Belgrade, 13-14 October 2018 – Representatives of the governments of the subregional countries (Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania and Romania), the private sector, international financial institutions and development partners met in Belgrade at a two-day conference devoted to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Western Balkan countries and its connection with EU accession. During the conference, held in the Palace of Serbia and organized by the Government of the Republic of Serbia, there was a special focus on social inclusion and sustainable development, the promotion of market economy, potential sources of financing, as well as the role of the civil sector in implementing and monitoring Agenda 2030.

In her opening remarks, the Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, pointed out: “The Agenda 2030 calls for the common eradication of poverty, protecting the planet that is our home, and making sure that all people can enjoy peace and prosperity individually.  Poverty reduction, quality education, decent work, healthy living, economy, institutional strengthening – these are some of the most important goals of sustainable development”.

She also noted that “…we have to admit that these tendencies can seem utopian, but that should not stop us from trying to do our best, and step-by-step, we are moving towards a society in which no one will be forgotten and excluded from the universal social progress”.

She pointed out that this is exactly the main principle of Agenda 2030 – “Leaving no one Behind”, “…no one stays behind, at the end of the line”.  “The core of the goals are human rights, reduction of inequality and promotion of inclusive societies,” Brnabić said.

Serbia was among the first countries to set up a body for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as early as December 2015.  According to professor Dr. Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, Minister without Portfolio in charge of Demography and Population Policy and the President of the Inter-Agency Working Group for the Implementation of the Agenda 2030 in the Republic of Serbia, this Agenda is an essential component of global efforts towards positive transformation of the modern world.  “We see a subregional conference as an opportunity to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences so that countries in this region can accelerate their development progress.  The partnership and cooperation of the entire international community, at various levels, and especially regional and subregional, is seen as a prerequisite for the Sustainable Development Agenda to be implemented in a comprehensive manner in all its dimensions – economic, social and environmental.”

“Progress towards achieving the goals of sustainable development contained in Agenda 2030 and EU integration are inseparable”, said Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Serbia, Sam Fabrici, adding that these two processes are part of the same reforms that each country should implement for itself.  “All EU Member States have committed themselves to achieving the goals of sustainable development, so it is logical that countries that want to become members should invest their time, efforts, financial resources and expertise to achieve these goals.  EU support to Serbia, through two IPA funds, is functioning in double capacity: through the promotion of reforms necessary for future EU membership, and the promotion of sustainable development in line with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”

The UN Agenda for Sustainable Development by 2030 was adopted by more than 150 countries in September 2015 at the UN headquarters in New York.  The Agenda includes such key elements as: economic growth, social inclusion, environmental protection, institutional development and cooperation.  The 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are integrated in the Agenda represent a universal call to action to address global challenges, end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that everyone enjoys peace and prosperity. The 17 goals contain 169 targets to be achieved by 2030.