Jokowi to hold regular discussions with civil society groups

Jokowi to hold regular discussions with civil society groups
Joko Widodo.
PHOTO: Reuters

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has proposed regular discussions with civil society groups in an effort to achieve wider public participation in reaching targets set out in the United Nations' global development agenda called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Jokowi's commitment follows a meeting between him and 12 representatives of civil society groups and NGOs, which was held at the State Palace last Thursday upon their request.

"What is interesting is that the President has proposed to hold a forum every three months to discuss the progress [the country has made] related to the SDGs," Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) executive director Abetnego Tarigan told a press conference last Thursday at the palace. "It means that the President opens room for us [civil society organisations] to regularly provide input."

Aside from Abetnego, International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) executive director Sugeng Bahagijo, Ilham Saenong from Transparency International Indonesia (TII), Dian Kartika Sari of the Indonesian Women Coalition (KPI), Hesti Murti of the Independent Journalists Association (AJI), Ah Maftuchan of the Center for Welfare Studies (Prakarsa) and Wahyu Susilo of Migrant Care also joined last week's meeting with Jokowi.

Adopted by all 193 UN member states in September, the SDGs are a global development plan comprising 17 goals to end poverty, reduce inequality and tackle climate change by 2030.

Starting next year, the SDGs, which outline 169 more specific targets, replace the previous UN action plan, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The implementation of the new goals will be monitored and reviewed using a set of global indicators to be agreed by March 2016.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who led the Indonesian delegation to the UN's September meeting in New York, has said that the country's development agenda would be more inclusive of civil society.

Kalla has also said the SDGs would be integrated into the National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJM), revealing that he had asked ministries and related institutions to change the nature of their development planning paradigms from a remedial to a preventative approach. According to Kalla, he would assign the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) as the coordinating body for the implementation of the cross-sectoral SDGs.

Sugeng said the groups proposed to Jokowi three keys to ensure the country's development programs were in line with the SDGs.

"A legal framework as a guideline for implementing the SDGs should be issued immediately; a joint committee comprising representatives from ministries, government agencies and civil society should be established immediately, and an action plan must also be drafted immediately to ensure the SDGs can be implemented in the coming years," Sugeng added.

Indonesia has failed to meet four of the eight MDGs signed by UN members in 2000: Reducing maternal mortality rates, lowering the numbers of HIV-infections, ensuring environmental sustainability and providing access to clean water and good sanitation.

Indonesia's maternal mortality rate rose from 227 per 100,000 live births to 359 between 2007 and 2012, an increase partly blamed on a lack of funding and health care services across the archipelago. Meanwhile, the number of people living with HIV increased from 7,195 cases in 2006 to 32,711 in 2014.

AIDS cases increased from 3,692 to 5,494 in the same period.

At the meeting with Jokowi, Dian stressed the importance of adopting a gender approach in development programs, arguing that 104 of 169 SDGs targets were related to gender equality.

"Among targets needed to be given special attention are maternal and infant mortality as well as the latest issue of child marriage," she said.

The Constitutional Court has rejected a judicial review filed by women and children rights campaigners who had sought to increase the minimum marriage age for women set by the Marriage Law from 16 to 18 years.

The groups also pushed the government to improve human development and increase social expenditure and expressed concern over unemployment, human trafficking and police violence against journalists.

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