President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri considered that our problem in the country is our political differences, but this does not mean that we cannot overcome them and develop the country.

Hariri stressed that sustainable development must be adopted in all ministries and state sectors to develop ourselves and the country.

Hariri's words came during his patronage this afternoon at the Grand Serail the launching of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said : I want to talk about the goals of the SDGs from a different angle. First, why do we want to achieve these goals? What are they? And why are we exerting all this effort and working on them? What is Lebanon's interest in implementing these goals? We are a small country, and you know all its problems and misfortunes. But what we have today applies to all the countries of the world.

What is required from us today as a government and as Lebanese is to develop ourselves and change some old laws to get the country out of this deteriorating economic situation.

The idea of the SDGs started in the United Nations. What applies to Lebanon applies to many countries in the world, even those with tremendous potential and with GDPs in trillions of dollars have their own problems in education, water and all the seventeen points of the GDPs.

What we did in this government and the previous one with Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani is that we looked at the SDGs process, formed committees and started work. Now he is preparing to have a joint paper and coordination between all departments.

Our problem in Lebanon is that every ministry works as if it were alone, and this is unacceptable, because all the ministries and all ministers and even I as Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker work to serve the citizen.

Therefore, a standard has been set at the United Nations on how to develop ourselves, and we have to apply this standard, not for the United Nations but to develop ourselves as Lebanese, because we retreated and today we have to redevelop ourselves.

He added: In this sense, any non-cooperating ministry is responsible for keeping Lebanon back. For me and for all of you, the SDGs are the main objective. The idea of sustainable development is not charity or philanthropy. All ministries must cooperate to achieve these goals. We used to say that Lebanon is a country of educated people and take pride in the Lebanese wherever they are and say that wherever the Lebanese goes, he succeeds, but not in Lebanon.Our problem in this country is political, our problem lies in our differences, but that does not mean that we cannot advance the country. The work we are doing today in the government and in the committees that I chair is to get the country out of this crisis. But in the medium and long terms, we are moving towards achieving the SDGs.

He concluded: I thank Mr. Lazzarini and all the ministers involved in this project, as well as the Parliament, which is heavily involved in this program. The most important thing is cooperation. I will follow with each ministry individually to ascertain the level of its cooperation in implementing these goals, because it is in the best interests of our children.So I thank everyone, all the present ministers, Mrs. Claudine Aoun, the present MPs and general directors. I salute you for working day and night. We want to regain confidence and the only way to do that is to let the world see that procedures are taken, work is being done, goals are implemented and we apply everything we talk about. We must confess when we have delays in achievements, and there must be transparency in the way we work. So thank you all and back to work.

Lazzarini

For his part, the Deputy UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Philippe Lazzarini delivered the following speech:

I am delighted to take part in the launch of the Lebanon SDG Vision 2030 under the guidance of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Ghassan Hasbani.

Agenda 2030 is the most ambitious anti-poverty and pro-planet agenda ever adopted by all United Nation Member States. It tackles the root causes of poverty, addresses challenges ranging from poverty and hunger eradication, gender equality, climate change to peace, justice and strong institutions to name a few.

Four years after its endorsement, it has become apparent that we are far from where we need to be. We are off track. Those were the words of the UN secretary General Antonio Guterres last week during the high-level political forum on sustainable development. He added: Deadly conflicts, the climate crisis, gender-based violence, and persistent inequalities are undermining efforts to achieve the goals. Indeed, the wealth around the world is held by people who could fit around a conference table. Uneven growth, rising debt levels, heightened global trade tensions are creating new obstacles to implementation. Youth unemployment remains at alarming levels. Global hunger is unfortunately on the rise. No country is on track to meeting the goal of gender equality without which none of the others will be met, and in fact, the gap in several is growing. One million species are in danger of extinction. And at the current pace, almost 500 million people could remain in extreme poverty by 2030. We must step up our efforts. And we must do it now.

And, Lebanon is no exception: 30% of the Lebanese live under the poverty line, only 37% of the population have access to safe drinking water, 70% of natural water sources in Lebanon are bacterially contaminated. 5% of Parliamentarians are women, one of the lowest in the world, and women's participation in economic life is only 26%. Lebanon was ranked the 138 least corrupt country out of 180 perceived corrupt countries in 2018. And, Beirut has seen the level of air pollution double the European Environment

Agency's yearly recommended average, to name few examples.

