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South Asian Speakers Summit on SDGs focuses on gender equality and climate change

IPU President Saber Chowdhury addressing the Summit.

IPU President Saber Chowdhury addressing the Summit. © Asif Dullah

Speakers of Parliaments from South Asia met to discuss the implementation of the SDGs in the region. The South Asian Speakers’ Summit on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals further defined the opportunities and challenges facing their parliaments in working to implement the SDGs.

Participants followed up on the Dhaka Declaration they adopted in in 2016 and shared their experiences on how parliaments in the region were institutionalizing the global goals and building coherence at the policy level. IPU President Saber Chowdhury presented the Self-Assessment Toolkit for Parliaments on the SDGs—co-produced with UNDP—as a tool to help parliaments support SDG implementation.

Participants adopted the Indore Declaration, which reflects on gender and other types of inequalities as major impediments to the achievement of the SDGs in the region. The declaration called for the creation of gender-sensitive bodies, especially at the grassroots level, and legislative measures to protect women against discrimination, sexual harassment and violence. The Declaration also recognized that achieving the SDGs was closely linked to addressing the challenge of climate change and called for more cooperation among South Asian countries on this. It also asked IPU to facilitate dialogue to achieve the goals and suggested that South Asian parliaments devote one day per session to deliberations on SDGs. Participants agreed to look into establishing joint parliamentary bodies to work on issues identified by the Summit as important for regional cooperation.

This was the first meeting of the South Asian Speakers’ Forum on Achieving the SDGs, which was formed at a meeting of Speakers of Parliament from South Asia in Dhaka in January 2016. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha of India, Ms. Sumitra Mahajan, took over as Chair of the Forum. The summit, which was co-organized by IPU and the Parliament of India, took place in Indore, India, from 18 to 19 February. It was attended by Speakers of Parliament from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The next summit will take place in Sri Lanka.