European Union External Action

EU Ambassador Andrew Jacobs’ speech at the SDG 16+ Forum’s reception

Dili, 03/12/2019 - 03:39, UNIQUE ID: 191203_1
Speeches of the Ambassador

SDG 16+ Forum annual showcase took place in Timor-Leste from 11 to 14 November 2019

Read the speech of Ambassador Andrew Jacobs:            

Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ambassadors, Distinguished representatives of the UN Agencies, representatives of International Organisations, colleagues and friends from civil society, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Bemvindu!

I welcome you to tonight’s reception hosted by the European Union and France (represented in Timor-Leste by the French Institute) on the occasion of the SDG 16+ Forum Timor-Leste annual showcase.

The venue for tonight's reception, the Museum of National Resistance, is an appropriate and poignant choice.  On 12 November 1991 more than 250 young Timorese people lost their lives when they were ruthlessly gunned down in Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, and this museum commemorates both this tragic event and Timor-Leste's resistance struggle.

Today all of Timor-Leste remembers and honours those who died on this day in 1991, and they are surely in the thoughts of all of us present here this evening. Today is National Youth Day, when Timor-Leste both commemorates the massacre and at the same time recognises and celebrates the bravery, resilience, and enthusiasm of Timorese young people.  Today is therefore a very sombre occasion but it is also a day of hope and of confidence in the future.

It is such confidence in the future that has driven Timor-Leste during the twenty years since the UN-administered popular consultation that led to the re-establishment of the democratic Republic of Timor-Leste as an independent state. 

There have been challenges and many bumps in the road, and there will undoubtedly be more, but Timor-Leste's achievements since independence have been huge and I take this opportunity, on behalf of the European Union, to pay tribute to the leaders and people of the country.  The European Union has been honoured to be a close partner during Timor-Leste's journey, to provide support where needed, and we will continue to do so.

We are particularly proud of our work with Timor-Leste on Public Finance Management, through both budget support and technical assistance provided by Instituto Camoes. We are also pleased at the results of our work in agro-forestry, with a major programme implemented by GIZ that is doing a great job in economic diversification, and our work in nutrition, both through budget support and with UNICEF. We are looking forward to starting a major new programme in decentralisation which will help to build stronger institutions around the country and improve public service delivery. 

I also look forward to the start of the major new Spotlight Initiative, an EU-UN partnership that focuses on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.  And we have very many smaller initiatives that are also achieving good results, supporting for example the establishment of a Human Rights Centre at the National University.   We have a wide range of projects with civil society that I will not list here.

But while the EU and many other countries and organisations here have supported, and are supporting, this country in its development, this is not a one way street.  We have a great deal to learn from Timor-Leste.   Timor-Leste today is built on a unique and compelling narrative of reconciliation and peace, and has much to share.  

It is thus wholly appropriate that Timor-Leste is our host for this year's SDG 16+ Annual Showcase, which has as its themes peaceful, just, and inclusive societies, and in particular reconciliation, inclusion, and strong institutions. Strong institutions mean good governance and the rule of law which are at the core of sustainable development and long-term peace and stability.

Timor-Leste has indeed proved itself a leader on SDG 16+, with much to share on reconciling with the past while building the future, and on what it takes to advance the societies we all wish for, characterised by peace, justice, the rule of law, and inclusion.

Still one of the youngest countries in the world, and with ambitions to become a middle-income country by 2030, Timor-Leste works to promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies nationally and internationally. As a global champion of SDG 16 and one of the initial advocates for SDG 16 as a standalone goal, Timor-Leste is indeed a very suitable host for our discussions this week.

These are discussions which need to be as inclusive as the societies we want to see, involving all stakeholders, including, very importantly representatives of civil society.

With just eleven years left to complete the 2030 Agenda and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, this Showcase, taking place following the SDG Summit under the auspices of the General Assembly in September, provides an important opportunity to further energise the implementation of SDG 16, in order to reach the ultimate aspiration of ‘leaving no one behind’. I am very much looking forward to the conference discussions over the next two days.

Thank you very much.

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