S. Asian nations should strengthen cooperation - Speaker

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday, said that Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries should strengthen regional cooperation. He also called for collaboration between Parliaments to achieve Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaker Jayasuriya was speaking at the inauguration of South Asian Speaker’s Summit in Colombo, yesterday.

“The SDGs are an opportunity for South Asian Parliamentarians to demonstrate our commitment to improving the lives of people and the health of the planet on which all human existence depends,” said Jayasuriya, who also served as the Minister of Power and Energy from 2001 to 2004.

The Speaker also called for a sustained effort on behalf of all participants in the Summit to fulfill the objectives of the Indore Declaration.

Following up on the initiatives of the second South Asian Speaker’s Summit in Indore, India and the first summit in Dhaka in Bangladesh, Jayasuriya enumerated the highs and lows of Sri Lanka’s efforts to fulfill the promises of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as agreed upon in Dhaka and the subsequent Indore Declaration.

He cited the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee for Sustainable Development and the enactment of the Sustainable Development Act No. 19 of 2017, as key achievements in Sri Lanka’s initiative to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda.

The Indore Declaration calls for poverty eradication, gender equality, climate change and disaster management and regional connectivity, among other, more nuanced goals.

Accordingly, Jayasuriya highlighted the surprising post-tsunami decline in the national poverty rate from 15.2% in 2006 to 4.1% in 2017. He also mentioned Sri Lanka’s near gender parity on educational measures and notable improvements in physical infrastructure connectivity across the island.

Jayasuriya brought up Sri Lanka’s gender inequality in political representation and high child poverty rate, which exceeds the national average. And, he added that the challenges of climate change are escalating, as evinced by the increased frequency and heightened intensity of natural disasters on the island.

Calling the SDGs, “a robust framework around which Parliaments could base their strategic plans and pursue their oversight and accountability work,” Jayasuriya stressed the strategic importance of SDGs, but emphasized that such high-reaching goals could not be achieved by the government alone.

“A ‘whole of society approach,’ is important to attain this very ambitious agenda,” he said, “all actors have an equal stake to participate in SDG implementation.”Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Inter Parliamentary Union President

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