Community key in achieving sustainable development

Muscat, July 23 – The Sultanate presented the first voluntary national report at the recently held high-level political forum of the UN Economic and Social Council on the progress as well as successes, challenges and lessons learned on road to Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). This year, the theme of the forum was “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

Broad community engagement
Based on the participatory approach, the Supreme Planning Council prepared the voluntary national report to monitor the progress in achieving the sustainable development goals. It formed National Committee in order to achieve Sustainable Development goals chaired by Talal al Rahbi, Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Planning Council. The committee was comprised of members and representatives of all development partners in various ministries and government agencies, Council of Oman, and representatives from the private sector and civil society institutions. As part of the broad community engagement, the Supreme Council of Planning conducted workshops with representatives of stakeholders, civil society organisations and citizens with expertise and competence, in addition to engaging Omani youth to know their aspirations and priorities, and launching a broad community dialogue that will deepen community engagement in discussing and exchanging views on the raised issues.

Four routes to achieve the sustainable development
Equality, justice, peace and participation hold key to Oman’s sustainable development policy. This is clearly reflected in the statutes of the State and His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’s speeches, which have always served as a governing framework for all strategies and development plans in the Sultanate. The first voluntary national review of the Sultanate identifies four key routes to achieve the sustainable development goals. These four routes are citizens’ empowerment to ensure that no one is left behind, building a competitive knowledge economy, promoting environmental resilience and peace. In order to implement the goals of the sustainable development plan, the Sultanate supports three main mechanisms: financing efficiency, local sustainable development, monitoring and evaluation.

Knowledge-based economy
Building a competitive knowledge-based economy comes at the forefront of Oman’s plans and strategies to achieve sustainable development goals. The government has implemented many policies to strengthen the contribution of non-oil sectors to GDP. The Sultanate also exerts great efforts to enhance readiness and preparedness to keep pace with the rapid developments of the technologies like the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to devote them to achieve the sustainable development goals in general and create new jobs.

Empowerment
Oman believes that development is not an end in itself. The ultimate beneficiary of the development must be the citizens. Citizens’ empowerment is achieved through investment in education and raising the quality of life by setting up schools, universities, hospitals, municipal services, power stations, water and sanitation, telecommunications, roads, ports and airports across the country. Women are one of the pillars of development. Women empowerment programmers enhance capacities and ensure that they have access to their rights. The law guarantees women’s right to equal employment opportunities whether in the governmental and private sector. The Sultanate also seeks to establish the role of youth as a genuine partner in shaping the future, ensuring that people with disabilities are integrated into the development process by creating an enabling environment for them and providing opportunities for their active participation in all aspects of life.

Implementation mechanisms
The Sultanate of Oman’s implementation of the SDG goals is based on three mechanisms. Funding is one of the important challenges that countries face in achieving their development goals. This led the Sultanate to begin the shift towards the implementation of budgets, programmes plans and performance, which determines the direct relationship between national priorities and budgets that must dedicated to its implementation. The quality of budget allocation is as important as provision of funds.
The second mechanism is local sustainable development. The Sultanate strongly believes that achieving the sustainable development goals is contingent on strengthening the role of governorates and the local communities at all stages of the development process, from the preparation of strategies and plans to the implementation and monitoring stages and different evaluations. From this stand-point, the current ninth five-year plan and previous plans have paid special attention to the development of local communities, with the goal of achieving balanced growth between development, conservation of natural resources and heritage.
The “All Oman” initiative is perhaps the most prominent initiative in promoting the role of provinces and local communities in the process of preparing and formulating Oman 2040 vision.
The Third Mechanism is monitoring and evaluation. Oman has developed a system for monitoring and evaluating the indicators of the sustainable development goals, and a methodology has been developed to evaluate the progress in this field.
The Sultanate has also begun to build an integrated electronically linked statistical information system, and plans have been made to implement censuses and field surveys to provide the required indicators until 2030. A central information dashboard has been designed to measure sustainable development goals indicators.
The report also assured the Oman is moving confidently moving to achieve the sustainable development goals reinforced by broad community participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of plans, policies and programmes to meet the challenges and achieve the desired goals.
A short video was also presented during the high-level political forum following a speech by Dr Ali al Sunaidy, Minister of Trade and Industry, deputy chairman of the Supreme Council for Planning. It featured progress in achieving the sustainable development goals since the beginning of the Blessed Renaissance, which emphasises that development is not an end in itself and is based on firm rules based on equality and the rule of law.

Peace
The Sultanate seeks to promote peace and stability among nations and peoples to ensure better future, harmony and order. To this end, the Sultanate has advocated dialogue for solving global problems in various regional and international forums. The Sultanate has been pushing for an inclusive society, where people are free to practice their own beliefs and principles and everyone has equal opportunities to build a bright life.

Environmental resilience
The Sultanate continues to implement strategies to mitigate climate change and global warming.The Sultanate is also putting in efforts to sustain the fisheries sector, preserve the marine environment, deal with water scarcity and desertification, flood protection, energy security, food security among other things.