Civil Society Commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This is the CSO statement that was delivered to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Economic Planning, Dato’ Seri Wahid Omar at the SDGs Symposium on 23 February 2016. 

Following the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the global development agenda at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, more than 20 civil society organisations (CSOs) in Malaysia met on three occasions since October 2015 to reflect on the relevance of SDGs to the country.

We recognise that under the principle of leaving no one behind, the SDGs integrate human rights and development in a balanced, inclusive and ecologically sustainable way.

We note that the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020) and the SDGs share some common policy and program focus. With that, the 17 goals, 169 targets and the many indicators identified will guide a clear direction for both policy and delivery in Malaysia’s development program.

We recognise the gaps and shortcomings in the Government’s development planning, priorities and implementation. However, many of these gaps could be addressed through the SDGs over the next 15 years between 2016 -2030.

We call upon the Government of Malaysia to ensure the effective implementation of goals, targets and indicators of the SDGs as pledged during the UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit, September 2015 in New York, USA.

We stand ready and willing to contribute towards the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. Indeed, we wish for comprehensive participation throughout the process in the spirit demonstrated in the outcome document that made a commitment for “all stakeholders acting in collaborative partnership to implement the plan”. We believe the SDGs is a critical and timely opportunity to initiate a goals based partnership that can drive a concerted effort towards achieving Malaysia’s own development goals as a shared responsibility.

The concerns and recommendations of the CSOs are as follows:-

First, we recommend that the Government engage CSOs at the planning, delivery, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of the SDGs. Due to the cross-cutting nature of the sustainable development agenda, formal channels and mechanisms should be established at the Federal, State and local levels.

Second, we call for a strong institutional framework to support the implementation of SDGs in Malaysia over the next 15 years. The SDGs must go beyond a reporting framework with clear coordinating and implementation responsibilities. We also highlight the need for an organizational and institutional mapping exercise so as to ensure effective collaborations and coordination across the sectors, disciplines and locations.

Third, we recommend the establishment of a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation mechanism to ensure inclusive development across the various dimensions so as to ensure that no one is left behind. This should include transparent and wide dissemination of information and data.

Fourth, we suggest a collaborative communications campaign to address the need to create wider awareness and understanding on the SDGs not only with the stakeholders, but also with the general public. The concept of sustainable development needs to be mainstreamed across government as well as the general public.

Signed and endorsed by:-

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development (CETDEM) Malaysia: Antony Tan

Coalition of Malaysian Environmental NGOs (MENGO): Yasmin Rasyid

COMMACT Malaysia: Prof Datuk Mohd Yusof Kasim

Dr Khoo Ying Hooi, Researcher

Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM): Datin Sushiela McCoy & Nithi Nesadurai

National Council of Women’s Organisation (NCWO): Omna Sreeni-Ong

PROHAM- Society for the Promotions of Human Rights: Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

Scope Group: Dr Shariha Khalid

Appendix 1 – Recommendations for SDGs implementation

  1. CSO Engagement:
  • Engagement of relevant CSOs throughout the policy cycle from agenda setting through to implementation;
  • Formation of working groups with representatives from government, private sector, civil society, academicians based and professional bodies based on all clusters, goals and targets;
  • Engagement with CSOs at the relevant levels including federal, state and local as the SDGs will require collaboration and competencies at all levels; and
  • Engagement of youth organisations as SDGs is a long term agenda.
  • Engagement of women’s organisations and other often overlooked groups to ensure maximum inclusivity
  1. Strong Institutional Framework for SDGs:
  • Undertake a mapping of organisations and competencies available relevant to the SDGs Goals and Targets at all levels;
  • Propose that an institutional framework for sustainable development be established to oversee implementation and nationalise the SDGs beyond global reporting;
  • Explore the possibility of the establishment of a National SDG Council with the EPU Minister chairing and including representatives from government, private sector, professional bodies and civil society as members. In addition, for the proposed Council to be effective, the Government must establish a strong and well-resourced secretariat which must be inter-agency, inter-disciplinary (including social, economic and environmental experts) and include staff from academia, think tanks and civil society;
  • Consider alternative institutional approaches such as the suggestion that EPU align its overall function to sustainable development, as economic planning is only one aspect of the planning focus. Another suggestion is to appoint a Sustainable Development Commissioner; and
  • Explore financing mechanisms (including social financing) such as a special SDG Fund to finance the implementation of the SDG goals and targets.
  1. Comprehensive monitoring and evaluation mechanism:
  • Ensure inclusive development across the various dimensions such as gender, ethnicity and sub ethnicity, location, class (T20, M40 & B40) is taking place. This is in line with the requirement for disaggregated data which requires data collection and publishing to monitor the progress across many dimensions;
  • To ensure that ‘no one is left behind’, the SDGs must be inclusive and account for marginalised communities including indigenous peoples with the need to undertake assessments ‘on the ground’;
  • The monitoring and evaluation must include all goals and targets including social, economic and environmental dimensions of the SDGs; and
  • Improve access to information through providing public access to data and information on SDGs monitoring and evaluation.
  1. Raising awareness and understanding:
  • A commitment to popularise SDGs by creating greater awareness among all the stakeholders with government, private sector, civil society and grassroots communities; and
  • Improve coherence and understanding across the fivefold SDG framework of people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership including the commitment towards sustainable development namely economic, social and environmental including human rights in a balanced way.

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