Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (second right) with other politicians at Phnom Penh International Airport on Oct. 6 for King Norodom Sihamoni's departure to China for a health check-up. (Photo: AFP)
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested the 2030 deadline for meeting sustainable development goals (SDGs) might need to be pushed back due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and rising protectionism, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
At a meeting on "Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Era of Covid-19 and Beyond," he said the pandemic has caused numerous disruptions.
He said efforts by member states to meet targets had declined because of a need to shift policy priorities and resources to combat the coronavirus and the growing adherence to nationalism and protectionism by some global superpowers.
SDGs were adopted by all UN member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.
Through the United Nations Development Programme, nations recognized that action in one area could affect outcomes in others and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Member states committed to fast-track progress for those furthest behind in achieving several life-changing "zeros" including zero poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls.
Speaking at a recent virtual 2020 Sustainable Development Impact Summit of the World Economic Forum, Hun Sen also thanked development partners for their financial and technical support during the pandemic while urging more international aid to meet SDG targets.
“At the global level, we have to continue ensuring the sustainability of international aid, particularly financial aid for developing countries, so that they can continue to drive their reforms which are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.
“In this context, on behalf of the government, I express my profound gratitude and sincere appreciation to all development partners for their proactive cooperation and technical and financial assistance. They have enabled Cambodia to effectively control the spread of Covid-19.”
He has also said Cambodia’s economy needs to diversify after the tourism industry was gutted by the pandemic and the European Union withdrew some trade preferences because of the country’s human rights record.
Covid-19 and the lost trade perks have hurt the garment and textile industries, a once lucrative industry employing some 700,000 people.
Last month the US Department of State pledged about US$153.6 million for cooperation projects across the Mekong region, including crime fighting, data sharing and disaster management.
It also announced the Mekong-US Partnership (MUSP) based on the Lower Mekong Initiative initiated by the US in 2009. The MUSP is aimed at promoting peace, stability and prosperity across the region while helping to realize the 2030 SDG targets.