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Leaving No One Behind: ASEAN 50th birthday symposium to highlight strategies and opportunities to improve lives across region

BANGKOK, 28th September 2017 - Senior officials from ASEAN Member States and regional experts will this week look at how to boost progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the ASEAN-UNICEF Symposium on “Leaving No One Behind”, in commemoration of ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary. The event, hosted by the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, Thailand on 28-29th September in Bangkok, will highlight the importance of investing in data and improving public finances to secure future prosperities for all.

“The Government of Thailand is proud to host this event 50 years after ASEAN was established here in Bangkok,” said Police General Adul Sangsingkeo, Minister of Social Development and Human Security. “Since then we have seen rapid growth in ASEAN countries. This meeting will help chart a course to ensure that the member states continue to develop further while no one is left behind.”

The vast majority of investments in social services for children and their families in ASEAN member states are funded by national governments. Therefore, how these funds are prioritised to support those most in need is crucial in realising the SDGs as well as the ASEAN Vision 2025.

In the Philippines, the government has made significant investments in social services for children and their families.  This includes the large-scale Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program (4Ps), a conditional cash transfer program that seeks to improve the human development outcomes for around 4.4 million poor households with more than 10 million children beneficiaries. Despite the increasing investments in other social services, deprivations continue to persist particularly for children and their families in geographically isolated areas and vulnerable groups such as indigenous children and children with disabilities.

“Promoting complementarities between the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals is high on the agenda of ASEAN,” said Mr. Lê Lương Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN. “The building of a people-centered and people-oriented ASEAN Community, with a focus on children, leverages on and complements the 17 goals of the SDGs while the achievement of the SDGs reinforces regional integration process in ASEAN.”

At the event, UNICEF will be guiding interactive discussions on how investing in children and families yields high returns both for individuals and for societies. UNICEF will highlight the need to continue investing in data in supporting the realisation of the goals. Increased investment in data will enable countries to have a better understandings on development gaps and where investments can be channeled to assist those in need.

“Investing in children and young people is central to achieving all aspects of sustainable development and ASEAN 2025,” said Ms. Wivina Belmonte, Deputy Director at UNICEF East Asia and Pacific. “This vision for a better future can only be achieved if we carefully measure our progress by investing time and resources into collecting quality data, to contribute to better policy choices. A UNICEF study released earlier this year showed that, for over half of child related SDG indicators, availability of data is either limited or poor. It’s not that data isn’t being collected, it’s that the universal nature of the SDGs and Vision 2025 calls for disaggregated data to make sure that in leaving no one behind, all children are counted and that all children count.”

In the Philippines, there are significant challenges in collecting, collating and analyzing data on children. For example, there is dearth of data on vulnerable children including indigenous children, children with disabilities, children displaced due to emergencies, and reporting mechanisms on incidents of violence against children. There is also significant data gaps on young and adolescent children that could inform focused policy planning to aid their growth and development.

“Lack of data on children inhibits any effective equity analysis and targeted policy and programme development towards the most deprived and disadvantaged. Not having comprehensive data allows for continued discrimination and lack of service delivery,” says UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander.

A study, which provides comprehensive assessment of the impact of ASEAN integration on child rights, will also be launched by UNICEF on the second day of the event. The study offers insights into opportunities and risks stemming from the integration and puts forward recommendations on how opportunities can be expanded for future generations.

A series of engaging sessions will be taking place over the two days to focus on issues pertinent to the development and wellbeing of children across the region, such as social protection, ending violence against women and children, human trafficking, health, nutrition, as well as water and sanitation, education, and sustainable environments.



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