There is no doubt that there is an urgent need for action, for bold action, especially at a time of economic uncertainties and anxiety about the future.

In addressing the challenges in Lebanon related to equality, economic growth, governance and the environment, the national SDG Vision 2030 presents a unique opportunity to develop an ambitious but achievable shared aspiration and trajectory, for the next ten years and beyond.

The good news is that a lot of efforts have already been invested in it.

Whilst we have not seen one comprehensive Lebanon development plan for decades, we have over the last two years witnessed the emergence of key initiatives such as:

The Government vision for stabilization, growth and employment, which was presented at CEDRE. The McKinsey plan that focuses on the diversification of the productive sectors.

And, various sectoral strategies are currently being developed, including water, health and education, electricity, as well as number of national action plans or strategies. 26 such stepping stones were outlined in Lebanon's Voluntary National review last year.

So, let us make good use of these initiatives. The SDG Vision 2030 provides a unique opportunity to bring all these strategies and plans together under one integrated and prioritized vision.

Moving forward, the 2030 SDG Vision should clearly articulate the future Lebanon the Lebanese people would like to live in by 2030 and beyond. It must articulate a clear vision for the future of the country and stress how its rich resources can responsibly be handed over to future generations.

To do so, it must address all facets of sustainable development: whether economic, environmental, and social, as well as the governance and the partnerships required to achieve this. The SDG Vision 2030 must move beyond the unidimensional focus on economic growth, to ensure development gain achieved does not leave anyone behind, and importantly protect environmental resource.

We are living a time of challenges, but also a time of opportunities and a time to think of new solutions. Today it is time to act.

At the climate action summit last week, ambitions were radically elevated. 77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Companies committed to shift business operations towards biodiversity protection, regenerative farming, and reversing the damaging deforestation trends caused by food companies. And earlier this month an SDG-linked bond valued at USD 1.5 billion was issued for the first time signaling that the financial market is ready for sustainable investing.

To underline the urgency of taking action, I again refer to the UN Secretary General, who last week issued a global call for a Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030. We all must do more to address the challenges of today and tomorrow and make sure that no one is left behind.

This also applies to Lebanon where reforms and new ways of dealing with resource are urgently needed. There is no time to waste. In our meeting this week, you told me, Prime Minister, that action and delivering is the only way forward.

Lebanon has over the past years demonstrated its commitment to 2030 Agenda. Since endorsing it in 2015, the Government has taken several critical steps, including the establishment of the National Committee on SDGs. The country presented its first Voluntary National Review in June 2018 providing an overview on Lebanon's progress towards achieving the SDGs. A Parliamentary body on SDGs has been established to enable Parliament to play its legislative and oversight role with the 2030 Agenda at its core.

Moreover, the Global Compact Network in Lebanon is connecting businesses, leaders and experts, pushing for further action towards the 2030 Agenda.

We are meeting today to kick off the process, which will bring together all these initiatives together under the banner - Lebanon SDG Vision 2030.

The SDGs concern all of us and its implementation requires collective action.

While the Government of Lebanon is taking the lead, it cannot do it alone.

Partnerships among Government, Parliament, private sector, civil society and citizens are critical to achieve the desired progress.

Moving forward the SDG Vision 2030 will also rely on having data available to inform policy decisions. Data will also be critical to measure our progress and the positive impact the actions taken have on people.

The UN looks forward to work hand in hand with Lebanon in the development and implementation of the Lebanon SDG Vision 2030, in a close partnership with Deputy Prime Minister Hasbani as well as all line ministries as well as civil society and the private sector.

Finally, the SDG Vision 2030 will be the centerpiece guiding for the future partnership between Lebanon and the UN. It will not only set out the vision and priorities for the future of Lebanon, it will also be the platform for how Lebanon wants to use the services of its United Nations. In very practical terms, it will underpin the collective efforts of the UN in Lebanon in line with your agreed national priorities, under a Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, which will come to effect in 2022.

I am happy to be a part of the beginning of such an important process and I am looking forward to the launch next year of the Lebanon SDG Vision 2030.

Source: National News Agency