The Sustainable Development Goals in Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Samoa:
12 September 2023
The 2023 UN SDGs Summit – What does it mean for ordinary Samoans?
Come next week, Prime Minister of Samoa, the Honorable Fiame Naomi Mataafa will take a stand at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Summit in New York, as one of the leaders of the 193 member states of the UN, to proclaim Samoa’s commitments as a nation, towards accelerating the implementation of the SDGs. Taking place on the 18th and the 19th of September at the UN headquarters in New York, this is a crucial convening, considering the setbacks in the implementation of Agenda 2030 (the SDGs). Ahead of the UN SDGs Summit, the Government of Samoa with the UN Country Team in Apia recently held a national consultation on the SDGs. Samoa is the second country in the Pacific region to host such a significant consultation, and this is a vital step in its preparations for the Summit. It is a remarkable demonstration of the government's unwavering dedication to achieve the SDGs, and these SDGs are embodied in the Government of Samoa development aspirations to foster harmony, safety and freedom for all its people. The SDGs resonates with Samoa’s development priorities to foresee the creation of communities that are empowered and resilient and to inspire growth. On the other hand, Samoa’s national development contributes to the SDGs underlying aspirations of a world where people live in peace and enjoy prosperity from a planet that is safe and protected. As we reach the halfway point towards achieving the SDGs by 2030, the UN, in collaboration with member countries, is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of progress and challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted SDGs’ achievements. The recent SDG Progress Report shows that just 12 percent of the SDGs are targets are on track. Progress on 50 per cent is weak and insufficient. Alarmingly, we have stalled or gone into reverse on more than 30 per cent of the SDGs, globally. Assessing Samoa’s implementation progress against the SDGs targets and its aligned national development strategy is therefore of paramount importance to the people of Samoa. At Samoa's national SDGs consultations held on the 5th of September, the government presented its 2020 VNR, which highlighted both progress and challenges. The pandemic disrupted income generation, increased poverty, violence against women and children, food insecurity, and mental health issues. Samoa’s GDP fell by over 9 percent. These insights underscore the need for strategic investments to reignite progress on SDGs. In a context where the needs are abundant and resources are constrained, it is important to consider prioritization of key investments that would have the most positive spillover effects on other areas of need. Based on the UN’s analysis and the discussion at the national consultation, Samoa should consider prioritizing investments in food systems, job creation, social care, biodiversity and climate change. These investments not only address key challenges but also yield positive effects, including reducing violence against women. It is crucial for citizens to understand the implications of these decisions and actively engage in national development planning and SDGs policy discussions. The SDGs Summit provides a platform for governments to showcase their commitments, and it is where we can gauge whether these commitments will reverse the negative trajectory before 2030. The implementation of these commitments will require partnerships with all stakeholders and ordinary citizens also have an important role to play in the realization of the SDGs. Now let’s turn back to what the SDGs are all about. The 17 SDGs embody the aspirations of global leaders for a world marked by peace, equality, and prosperity for all, regardless of gender, religion, ethnicity, race, age, nationality, sexual orientation, geographical location or any other differences. The SDGs provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet. They provide benchmarks for realizing this vision and serve as a basis for dialogue between governments and their partners on development cooperation. Crucially, the SDGs underpin regional development strategies such as the 2050 strategy for the Blue Pacific continent as well as national development strategies, ensuring that the pursuit of regional and local goals aligns with global priorities. Samoa’s commitment to realizing Agenda 2030 is evident since it is one of the few small islands developing states (SIDS) that have submitted voluntary national reviews (VNRs) on SDGs achievement. By expressing its dedication to present its third VNR in 2024, Samoa aims to be among the few countries worldwide actively participating in this reporting process. But how much does the average Samoan citizen fully understand about the value and significance of the SDGs and the upcoming SDGs Summit? That is crucial. The 2019 survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF), tells us that the global awareness of the SDGs is relatively high, with 74 percent of adults being aware of them. Nonetheless, awareness levels vary significantly from country to country. There is a significant opportunity to raise awareness among Samoans about the importance of the SDGs, what they represent, and their relevance to daily life, and the United Nations is willing to partner and provide this support as relevant and resourceful as needed. Themba Kalua, UN Resident Coordinator - Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau
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06 September 2023
Act now and act together to progress the 17 Goals.
