I consider it indeed an honour to deliver the opening remarks at this very important side event, during the 2016 High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development.
I am equally delighted and honoured for the opportunity to co-sponsor the side event, along with Tunisia, UN Women, UN Evaluation Group, Eval Gender and other UN agencies. With its strong commitment for gender and social equality, particularly in the context of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, Sri Lanka co-sponsored a similar side event in partnership with UN Women in March this year on “Evaluating SDGs with an equity focused and gender-response lens”.
Continuing our strong partnership with UN Women, we co-sponsor today’s event, as a follow-up to the event held in March, which would, no doubt, contribute to the stimulating dialogue on the subject.
I thank Mr. Marco Segone, Chair of the UN Evaluation Group and Director, UN Women Independent Evaluation Office for giving Sri Lanka the opportunity to co-host the event, and to open the session.
In order to promote accountability to their citizens, we the Member States are committed to providing for systematic follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development at the national, regional and global levels. In a situation where the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development has been mandated to play the central role in overseeing follow-up and review processes at the global level, it is extremely timely for us to focus on evaluation in the service of national SDG review mechanisms, focusing on gender equality and social equality, while the Forum is being held simultaneously. This is particularly significant in the context of this year’s theme of the HLPF i.e. “Ensuring that no one is left behind”.
It is heartening to observe that in the last decade, the global evaluation community have been developing evaluation approaches that are equity-focused and gender-responsive. The challenge now is to further strengthen national evaluation capacities to support inclusive and equitable development efforts, including national follow-up and review processes on the implementation of the SDGs.
It would be critical to focus on the gender responsiveness and social equity of our evaluation systems as we follow-up on and review the progress of the implementation of the new global development agenda. These areas need our particular attention so as to ‘leave no one behind’. As the Secretary-General’s SDG Progress report points out, “Gender equality remains a persistent challenge for countries worldwide and the lack of such equality is a major obstacle to sustainable development.” Similarly, inequalities within and among countries also pose significant inhibitions to achieving the goal of sustainable development.
We, in Sri Lanka are acutely aware of the importance of applying gender equality and social equality to evaluation, in our follow-up and review processes of the 2030 agenda, at national level. The Ministry of Sustainable Development of Sri Lanka has commenced work on a National Sustainable Development Roadmap that will lead towards the formulation of a legislative and institutional framework, a national strategy and an action plan. In our work, we make all endeavours to apply gender and social equality perspectives with a view to ensuring that ‘no one is left behind’ in our quest for sustainable development. In Sri Lanka, we have realized the importance of having inclusiveness at all stages of the implementation of the SDGs. Therefore, we have initiated a process themed “Planning for an Inclusive Transformation”, which is the foundation for evolving the “National Sustainable Development Roadmap”.
As we face the challenge of further strengthening our national evaluation systems, it is imperative that capacity-building support be provided to developing countries to enhance their evaluation programmes and national data systems. Strengthening national data systems would enable us to accurately gauge the gender responsiveness of our evaluation systems. High –quality, accessible, timely, reliable and disaggregated data is the key to measure the progress of the implementation of the SDGs.
Today, we are privileged to have with us a very distinguished, high-level panel to discuss the steps that are being taken in their respective countries to strengthen national evaluation systems, and how gender responsive and equity-focused those systems are. I am certain that we are poised for a very stimulating and thought provoking discussion that would give us the opportunity to learn from each other’s experience. These experiences will guide us to look at our evaluation methods in the follow-up and review processes of the implementation of the SDGs at national levels in our countries, through a gender-responsive and equity lens.
I look forward to a stimulating exchange of views and interaction.