24-26 September 2019 | KATHMANDU – UCLG ASPAC, represented by Secretary General Dr. Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi as Task Team Member, joined approximately selected 80 representatives of various global level organisations discussing progress of SDGs localisation and other related issues, including opportunities and challenges faced, in the Policy Forum on Development (PFD) Asia Regional Meeting. The meeting was organised by European Commission (EC) in Kathmandu (Nepal) from 24 to 26 September 2019.

Secretary General Bernadia I. Tjandradewi, in her welcome remarks, put emphasis on the needs of accelerated efforts for SDGs implementation. Her suggestion refers to the fact that only 33% of SDGs Voluntary National Report in Asia Pacific region includes local governments. Further, she also mentioned, during discussion on regional progress, that in Asia Pacific context, SDGs are viewed as way to renew the social contract. “Local government is using SDGs to build partnerships and to work cross sector to achieve development goals,” she said.

Wardarina, Programme Officer, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development, pointed out that major systemic barrier include patriarchy and the rise of patriarchal authoritarian governments, as it organises a set of rules that normalises fear. “Women cheap labour is still considered a competitive advantage. There is still rising inequality,” she said.

From the sharing of Gomer Padong, Director, Philippine Social Enterprise Network, PFD Asia delegates also learned about social enterprises as an empowering tool for the localisation of SDGs in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, among other areas. He said that social enterprises “are private and create wealth. But the difference lies in their redistribution of the wealth they create.” According to him, including social enterprise in multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve SDGs ensures ethos redistribution in partnerships for development.

Collaboration of local governments and civil society organisations is at heart of this discussion. Claire Frost, Programme Manager, Commonwealth Local Government Forum and PFD Task Team Member, while acknowledging the existence of legal mechanisms in some countries, she strongly suggested for the mechanisms to go further and/or focus on most marginalised communities and specific role of associations.

As PFD Meeting is designated to facilitate discussion on cross-cutting issues, discussion on climate change also came up. Key points of discussion included suggestion that climate policy dialogues included discussions and action to protect and safeguard on the lives and rights of climate activists and environment defenders, as currently there is no real political commitment of states to address climate crisis when environment defenders are attacked.

Other insight from Asia Pacific region was also shared by Mayor Nelson Legacion of Naga City (Philippines). He shared his city’s experience in people empowerment mentioning, “Civic engagement has been institutionalised through participatory budgeting and Naga City People’s Council (NCPC).”

Policy Forum on Development 3rd Asia Regional Meeting returned to Asia after last Regional Meeting held in Bangkok (June, 2015). Attending this meeting was UCLG ASPAC Secretary General Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi in her capacity as PFD Task Team Member. Besides, UCLG ASPAC has also been acknowledged for its commitment in developing capacity of local governments to translate SDGs into action through training activities and incorporate the idea in the 5th ASEAN Mayors Forum taking theme “Driving Local Actions for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth.”