Eight years ago, world leaders of the United Nations’ member states, were bold and adopted a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals whilst complex and ambitious, when combined would help us realise a world where no one is left behind. A world where life is fulfilling with just governing systems, where everyone enjoys good health, are well-educated and earns sufficient income. A world where food is abundant and nutritious, the cost of energy is affordable and the environment is safe and protected. In the heart of such a world, are people that are safe and resilient to adapt and thrive, no matter what shakes the core of their existence. But that dream of such a world through the 17 SDG to come true by 2030, is not progressing as expected. Earlier this year, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed his grave concerns on SDGs achievement; “Halfway to the deadline for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we are leaving more than half the world behind.” “The SDG Progress Report shows that just 12 per cent of the Sustainable Development Goal targets are on track. Progress on 50 per cent is weak and insufficient. Worst of all, we have stalled or gone into reverse on more than 30 per cent of the SDGs.” “Unless we act now, the 2030 Agenda will become an epitaph for a world that might have been.” The call to act now and to act together, moved the UN Country Team in Samoa to immediately convene national SDG consultations with the countries they serve including Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tokelau, in response to the UN SG’s concerns on lack of SDGs progress.The UNCT Samoa in collaboration with Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade coordinated the Consultation bringing together the members of Samoa’s SDGs Taskforce and the UN at the Lava Hotel on Tuesday 5th of September, 2023. The Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peseta Noumea Simi reiterated in her official remarks at the opening of the Samoa SDG Consultation that accelerating progress of the SDGs requires robust approaches, collective and meaningful engagement of all partners. She added that this consultation is important because it enables genuine dialogue on Samoa’s efforts to localise the SDGs, and their integration and implementation through government’s national development priorities. The UN Resident Coordinator Themba Kalua acknowledged the leadership of the Government of Samoa and their commitment to fast track progress of the 17 SDGs goals, whilst emphasising that the ‘UN is very clear that the focus of SDGs acceleration efforts is entirely up to the Government of Samoa.’ Available indicators shows that the major challenges with SDGs progression for Samoa appears to surround the advancement of gender equality, reducing hunger, protecting life on land, and stimulating decent jobs and growth. Mapping Samoa’s SDGs challenges to the UN’s six areas for SDGs acceleration, and considering the SDGs interlinkages, suggests emphasis on investments in food systems, social protection and jobs, and biodiversity and nature to spur catalytic SDGs progress in Samoa. A UN Policy Brief concluded that it would cost Samoa approximately 16% of its GDP per year to achieve this, if it intended to progress all of its SDGs targets by 2030. Noting that the costs for SDGs achievement seemed unrealistic, a key recommendation following the UN’s discussion with the SDGs Taskforce was for the government to also focus its SDGs acceleration efforts on health and education, particularly given the high rates of NCDs and the shortage of labour on island being exacerbated by seasonal employment schemes. The Taskforce also stressed that the private sector and civil society should not be left behind in these discussions and decisions on the SDGs, given that such discussions are at the foundation of the key messages that Samoa will articulate at the global SDG Summit in later this month. Samoa completed its second Voluntary National Review of the SDGs in 2020 and is preparing for its third, which should be ready for circulation in 2024
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19 September 2023
Prime Minister of Samoa Addresses 2023 SDG Summit
The Secretary-General met with H.E. Ms. Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa, Prime Minister of Samoa. He welcomed Samoa’s chairmanship of the Alliance of Small Island States and emphasised that women and youth are on the frontlines of the climate fight and must play a role in decision-making and governance. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister exchanged views on the need to scale up international support for Samoa’s development and financing needs, particularly climate resilient infrastructure, coastal and marine conservation and restoration and human capital formation. The Secretary-General also commended Samoa’s leadership in advancing the work towards a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) and Loss & Damage fund, expressing the full support of the UN system to that end. New York, 17 September 2023
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10 April 2023
Pam, driving the vehicle of change for community women movements.
