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The Japanese civil society delegation at the Forum. Picture credit: JWCU

 

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) organized the North-East Asian Multi-stakeholder Forum on SDGs from September 5-6, 2018 at Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The forum provided an opportunity to bring together stakeholders from the Governments of East and North-East Asia (China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, and Russian Federation), academia, international community and civil society to: (1) share experiences and key challenges and opportunities for the implementation of selected SDGs; and (2) provide sub-regional inputs and perspectives for regional and global forums in 2019, notably, the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) and the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The overall theme was “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” and the selected goals for review were quality education (Goal 4), decent work and economic growth (Goal 8), reduced inequalities (Goal 10), climate action (Goal 13), and peace and justice (Goal 16) and partnership (Goal 17). The Japan Workers’ Co-operative Union (JWCU), a member of ICA-AP, participated in the forum as a member of the Japanese civil society delegation, consisting of major NGOs in Japan such as the Japan Civil Society Network on SDGs.

 

 The first day of the Forum began with an opening remark by Mr. Zandanshatar G., the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the Mongolia government. He said that, “We are keen to share experiences and learn from each other’s achievements and challenges in implementing the Global Goals, support each other in the SDGs progress and foster mutual cooperation on the Regional Roadmap to the SDGs.”

 

The keynote speech was delivered by Mr. Jeffrey Sachs via a video message. Mr. Sachs, a Professor at the Columbia University and the special advisor to the UN secretary-general on the SDGs, argued the six transformation challenges of sustainable development as follows: (1) education, gender and inequality; (2) health and wellbeing; (3) clean energy and industry; (4) sustainable food and land use; (5) smart cities and transport; and (6) digital technologies and e-governance. The session following dealt with the progress in the implementation of the 2030 agenda and highlighted the key challenges and opportunities for the implementation in the north-east Asian region. Then the participants were divided into six groups by the selected goals (goal 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17), and each group discussed the key challenges in their countries and fields. Osamu Nakano, a board member of JWCU and its international relations officer, joined the session on goal 8, and argued how crucial co-operatives were in the creation of “decent work” and employment throughout the world.

 

On the second day, the progress of the implementation of the SDGs in Mongolia was discussed, and the participants from the knowledge institutions in several countries (China, Japan, Mongolia and Republic of Korea) reported their projects on the SDGs. At the end of the two-day forum, the CSOs from five countries (China, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Russia) issued “the Civil Society Organization Statement” to urge all governments in the north-east Asian region to be actively engaged in the SDGs in close cooperation with CSOs. JWCU signed the statement. After the forum, the   Japanese civil society delegation had a meeting with major NGOs in Mongolia. JWCU also participated in the meeting and discussed the critical question of “how to develop the partnership among NGOs/NPOs, co-operatives, labor unions and other CSOs toward the implementation of the SDGs?”

 

According to Mr. Nakano, “The forum was a very good opportunity to share the ongoing circumstances surrounding the SDGs in the north-east Asian region as well as the key challenges among various stakeholders. He was a bit surprised that only JWCU participated in the forum from the co-operative sector of this region. Indeed, there are so many co-operatives in the north-east Asian region that have already contributed to the implementation of the SDGs. We should be further engaged actively in the discussion among  stakeholders by joining such international forums.”

 

* This article was submitted by Mr. Osamu Nakano. Mr. Nakano is the Director of International Relations at Japan Workers’ Co-operative Union (JWCU), a position he has held since July 2017. He concurrently serves as a board member of JWCU. He also serves as a staff member of the Japan Co-operative Alliance (JCA), a new organization aim at organizing all co-operatives in Japan, and as a visiting researcher at Tokyo University.