Hariri at MultiStakeholder SDG Forum: Lebanon is firmly committed to 2030 Agenda

Forum", organized by Global Compact Network Lebanon (GCNL), the Lebanese national chapter of the UN Global Compact.

The forum was attended by Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Acting UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Dahler Kardel, GCNL President MP Dima Jamali, and a number of stakeholders from the public and private sector and civil society.

MP Dima Jamali, GCNL President, delivered the following speech:

"I entertain the privilege of welcoming you to our Multi-Stakeholder Forum which we as Global Compact Network Lebanon (GCNL) seize every year to celebrate our achievements and the achievements of our members in terms of showcasing concrete progress on the SDGs in Lebanon. Today I see crystal clear the importance of the UN 2030 agenda for a better Lebanon, and stand before you to jointly renew our pledges to continue to work and push the envelope in relation to the SDGs in Lebanon. We have a real opportunity to put Lebanon on the global radar screen in relation to progress on the SDGs, and I see the UN 2030 agenda today more realizable than ever.

The reason for my optimism is simple and clear. We have in our network today over 120 of the most resilient and versatile private sector organizations, a sector that has invariably served as the engine for growth and innovation in Lebanon. We also have over 60 of the most credible and dedicated non-business participants who have all embraced the SDGs and the UN 2030 agenda. Per capita, this level is engagement is very impressive. But is it is even more impressive because when I say embraced, I really mean wholeheartedly embraced, and I am simply impressed day after day by the level of energy and commitment exhibited by each one of you and our members at large. I take the opportunity here to specifically congratulate our CEOs for believing in GCNL and agreeing to serve as SDG National Goal Leaders.

I am also optimistic because we have managed through Global Compact Network Lebanon to offer a platform that was able to engage a range of partners from across the SDG ecosystem. This diversity and complementarity of players and efforts invariably adds value, and gives Global Compact Network Lebanon the special flavor and status it has recently enjoyed. Very important here is to also recognize the efforts of our visionary Prime Minister, through setting up a national commission on the SDGs and presenting the first National Voluntary Review Report this summer at the UN High Level Political Forum in July 2018. It is only by joining hands, and working together across sectors and partners that we can achieve a real multiplier effect through substantive and innovative partnerships for sustainable development that we need to increasingly leverage in support of the global goals and the UN 2030 agenda.

Today I just wish to thank each one of you for your presence and support and count on your continued engagement to make progress towards the SDGs in Lebanon. We count on you to continue to passionately engage through our network and to continue to work and dream of a better Lebanon".

Acting UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Pernille Kardel said:

"I am happy to join you here today and it is inspiring to see so many people from different background and walks of life who are here on a common agenda - a better future for all.

The sustainable development goals and the 2030 Agenda represent an ambitious promise to create a better future for everyone. The SDGs offer a concrete and consensus-based plan for action to ensure people prosper, on a peaceful and healthy planet, through the eradication of poverty and sustainable development at a global level.

When the 17 goals were adopted in 2015, they marked a paradigm shift in the way we do business. The Goals represent a new pact - a pact between governments, the private sector and the world's populations - based on inclusivity and partnerships. They are interconnected and require collaboration across sectors to achieve sustainable results.

Creating a space where people can join forces is key to the success of the SDGs - And this is also why we are gathered here at the Grand Serail.

I would like to commend this initiative taken by Dr. Dima Jamali and Lebanon's Global Compact Network - an essential partnership between the government and the private sector. It is a valuable opportunity for us all to unite under one framework for Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

Let me focus in on Lebanon for a moment.

We know Lebanon's strategic location, its highly skilled and multilingual labor force, and its strengths in technology and innovation offer opportunities for Lebanon to grow domestically and connect to markets of hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

The SDGs provide a framework to build on these advantages and unlock prosperity for all of Lebanon's citizens, including the most vulnerable Lebanese in the country. For Lebanon to flourish further, economic reforms and infrastructure development, led by a hopefully soon newly formed Government, are key. In this regard, critical reforms as agreed in Paris last April are essential.

However, the SDGs should not only be bound to governments, or to a selected few influencers, but also the private sector and civil society. We all have an interest in reducing inequalities and living in an environment where businesses can thrive, where individuals can prosper, and where government is accountable and resourceful. And we all have an active role to play.

For the SDGs to succeed they need to be owned by all: by grassroots organizations, by corporate boardrooms, at the government level, by the UN and by the people and within our own homes. In this light, it is great to see so many people in the room today.

It is my hope that we can build on this momentum and rally partners to move towards the 2030 Agenda. We have 12 years left, so let's make it happen".

Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri delivered the following speech:

"I am pleased to participate in the Global Compact Network Lebanon Forum, and to see so many successful businessmen and businesswomen present with us here today.

As I have already emphasized on several occasions, Lebanon is firmly committed to Agenda 2030 and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, through solid partnership with all key stakeholders, including our strong and talented private sector.

I am a firm believer that building effective partnerships with the private sector, ensures sustainable financing and effective implementation of the SDGs in Lebanon.

I take this opportunity to brief you on key steps that my Government has taken to advance on the SDGs agenda.

We launched the SDGs process last year, by building a strong institutional setup and mechanism. We established the National Committee for SDGs, which I personally chair, and includes representatives of the public administration, the private sector and civil society.

