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Laos launches SDG 18 to Make Lives Safe From UXO

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Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday inaugurated the Lao PDR’s own national Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on unexploded ordnance (UXO) during the ongoing ASEAN Summits.The SDGs have been drawn up by the United Nations as targets for developing countries.

Goal No. 18, which relates specifically to Laos, is Lives safe from UXO; remove the UXO obstacle to national development.

The logo shows, on a red background, a disabled person walking away from cluster munitions on a crutch, towards an empowered, self-reliant future.

At the SDG 18 launch yesterday, which was attended by high-ranking Lao officials and the UN Resident Coordinator, representatives of UN agencies and donor representatives, a renewed commitment was expressed for a future safe from UXO in the Lao PDR, and for dignified lives for all UXO survivors, many of whom have life-long needs.

Speaking at the event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said More than half of the casualties caused by UXO in the Lao PDR in recent years have been children, most often young boys.

With SDG 18, we aim to put an end to this horrible trend, once and for all. The socio-economic impact of UXO contamination means that people lack confidence in the safety of their land, which in turn has negative impacts on the income of rural farmers and their families and inhibits the development of the whole country.

I welcome the government’s commitment to free its people from UXO, with a powerful tool like a national SDG which will make sure efforts are coordinated for full impact, he said. Ban Ki-moon added that with the implementation of the SDGs, the United Nations is delivering on its promise to leave no one behind. He acknowledged the support of national institutions, development partners and civil society organisations, which are all crucial for the implementation of the SDGs in the Lao PDR.

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith stressed the ambitious targets that come with SDG18, saying Our government, through SDG 18, will make sure that UXO is cleared to the extent possible by 2030, in high-risk areas, which are often the poorest areas of the country.

We will also focus on ensuring that all survivors receive the support they need to lead dignified lives. For us to be successful we rely on a joint effort, he added. As a first step in implementing SDG 18, the Lao government is planning to carry out a comprehensive national survey of UXO contamination, which will help to target clearance work in high-risk areas and reduce the number of casualties.

SDG 18 is the newest addition to a set of 17 globally agreed goals which form the core of a new sustainable development agenda that came into effect at the beginning of the year, according to press release from the United Nations in the Lao PDR. The Lao PDR, together with all other 192 UN member states, endorsed the SDGs at the General Assembly in New York in September 2015 and has since made inroads in incorporating them into national plans and policies.

The SDGs aim to end poverty, fight injustice and inequality and tackle climate change by 2030, thus advancing the globe onto a sustainable development path. The Lao PDR decided to further address its legacy from the Indochina War (1964-1973) by creating its own SDG on UXO, whose targets aim to reduce casualties, address the needs of victims and clear the country in a way that most benefits the poorest parts of the population, the UN press release reported.

The Lao PDR has also been a leading advocate for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international agreement which entered into force in 2010, obliging State Parties to clear contaminated areas, destroy stockpiles and provide assistance to victims of cluster munitions accidents.

 

Source: Vientiane Times