Sustainable Development: The Path to EU Accession
On 25 July, the UN Kosovo Team, with its agencies, funds and programmes, in close cooperation with the Office of the Prime Minister, the EU and USAID organized a “Discussion Forum on Sustainable Development”. This conversation aimed to look at new opportunities to build partnerships and identify synergies between national policies for Kosovo’s EU aspiration and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or the Agenda 2030. The attendees also discussed the alignment of Kosovo’s EU accession policies to the commitments to contribute to SDGs.
The event was organized as part of the Western Balkans support from the UNDPs Istanbul Regional Hub (IRH) on the SDG integration. The speakers included: H.E. Mr. Isa Mustafa, Prime Minister of Kosovo; Mr. James Hope, Mission Director, USAID; Mr. Luigi Brusa- Head of Cooperation Section, EUO, Mr. Ben Slay, Senior Advisor/ Chief Economist of UNDP/IRH and Heads of the UN agencies, the representatives of the CoE, the EU, representatives of Embassies, ministries and representatives from the civil society.
UN Development Coordinator Andrew Russell welcomed participants while drawing attention to Sustainable Development Agenda that is enshrined in Kosovar legislation, noting that “We are here to help you make your work more aligned with Agenda 2030, more visible, measurable and also comparable to the region”.
Prime Minister Mustafa affirmed his commitment to education, health, social protection, employment and environmental protection to offer Kosovo the path for real progress on EU accession. “We want to be a part of sustainable of development,” he said, adding that Kosovo can overcome all the challenges it faces if we work together.
Furthermore, the Policy advisor of the Prime Minister, Vedat Sagonjeva, in his presentation spoke about how Kosovo’s commitment to sustainable development could potentially open up to including more SDG data and indicators, beyond those already in the NDS Roadmap. These are necessary means to measure Kosovo’s progress through the NDS and other sectoral policies.
USAID Mission Director, James Hope said he remained optimistic about the future of Kosovo’s progress, considering all the evidence of the country’s growth. He recalled one example of women from different ethnicities farming and partnering together to reach their common goal- getting their products out to market for a better life while contributing to sustaining peace. He added that the newly signed support from the Millennium Challenge Corporation will make an additional correlation with SDGs as the Threshold will be supporting rule of law, gender equality, and economic growth. “Not one of us can do it alone,” Hope said as he explained the important role of partnerships in sustainable development and EU integration.
The Senior Advisor of UNDP in IRH, presented the key connectors and alignment of the EU policies with the agenda 2030 as the major driver of development in Western Balkans. This opportunity can be of major help even if roughly two-thirds of the global SDG indicators are still in need of the further revision of relevant data.
Todd Kirkbride, Senior Advisor for The Partnering Initiative, elaborated on possible avenues for businesses as new partners in the development areas. Their collaboration with civil society, the international community and Kosovar institutions is picking up. He outlined the shared value of sound and efficient business outcomes synergizing with development efforts. “Only by working together can we achieve our business goals and our development goals,” he said.
Executive Director of the Civikos Platform, Valdete Idrizi, shared the benefits civil society partnerships can also have while assisting those living in poverty or suffering from discrimination. She called for “targeting those who are socially excluded, as leaders and everyday Kosovars contribute to development”.
The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development sets out a comprehensive vision and universal blueprint to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. With its pledge to leave no one behind, the Agenda 2030 is our boldest agenda for humanity. The 17 Global Goals promote human rights and economic, social and environmental sustainability. They are interconnected, universal, inclusive and indivisible: we need to achieve all the Goals to build the future we want.
The UNKT with the EU and other participants at the forum walked away committed to supporting institutions and civil society in making the global goals the foundation of Kosovo’s development agenda for a fully inclusive, thriving and sustainable society, where no one is left behind. As Kosovo moves forward, to the conclusion is that there is progress but also more work is needed to ensure that the sustainable development is the path to EU accession and that can only happen if no Kosovar is left behind.