Fuatino Pam Sua or affectionately known as ‘Pam’ first became involved in the business of the Samoa National Council Women (SNCW), simply by being the driver for its founding President, Masiofo Fetauimalemau Mataafa. In 1972, I was sent home after schooling in New Zealand. While in NZ, I taught myself how to drive. Thankfully, it was my driving skills that the late Masiofo Fetauimalemau, called me to drive her around and do the bidding of the old ladies of the SNCW, taking them to meetings and so forth. I enjoyed the driving because I also got to sit in, listen and understand the governance and operations of the Council. Most important was the relationships with the old ladies and the knowledge and wisdom shared amongst them that I even learnt so much from it. Some years later, Pam was assigned the role of managing the SNCW finances. Fast forward to 2012, just before Samoa’s celebration of its independence, Pam was organizing lunch and making transportation arrangements for the SNCW members from Savaii and Upolu. I was about to leave, but the Hon. Fiame Naomi, the daughter of the late Masiofo Fetauimalemau and the President of the SNCW called me over and said, “before you leave, you’ve just been appointed the new secretary”. That day my responsibilities multiplied. I am in charge of managing the organization and trying to live up to the expectations and vision of the Samoan matriarchs that came before us and paved the way for the women’s movement in Samoa for generations that followed. Pam is at the heart of mobilizing and uniting women from the villages around Samoa under the umbrella of the SNCW and she was involved for over fifty years. The SNCW was set up in 1953 and is an umbrella organization for village women’s committees in Samoa. The SNCW is premised on the value of Samoan women’s traditional statuses and social standing, namely ‘Sa’o Ao (daughters of village men and women), faletua ma tausi (wives of paramount chiefs and orators), and āvā a taulele’a (wives of untitled men). This social group plays an integral role in supporting the village’s local governance with its developments and advocacies filtering across to the other influential players of the village, namely, the village council, untitled men and the youth. In 2015, the SNCW embarked on an institutional strengthening programme to redefine its purpose and review the organization’s constitution and to explore whether its purpose and existence was still relevant. At the time, the SNCW was a member of the CRC and CEDAW Partnership Committees coordinated under the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD). One of the key development issues requiring a whole-of country approach, was family violence. The SNCW received funding from the Government of Australia to fund the Samoa Shaping Women’s Development programme through MWCSD to implement a nationwide advocacy campaign on the prevention of violence against women and girls using traditional learning methods through the art of community conversations. Spearheaded with technical assistance from Palanitina Tupuimatagi Toelupe, 41 villages were covered, and we collaborated with the women’s committees, women’s church fellowship, including youth groups to deliver this advocacy with the hope that the women themselves will drive their own destiny and facilitate social change through this movement. This community-centered programme was our steppingstone into reviving our focus on ending violence against women and girls (EVAWG) and linking it to good governance and leadership. Building on from the momentum in 2015, the support from the EU & UN Spotlight Initiative in 2020 has elevated this work with 16 women’s committees from Upolu and Savaii engaging and joining in the movement. The Spotlight’s involvement added weight to the community conversations to strengthen the advocacy of eliminating violence against women and girls. And the Spotlight focus was through leadership programmes to empower the women’s committees to gain confidence as they are the gatekeepers of what is happening within their own communities. Contextualized trainings were offered to women members of the SNCW on EVAWG using the transformational leadership tool to advocate and disseminate the information and learnings to women in their villages to address violence against women and girls including intimate partner violence. Our training content and practical exercises worked on confidence and advocacy building within their own women’s committee settings and when advocating for support from the village council of chiefs. For instance, they were reminded through the programme to remember and understand the order of the Alii ma Faipule – village council of chiefs. There was nothing worse than coming in only just to be chased out. The Spotlight Initiative programme was well received, the lessons learned, and the work of the trained women was effective to create awareness and advocacy for other committees to grow the need and the urge to be part of the SNCW. A testimony from Mrs Vine Sefo Samia, Samatau Council Women, participant in the SNCW leadership trainings – Spotlight gave us the tools to run our own advocacy activities in the village reaching all age groups, especially the young men and women, who have a better understanding than before. We visit families and encourage mothers to not be afraid to speak out and seek help. We encourage open communication and dialogue between the mothers and their daughters on sexual reproductive health and rights of women and girls, and how to prevent sexual and physical violence. We lobbied for leadership and good governance support from our Alii and Faipule and church ministers which led to having in place village policy and laws to address violence against women and girls, we remind the