Fiji has undertaken measures and initiatives to progress each of the six Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are the focus of this year’s review by the Untied Nations, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has said.
Speaking on Sustainable Development at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, July 19, 2019, he said that his government was committed to leaving “communities, our country, and the world, better than what we inherited.”
We are resolutely committed to equality and inclusivity for all of our citizens, creating a golden era of opportunity for young Fijian girls and boys to take advantage,” he said.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that in 2013, Fiji discarded a long history of inequality, preferentialism and exclusion.
“We have put a special focus on bringing in those previously marginalised members of the society, particularly our women, our young people, and those living with disabilities, ensuring that the Fijian future would be one not of oppression and missed opportunities, but one of empowerment and inclusion,” he said,
Striking a delicate balance between sustainable development and economic growth, individual empowerment, social inclusivity and environmental conservation has long been a challenge for nations all over the world, he said.
Therefore, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an important framework for nations to strive for, to challenge themselves, and to never forget that we are fighting not for our political lives, but for the lives of the citizens we serve, the lives of our children and grandchildren and the lives of those generations that come long after we have gone, he said.
Progress in Fiji
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that Fiji has achieved almost 100% literacy rate, provided free primary and secondary education for the first time in its history with more females in secondary schools and universities than ever before, led the world to combat climate change as COP23 President, and built an infrastructure network that has brought even Fijians living in the most rural and remote maritime regions into the fold of development.
“We have cultivated a culture of upward mobility with grant schemes for budding entrepreneurs, including a Young Entrepreneurship Scheme that is turning the energy and ideas of our young people into flourishing businesses.
A Case Study
“We have grown the Fijian economy for an unprecedented ten straight years, and strengthened our independent institutions, reduced unemployment to record lows and streamlined business processes, embarked on a national digitalisation programme, and perhaps most importantly, found innovative, blended financing solutions to fund all of this progress in a sustainable and responsible way,” he said.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that over the past ten years, Fiji has proved to be a case study in striking that balance of economic growth and sustainability.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished to make Fiji a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous nation than ever before, but we still have a long way to go, and to get there, we cannot go at it alone,” he said.
He said that local, regional and international partnerships are helping elevate the Fijian economy and the society to the next level.
Champion of Climate Change
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said that Fiji is best known within the United Nations for its passionate activism to combat climate change.
“Our global leadership on this issue is driven by the fact that, as UN Secretary General António Guterres aptly put it when he visited Fiji and the Pacific for the first time in May, ‘Climate change is the battle of our lives, and it’s a battle that we are currently losing.’ As a small island nation that has been ravaged by the effects of strengthening storms and rising seas, each and every one of our SDGs, all of our progress, at every level is held hostage to the climate crisis that we face today. If we are to meet the goals outlined by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, every decision we make must be climate-minded,” he said.
Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum speaking at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, July 19, 2019 (Picture Supplied)