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General meeting of the sustainable development partner group

21 November 2019

On November 20, a general meeting of the sustainable development partner group took place in Minsk. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the members of the group about the format of its work and activities carried out by the coordinators of the partner group, as well as to discuss the contribution of the group members to the solution of issues contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Alexander Skrabovsky, the coordinator of the sustainable development partner group on interaction with business, spoke at the opening of the general meeting. He drew attention to the importance of intrasector interaction, which will help to promote the SDGs. After all, a partner group is not a lobbying tool for individual organizations. It is a tool for joint successful resolution of issues that have not yet been resolved.

Irina Alkhovka, the coordinator of the partner group on social issues, presented the format of the group's work and spoke about the interaction with all elements of the SDG management architecture (Council on Sustainable Development, parliamentary group, regional groups of sustainable development, etc.). She noted that within the sectoral groups it is important not to forget about the intersections between sectors in order to get systemic changes.

The participants of the general meeting analyzed examples of conflicts of interest of business, civil society and the state. They noted that it is important to communicate the position in a consolidated manner rather than from one person; to take into account and integrate the public opinion in the decision-making process; to transfer specific problems to the systemic level of their solution; to extend each sector to all other, rather than to consider them as being on the periphery.

Working in small groups, the participants of the general meeting discussed topical problems and critical issues related to the promotion of the sustainable development goals in Belarus, possible channels of influence on them and their contribution to this influence. The results of the small group work were presented by the coordinators of the partner group.

Irina Alkhovka, the coordinator of the partner group of sustainable development on social issues, drew attention to the importance of decision-making while taking into account the views of all stakeholders, interagency cooperation of government agencies in the development of government programs and regulations, the emergence of mechanisms to take into account the results of the work of the civil sector, improving statistics. It is necessary to understand through which mechanisms one can assess how the process of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals affects people. It is important to have as disaggregated data as possible and to see the intersections of the target audience and different sectors. She focused on the demographic situation and the ageing of the population, which will affect both business and the economy. How do elderly people make decisions, interact in society and how can we influence them? This is a new cross-cutting issue that should appear in all programmes.

Alexander Chubrik, coordinator of the sustainable development partner group on economic issues, focused on the fundamental problem – the lack of definition of the concepts of vulnerable groups and discrimination in the legislation. The second fundamental problem is involvement. Is the population ready to get involved in public activities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals? The solution could be local self-governance, where such a tool as the civil budget could be introduced. When citizens feel responsible, engagement grows.

Alexander Skrabovskiy, coordinator of the sustainable development partner group on interaction with business, focused on the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals for each project and the possibility of joint activities for activists and officials, where they could jointly develop a common terminology and a common understanding of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Evgeny Lobanov, coordinator of the sustainable development partners group on environmental issues, noted the importance of having a variety of expertise when planning large projects. As examples, he cited the E40 waterway construction project, where environmentalists do not see the economic effect, and the plant construction project in Brest, where the investor did not see the environmental dimension. This is a systemic challenge: there is a lack of expertise in different sectors to assess environmental, social and other aspects. This may be the role of the partner group in strengthening the discussion that such expertise is needed and helping to provide such expertise.

Sofia Savelova and Anatoly Muravyov, coordinators of the sustainable development partner group on education, focused on the approach to inclusiveness in society as a whole. Affected groups should be involved in the decision-making process at all levels. Indicators, however, should be developmental rather than performance-based.

Dmitry Karpievich, coordinator of the partner group for sustainable development in the regions, focused on the importance of transparency in all decision-making processes and inclusion in the process of sustainable development.

More information about the working format of the partner group for sustainable development and the form for joining it can be found here.

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