; and (iii) SDG 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 - HR aspects of Environment and Climate Change.People`s Advocate present at the event, underlined:” As one of the actors involved in the protection and implementation of human rights, which constitute the basis for the Sustainable Development Goals, the People`s Advocate has and should play a specific role in the process of implementing and monitoring the SDG Agenda. Our vision for the future, in line with that of all stakeholders involved in the realization of this ambition is that "no one is left behind" and that human dignity is guaranteed and human rights and honored and guaranteed to all individuals at all times and places”.The UN Resident Coordinator in Albania Mr. Brian Williams highlighted:” To make the SDGs meaningful, we need to connect them to Albania`s development aspirations. First, we must recognize the complete alignment between the EU integration process and the SDG framework. Agenda2030 provides a means for Governments and their citizens to imagine their society as they would like to see it – and at some distance in the future. A country with full and decent employment, for example. With access to high quality health services. With an environment that is protected, and able to be enjoyed and celebrated by its citizens. And so on. Joining the EU – a union which is similarly built on a value set of human rights – offers a critical accelerator to achieve these aspirations. The SDGs help put a human face on the EU integration process. They offer a way to help think about – and measure through time – the human and environmental impacts of a development path focused on rapid accession to the European Union. Next, we need to look at how real plans and programmes will expand people`s access to services and opportunities, as reflected by SDG achievements. Albania`s National Strategy for Development and Integration 2015-2020 – the master plan for development -- is already mapped to the Sustainable Development Goals. The Prime Minister`s office, in collaboration with the UN, is drafting a baseline report, collecting available statistics against the agreed global indicators. For our part, the UN`s five-year plan with the Government, the Programme of Cooperation for Sustainable Development 2017-2021 and just signed a few weeks ago, is also aligned to the SDGs.Participants at the Conference highlighted the significance of developing and implementing policies and systems that support production activities and job creation for all, promote social inclusion of vulnerable groups in all areas of life and advance gender equality towards greater social cohesion. A stronger cooperation within and among HR institutions, Government of Albania, Parliament and other stakeholders was deemed critical in nationalizing the Agenda 2030.The conference concluded with the preparation of a joint Ombudsman - United Nations Albania declaration, recommending concrete steps forward for the implementation of Agenda 2030 in the country, supported through a greater collaboration amongst Government and stakeholders both at the national and local level as well as adequate mechanisms and capacities to track implementation progress.