Our objectives were to first localize the ambitious global agenda according to our national needs, challenges, and resources;

second, ensure an effective engagement and ownership by all stakeholders; and third, adopt a bottom-up, inclusive, participatory and whole-of-government approach.

Last July, Lebanon presented its first Voluntary National Review report to the High Level Political Forum of the United Nations. Lebanon's report was very well received by the international community, and it demonstrated the seriousness of Lebanon in its commitment to the SDGs.

The report gave us the opportunity to reflect on our current status, existing gaps, aspirations and challenges.

Moreover, the conclusions of the report highlighted the need to prioritize the global goals going forward. It also underscored the need to ensure an integrated approach to development in Lebanon.

This important conclusion goes hand in hand with the approach that we are currently adopting when revisiting the projects in the Capital Investment Program presented at the CEDRE conference.

The vision presented by the Lebanese Government at the CEDRE conference, aligned with the global goals, lays down the solid foundation for growth, employment and development in Lebanon. The private sector has a central role to play in the implementation of this vision, and a number of promising investment opportunities await Lebanese and international businesses in Lebanon's Capital Investment Program.

The enactment of the PPP law, a year ago, has paved the way for these opportunities to effectively materialize, thereby also allowing Lebanon to mobilize private sector resources for the implementation of its development agenda.

I am happy to announce that we achieved important progress on this front over the past few months, and we launched three major infrastructure projects under PPP modalities: the expansion of the Rafic Hariri International Airport, the toll road from Khaldeh to Okaibeh, and Lebanon's national data center.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you, for your contribution to implementing the SDGs, through your Corporate Social Responsibility projects.

I was very pleased to hear about your achievements during my meeting with some of you two weeks ago.

Our solid partnership is key to advancing Lebanon's development and achieving inclusive growth for all the Lebanese. Your efforts complement our efforts. Your achievements complement our achievements. By working together, we can take the Lebanese economy to new levels. My priority is to support you so that your businesses can grow further. My priority is to provide you with modern legislation, state of the art infrastructure, and a stable Lebanon, and I want to assure you that I will continue down this path.

Finally, I wish to express my appreciation to MP Dima Jamali: I thank her and her colleagues in the Global Compact Network Lebanon Chapter for their efforts to push forward Lebanon's SDGs agenda.

I really appreciate the board that work with MP Dima Jamali and everyone, the hidden soldiers. I think that after all these achievements you will have many more achievements in the coming few years, we will achieve the 2030, for the sake of our children, of us because Lebanon needs to achieve these Global Goals."

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden read the following speech:

"Prince Daniel and I arrived in Lebanon only yesterday. But we are already impressed by the beauty of your country and by your warm hospitality.

The ties between Lebanon and Sweden are strong. And so are the ties between our people. Swedes of Lebanese descent have made a strong mark on culture, economy and politics of Sweden.

Like Lebanon, Sweden is a coastal nation. Historically, our countries have depended on the sea for our livelihood. And in many ways, we still do for tourism, for trade and for fishing. But also for recreation and inspiration.

Like many of you, I grew up by the sea. My sea is the Baltic - an inland sea about one seventh the size of the Mediterranean. Some of my fondest childhood memories are from there.

I remember how my father would take me fishing. We would sit there in our small boat, on the glittering sea, catching one fish after another.

Today, if I take my children fishing, I'm not sure we'll catch anything at all. Of the world's ten largest areas of dead seabed, seven are located in the Baltic Sea. My sea.

Climate change, pollution and overfishing are posing major threats to our oceans - and to us.

In 2016, I was honored to be appointed by the former Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-Moon, as an Advocate to promote the Global Sustainable Development Goals.

For me, it came natural to focus especially on Goal number 14; Life below water. This has given me, among other things, the opportunity to be part of the SeaBOS initiative: A result of an ongoing dialogue between scientists and seafood companies.

SeaBOS stands for Seafood Business for Ocean Stewardship. It involves the largest companies of the global seafood industry. These key actors are fierce competitors. But in this initiative both the CEO:s and the operational staff have managed to come together, setting new standards for their industry. They are now leading a global transformation towards sustainable seafood production and a healthy ocean.

This is just one example of business not just adapting to change, but actually leading it.

I believe we are going to see many more such examples in the near future. Not least here in Lebanon, with its entrepreneurial spirit and its strong private sector. I look very much forward to following the outcome of the Global Compact Network Lebanon and its newly established SDG Council.

A few weeks ago, I visited New York in connection with the opening of the UN General Assembly. There, together with the other advocates, I met with UN Secretary-General Ant?nio Guterres.

The Secretary-General's message was clear: in many areas of the 2030 Agenda, progress is being made. But in others, progress is much too slow to meet the Agenda's goals and targets by the deadline just twelve years away.

Just a few examples from the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals report:

- Nine out of ten people living in cities breathe polluted air.

- The number of undernourished people rose from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016. Mainly due to conflicts and drought and disasters linked to climate change.

- And the past five-year average global temperature is the highest on record.

The urgency of the situation was further underlined by the "1,5 degree" report published recently by the IPCC.

Ladies and gentlemen: The clock is ticking!

Let there be no doubt: the situation is serious - even alarming. But it is not hopeless.

Achieving the 2030 Agenda is difficult, but not impossible.

And the time to act is now - not later.

Prime Minister Hariri: I welcome Lebanon's determination to implement the 2030 Agenda, and I wish you the best of luck with this important task!

And please, remember: goals don't change the world - people do. You do".

Source: National News Agency