families and fathers about their duty to protect and keep the peace in the village. Conversations are being made, collaborations amongst the traditional structures of the village and women have been made stronger. We do not see nor hear of any new incidents of violence these are the good changes that have come about due to the strong advocacy by the women of the Samatau council. We cannot afford to be complacent, we have to continue the advocacy as we are the Spotlight champions in our village to effect the change in norms, attitudes and behavior to end violence. The leadership training was to advance the work we had already started and become self-reliant to not wait for handouts but to stand up and lead from the home and from the community, to be caregivers and oversee their communities and the issues that pertain to women and girls. This all tied in when in times of crisis especially when the measles epidemic hit Samoa in 2019, the committees mobilized into action in terms of ensuring sanitation and caring support to prevent the spread of measles amongst our most vulnerable groups, our children. The Spotlight Initiative-UNDP partnership with SNCW dovetailed into the community conversation programme and expanded it. The leadership programme under Spotlight allowed the committees of women and girls to flourish and build confidence in themselves to such a degree it enabled them to lobby, speak out and empower the traditional village setting to listen and consider their needs and issues. Women and girls must lead from the front, because they are the ones who understand what is needed and to collaborate with each other, amplify and complement each other’s work. They have the capacity and know how to carry out their work and the leadership programme through the Spotlight Initiative brought about the change in confidence and know-how to be the voice for women, girls, and children. We utilized the Samoan ways and tools we have in place to put a focus on bringing to light the violence against women, girls and children and advocating for a better change. "As you witnessed, our perseverance bore fruit with the President of the SNCW becoming the first woman Prime Minister for this country.” The rest is history. This story has been rewritten from its original form as published in the Spotlight Initiative Magazine 2022 | Stories of Change.
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27 April 2023
UNDP Samoa Accelerator Lab wins global Japan SDG Innovation Challenge
Apia, Samoa – In a first for Samoa, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Accelerator Lab (AccLab) has won one, of only two spots, for the Japan SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) Innovation Challenge. Samoa and Zimbabwe are the only AccLabs selected from a pool of 91 UNDP AccLabs across the world. The Challenge will enable the UNDP Samoa AccLab to implement an innovative project to convert fish skin into sustainable fish leather. This project aims to maximize the economic benefits of the entire fish caught, instead of just the flesh whilst discarding other fish parts, thus lending the project its name: “100% Fish Use”. The fish leather will be manufactured through a sustainable process. The eco-friendly fish leather is an exotic leather and will be an addition to the existing Samoan handicrafts/products such as wallets, business card holders and other items, popular as souvenirs. There is also a huge demand for fish leather overseas and this has the potential to increase additional avenues for export. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) AccLab is partnering with Think Sea Corp, a Japanese company, to implement this project through funding from the Japan Cabinet Office (CAO). This Challenge is facilitated by the Japan Innovation Network. The contract between UNDP Samoa and Think Sea Corps was signed in March 2023 and the project is now ready for implementation. “Over 40 to 60% of the caught fish is currently being dumped or underused. Furthermore, there is very little data on the amount of fish waste generated in Samoa. This project, in addition to assigning economic value to fish waste, will also boost the data on fish waste,” said Jorn Sorensen, Resident Representative, UNDP Samoa. The founders of the Think Sea Corp will spend two months in Samoa to experiment with the fish skin type available locally and create samples of leather. They will also train the target communities on the low-cost process of leather production, enabling communities to take up new entrepreneurial opportunities of producing, utilizing, and selling fish leather. "We are thrilled to embark on this project to contribute to the protection of the marine environment and sustainable development with the team at UNDP Samoa. As awareness of the importance of marine conservation continues to grow, we take great pride in being able to support sustainable economic development while making use of ocean resources. Through this project, we hope to make valuable contributions to the local communities by leveraging our respective expertise and skills to pursue meaningful impact,” said Tomohisa Noguchi, Founder, Think Sea Corp. The 100% Fish Use project is a critical milestone for Samoa not only in terms of expanding the blue economy, but also a successful example of connecting technology and innovation from the private sector to local contexts, accelerating progress on the SDGs. -ENDS- For media queries, please contact: Tomohisa Noguchi, Think Sea Corp, firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.tototoleather.com/en Laufaleaina Lesa, UNDP Multi Country Office, Samoa|Tel. +685 23670|E: email@example.com www.ws.undp.org @UNDP in Samoa, Cook Islands, Tokelau & Niue @undpsamoa
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