Malta has won the inaugural Commonwealth Award for Excellence in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Implementation, with Namibia and the Bahamas also scooping prizes.
During a ceremony in Malta on 26-27 June, hosted by the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence (CSSCOE), the country was recognised for its whole-of-government approach with particular praise for efforts to integrate SDGs into development planning.
Malta’s operations director-general in the environment, sustainable development and climate change division, Dennis Buttigieg, accepted the award on behalf of the department’s permanent secretary, Joseph Caruana.
He said: “Malta has been recognised as an effective model of good SDG implementation.
“We look forward to continuing sharing experiences and lessons learned for the benefit of SDGs across the Commonwealth.”
Countries were assessed by a panel of judges representing Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Pacific regions. Namibia received an award for aligning SDGs at a local level while The Bahamas was recognised for introducing institutional mechanisms focussing on education, energy reform and improving infrastructure.
Malta’s Minister for the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Dr José Herrera, said: “The Commonwealth is an extremely important international entity. It is generous and comprises almost one third of the world's population. Sustainability is an extremely important topic and is pivotal for future generations”.
By recognising, promoting and incentivising SDG implementation amongst Commonwealth small states, the meeting facilitated discussion on experiences, lessons learnt and sharing of best practice.
Bangladesh cabinet secretary, Mohammed Shafiul Alamstated, said: “There are so many examples of best practice all over the world, especially in Commonwealth countries. Bangladesh can share their experiences and replicate in our country.”
Countries were nominated based on submissions of their 2018 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), showing commitment to SDG implementation.
Speaking by video link, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We hope the recognition offered by the Commonwealth Awards for Excellence in SDG Implementation will be an encouragement, and will motivate the governments of small states to ever higher levels of implementation towards achievement.
“Our focus is on the quality of systems in place to facilitate progress, rather than final achievement of the SDGs.”
Another key focus of the two-day event was to guide the CSSCOE to provide focused research, capacity building and assistance to promote and assist with countries’ successful implementation of the SDGs.
During the awards, the Commonwealth shared its unique SDG implementation toolkit which provides practical guidance on how member countries can effectively plan, track and coordinate SDG implementation within their government more effectively and strategically.
Commonwealth director for Economic, Youth and Sustainable Development, Prajapati Trivedi, said: “We are pleased delegates were very receptive to the Commonwealth SDG implementation toolkit.
“There was positive feedback from delegates and they were excited to see how this toolkit could be put into use.”