(Taipei, October 8, 2018) Today and tomorrow (October 8-9), Taiwan Alliance in International Development (Taiwan AID) is holding the 2018 Asian NGOs International Development Conference on “Transforming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Action: Engagement, Leadership and Innovation” at the GIS NTU Convention Center in Taipei.
Vice President Chen Chien-jen, and Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs James Lee, attended the event to show their support. In all 200 people from 17 countries joined the conference, including the First Vice President of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO), Cyril Ritchie, who delivered a keynote speech on how to transform the SDGs into action.
Mr. Ritchie mentioned when he visited Taiwan last year he also met the Vice President. Praising Mr. Chen for his knowledge of Taiwan’s civil society, government and corporate sectors, Mr. Ritchie also acknowledged the Vice President’s role in helping achieve the SDGs.
Mr. Ritchie touched on what he considers the “irrational” exclusion of Taiwan’s 23 million people from the UN system, but said despite the obstacles, Taiwan could participate through other channels, such as the Taiwan AID conference.
Moving on to the background and future potential of the SDGs, in his suggestions for action, Mr. Ritchie urged governments to fulfil their promises and implement the decisions repeated in official declarations. Budget and time constraints should not be obstacles to implementation, said Mr. Ritchie.
In his remarks, Vice President Chen thanked Taiwan AID for holding the conference, which showed the influence of Taiwanese NGOs, and Taiwan’s commitment to global citizenship.
Mr. Chen, who has joined every Taiwan AID biannual conference since the first event in 2012, said official policies should reflect the SDGs, noting with pride that the government had completed a voluntary national review on SDG implementation and future plans to improve people’s lives in terms of environmental protection, healthcare, green energy, education and other areas.
Turning to the New Southbound policy, Mr. Chen said Taiwan is helping other countries to achieve the SDGs by building lasting partnerships. He praised Taiwanese NGOs for their efforts to meet the SDGs by working together with the government in Southeast Asian countries.
Mentioning NGO contributions to international aid, Mr. Chen said Taiwan’s model of health insurance and its green energy industry could be a model for other nations. The Vice President promised the SDGs would not be an empty promise, and although there is a long way to go, the government would be a partner of civil society.
Another distinguished guest invited to speak at the conference is Ohashi Masaaki from Japan, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Japan NGO Center for International Cooperation. With many years of professional experience in international development, Mr. Ohashi will promote understanding of the SDGs, and the role youth can play in risk reduction and creativity.
Rebecca Wang, Chairperson of Taiwan AID, said the conference would adopt a multi-sector approach to discuss how civil society organizations can help implement the SDGs in an inclusive way. The conference will focus on three themes of South-South cooperation, youth empowerment, and private sector engagement. A wide array of subjects will be covered, including the environment, women, youth empowerment, volunteerism, food supply, human rights, democracy, and corporate social responsibility.
Ms. Wang stressed the importance of official development aid (ODA) in joint promotion of the New Southbound policy by the government and civil society.
The biggest reward for attendees at the 2018 Asian NGO International Development Conference is that everyone from private sector to civil society representatives can play their own part in making the world a better place.