The Sixth South-East Asia Multi-Stakeholder Forum on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals on the theme “Accelerating the Recovery from COVID-19 while Advancing the Full Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was organized on November 7 – 8, 2022 at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok and online via MS Teams. The forum has the objective of providing opportunities for governments, development partners, civil society, academia, the private sector, and other stakeholders to share subregional perspectives, discuss collaborative measures to address subregional priorities, and exchange good practices to achieve SDG implementation. The outcomes and recommendations will later be fed into regional and global processes, including the annual Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development (APFSD) and the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to be held next year. 

Mekong Institute (MI) took part in “Session 1: SDG 6–Clean Water and Sanitation” where challenges, initiatives, and recommendations for ensuring access to water and the sufficiency of water supply in South-East Asia, specifically in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, were addressed. Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, Executive Director of MI, assumed the role of moderator. The rationale is that despite the general availability of water resources in South-East Asia, most countries experience water shortages due to improper water resource management, rapid urbanization, and natural causes such as flooding or drought.

In “Session 5: SDG 17 – South-East Asia perspectives and partnerships for delivering on the SDGs through the food, energy, and finance nexus”, MI continued to participate, providing input in a panel discussion on SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals. Mr. Suriyan provided a perspective on policy approaches and best practices, with a particular focus on the nexus of food, energy, and finance.

Lastly, during the “Forum Wrap-up and Summary”, Mr. Suriyan delivered his key points derived from the two-day discussion by saying, “During the Forum, we took note of both the progress but also the set-backs in selected SDG targets. There is consensus that to move forwards on the SDGs, synergies among SDG efforts must be sought, whether in national policies and strategies, post COVID-19 recovery measures and existing regional and sub-regional cooperation frameworks.”

To underscore the need to have all hands on deck, he stressed the strong leadership and commitments from SEA leaders, the private sector, civil society organizations and academic institutions in advancing the SDG realization. At the same time, facilitated platforms and enabling mechanisms are increasingly needed for actionable, progressive and constructive engagement and partnership.

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