Muscat: In the context of Oman’s participation in the High-Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York, the Sultanate reviewed the first voluntary national report, which member states seek to make regular and comprehensive reviews of progress at national and local levels as a part of the Sustainable Development Plan follow-up mechanisms.
These reviews are presented within the high-level political forum of the UN Economic and Social Council in order to monitor the obtained progress as well as successes, challenges and lessons learned in respect of achieving Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).
The political formula was held this year on the theme of “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.
Broad community engagement
Based on the participatory approach, the Supreme Planning Council was cared to prepare the voluntary national report to monitor the obtained progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, it was also important to confirm the importance of involving different stakeholders, where the formation of the National Committee came in order to achieve Sustainable Development goals, and it was chaired by H.E. Talal Al Rahbi the Deputy Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Planning. In addition to the presence of members and representatives of all development partners in various ministries and government agencies, Omani Council and representatives from the private sector and civil society institutions.
As the Supreme Council for Planning firmly believes in the importance of broad community engagement in sustainable development goals and plans. This engagement can be clearly achieved through making 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 SDGs
The goals and objectives of the Sustainable Development Plan are a natural extension of the values and principles of sustainability, equality, justice, peace and participation and ensuring that no one is left behind are deeply rooted values in Omani society since its inception till now. This can be clearly reflected in the statutes of the State and in the speeches of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, May God Bless him, which has always served as a governing framework for all strategies, plans and development programmes in the Sultanate.
The first voluntary national review of the Sultanate addressed the progress obtained in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to achieve those goals in addition to initiatives, programmers, projects and future plans to achieve those objectives, focusing on four key routes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. These four routes are: Human Empowering in order to ensure that no one is left behind, building a competitive knowledge economy, promoting environmental resilience and peace is a pillar of sustainability. 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.
With regard to the routes of achieving Sustainable Development Goals, Human Empowering comes as a fundamental route in order to ensure that no one is left behind, as Oman believes that development is not an end in itself but it’s for the sake of building human. This begins at the stage of formulating future visions and economic diversification programmes as it enjoys a broad community engagement and takes into account community priorities, while the benefit of development programmes will touch everyone. This is evident in the continued investment in the Sultanate in the fields of education and raising the quality of life for individuals through the spread of schools, universities, medical centres, hospitals, municipal services, power stations, water and sanitation, telecommunications, roads, ports and airports across the country.
Women are one of the pillars of development and can be regarded as principal partner in it; this can be seen through women empowerment programmers, enhance their capacities and ensure that they have access to their rights. The law guarantees women’s right to equal employment opportunities, recruitment procedures, promotion, salaries and wages, whether in the governmental and private sector. In this context, 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.
Competitive 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 Sultanate understands the major economic transformations and is preparing for it by providing a sustainable infrastructure based on innovation to launch promising sectors, which contributes in building a solid foundation based on knowledge-based diversification and innovation, and expanding production and export base as well as deepening investment in high value-added sectors, Strengthening the contribution of non-oil sectors to GDP and to shift to Competitive Knowledge-based Economy. The Sultanate also exerts great efforts to enhance readiness and preparedness to keep pace with the rapid developments of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and to devote them to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in general, and to create new jobs in economic projects in particular to accommodate new entrants to the labour market.
With regard to the third routes which are enhancing environmental resilience, the Sultanate is one of the first countries to make efforts on all issues related to the environment and climate affairs, as well as the implementation of our international obligations and risk management in this context. The Sultanate continues to implement the National Adaptation Strategy and mitigate climate change to counter the negative effects of global warming, in order to support international solidarity to address the problem of climate change and its negative effects. Where the Sultanate is not fare from the global climate change. Its geographical location close to the seas and oceans has made it more clearly affected by climate change than other countries in the region. Therefore, the Sultanate is keen to make efforts to adapt in various fields, such as tropical cyclones, coastal erosion and sea-level rise. The Sultanate also exerting efforts to sustain the fisheries sector, preserve the marine environment, deal with water scarcity and desertification, flood protection, energy security, food security and others.
Peace is the fundamental pillar of sustainability
Concerning the fourth route of “Peace is the fundamental pillar of sustainability”, Sultanate seeks to reinforce peace values and the mutual learning among nations and peoples as fundamental pillars which achieve the stability all over the world that is a springboard for a better future for next generations, and for communities lasting harmony and order.
To this end, the Sultanate called for solving global problems through dialogue and peaceful ways through its long-standing Omani diplomacy in various regional and international forums. The Sultanate has been able to spread and promote shared human values and reach to an inclusive society, whose members are free to practice their own beliefs and principles, is a society in which everyone has equal opportunities to build a decent life.
The Sultanate of Oman’s implementation of the SDG goals is based on three mechanisms in the short and medium term as follows:
The First Mechanism is the efficiency of funding, and the provision of funding is one of the important challenges that countries face in achieving their development goals, and 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, it provides a seamless tool for implementation and performance monitoring. The quality of budget allocation is just as important as providing funding,
For the Second Mechanism which is local sustainable development, the Sultanate of Oman strongly believes that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is contingent on strengthening the role of provinces 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 the material and moral human heritage, and achieving similar levels among the provinces in the areas of services, infrastructure development and utilities.
The “All Oman” initiative is perhaps the most prominent initiative in promoting the role of provinces and local communities, as one of the priorities of development in the Sultanate, as one of the key communication initiatives designed to promote participatory approaches in the process of preparing and formulating the vision for the future Oman 2040”.
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 obtained progress in this field, ensuring that targets are verified and the decision-maker is provided with targeted and achieved implementation rates.
The Sultanate has also begun to build an integrated electronically linked and continuously updated 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 The Sustainable Development Goals indicators, with approximately (100) indicators measured at the national level so far. The results of the measurement clarified the positive progress of the Sultanate in many indicators.
The report also assured the Oman’s commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in its three economic, social and environmental dimensions in the specified timeline, and that, in general, despite challenges that cannot be underestimated, it is moving in a confident direction to achieve those goals, taking advantage of the balance of its external relations, which it has and its Arab, regional and international surroundings, is 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 His Excellency Dr. Ali Al-Sunaidi, Minister of Trade and Industry, Vice President of the Supreme Council for Planning, which comes to monitor progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and presents the ideology of sustainability in the Sultanate, which established since the beginning of the Blessed Renaissance, which emphasises that development is not an end in itself, but is for the building of the human who is its tool and maker, and is based on firm rules based on citizenship, equality and the rule of law and the adoption of the spirit of the times through development plans and programmes, and upgrading life levels through the development of education, health and social services, economic and environmental sectors, supporting the values of peace, coexistence, dialogue and acceptance of others, close cooperation with other nations and peoples, and adherence to the principles of truth, justice and equality.