PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE PROMOTION: Malta presents its first Voluntary National Review on UN Sustainable Development Goal implementation; Diplomatic relations established with Palau

Reference Number: PR181609, Press Release Issue Date: Jul 19, 2018

Malta’s progress on the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was outlined in the country’s first-ever Voluntary National Report (VNR), which was presented to the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York on the 18th of July 2018.

Malta’s VNR provides an overview of the implementation stages reached in respect of all the 17 SDGs, based on the input of all government ministries, public entities, civil society, and the business community.

The 2030 Agenda was endorsed by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit, and officially came into force on 1st January 2016.  With these universal goals, countries are mobilising their efforts in a bid to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, and tackle climate change. The High-Level Political Forum is the UN’s central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and SDG implementation.

As the Maltese Minister responsible for international development, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion Carmelo Abela led a Maltese delegation to New York, where he addressed the HLPF. In his remarks (full speech attached), he explained how Malta has already met—and, at times, exceeded—a number of national SDG targets. He also fielded questions from the floor.

The main points highlighted in the Minister’s presentation included the adoption of the Sustainable Development Act, mandating government to mainstream sustainable development in its policies; Malta having become one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union through the implementation of a long-term vision geared towards increased foreign and domestic investment, economic growth, and productivity; an increase in investment in education and employment; the provision of free childcare for children whose parents are in employment or in education; having made gender equality and reduced inequalities a veritable national priority; the adoption of a national Anti-Money Laundering Strategy and a Strategy Combatting the Financing of Terrorism; the lowering of the risk of poverty and social exclusion in Malta to below the EU average; initiatives on sustainable water management; the designation of 35 per cent of the country’s waters as marine protected areas; a significant upgrading and diversification of renewable energy resources; the commitment to continue addressing environmental challenges emanating from population density; a draft National Agricultural Policy for the period 2018 to 2028, with a vision towards a more sustainable agricultural sector; a substantial investment in infrastructure; public-private and civil society partnerships, such as the recently-established Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence, which allow for collaboration on several projects that contribute to development; and the launch of the the revised Implementation Plan to Malta’s Official Development Assistance Policy.

“Notwithstanding the challenges faced by Malta as an island state – particularly due to its insularity and peripherality, lack of natural resources, financing for development constraints, and a high population density – the Government of Malta remains fully committed to the SDG goals and the aims of Agenda 2030, for the benefit of present and future generations,” Minister Abela told the Assembly.

On the margins of the HLPF, Malta’s Foreign Minister held a bilateral meeting with the President of Palau Thomas Esang Remengesau Jr., before the two presided over the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations was signed by Carmel Inguanez and Ngedikes Olai Uludong, the Permanent Representatives of Malta and Palau to the UN in New York respectively. “We’re delighted to formalise our countries’ friendship,” said Minister Abela. “Despite the geographical distance, Malta and Palau are two small island states that share several common interests and concerns, particularly in respect of maritime issues.”

Minister Abela also held a bilateral meeting with the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations’ Counter-Terrorism Office, Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov, focusing on the prevention of violent extremism. Malta’s Foreign Minister noted that terrorism has become a crime with no borders and subject to various jurisdictions, and that only through closer cooperation between the governments and law enforcement authorities of various countries, can terrorism be properly fought.  No one nation can wage an effective battle on its own.

Minister Abela’s commitments in New York also included a courtesy visit to the President of the UN’s General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák; a briefing session by the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virgina Gamba, about the Office’s work; and an event organised by Liechtenstein to mark the World Day for International Justice 2018.


Photos (MFTP):

1. Minister Carmelo Abela addressing the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), flanked by Malta’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Carmel Inguanez.

2. General shot during Minister Abela’s speech to the HLPF.

3. Minister Abela with the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations’ Counter-Terrorism Office, Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov.

4. Minister Abela with the President of the UN’s General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák.