Thanks to the statistics by the United Nations, we now know that about one in five persons in developing countries live on less than $1.25 per day; that water scarcity, poor water equality and drought afflict many parts of the world’s poorest regions; and that climate change is affecting lives and threatening communities at an unprecedented rate more than ever today. And even more tomorrow.
Against this backdrop, a gathering of two GIZ Sector Networks (SNs) in Asia recently took place in Bangkok to strategically plan and pool resources at hand in a concerted manner. With this in mind, we have realized that both science and economics are right—that our current path is unsustainable.
Cross-Sectoral Joint Conference of TUEWAS and SNRD Asia
The two networks are part of GIZ’s knowledge management initiatives in Asia working to enhance the positioning of the technical capacities and expertise of German Development Cooperation in the region through sharing of expertise and networking. The conference was organized in response to the groundbreaking adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by head of states and the realization that Sector Networks have so much to contribute toward achieving the global 2030 Agenda. Over the course of the five-day conference, strong support and commitment were consolidated from both GIZ headquarters and experts working in the field. At the same time, the conference responded to the call for “SDG Champions” of the GIZ Sustainability Office.
The first time ever-SN conference of TUEWAS (Transport, Environment, Energy and Water) and SNRD Asia (Sector Network Natural Resources and Rural Development Asia) brought together more than 250 participants from 17 countries in Asia. Hailed as a significant milestone in bringing the Agenda 2030 aspirations to actions, the conference has led to a unanimous call for setting up a task force to work on the SDGs.
Graced by high-level attendance of representatives of UNESCAP; Mr. Michael Williamson, Senior Advisor, Office of the Executive Secretary; German Embassy in Bangkok; HE. Peter Prügel, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Thailand; GIZ Division and Department Heads; Dr. Sabine Müller, Director General Sectoral Department, Dr. Petra Mutlu, Director of Regional Department Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and Mr. Lorenz Petersen, Director of Climate, Rural Development and Infrastructure Department; the conference discussed how to create development policy as a plan of action “for people, planet and prosperity”.
The cross-boundary platform has allowed for networking and exchange of knowhow across different Working Groups, between national and international staff and people of different generations. We have employed various conference formats and set-ups such as a fire place talk to encourage staff interaction with GIZ management, a Gallery Walk as a space to showcase the work of 14 Working Groups (WGs), intensive working-in-group sessions up to ten parallel open spaces, wide-ranging thematic workshops which were selected and prepared by the participants themselves, a panel discussion, social event, among many others.
Well received by the majority of those who attended, the conference has proven that face-to-face meeting between members is still essential. To illustrate, the direct interaction and knowledge exchange among members has generated such positive energy and has led to the revival of the CCA WG, the upgrading of the TF Green Educations to a WG, developing of new virtual communities (ICT) and remarkably the initiation to develop a new Task Force on SDG.
In concluding the forum, Mr. Berthold Schirm, Spokesperson of SNRD Asia, stated,
“I want to thank all of you for your active participation, your various valuable contributions making the conference a success and a big thanks to our colleagues from the TUEWAS network and to all the organizers and supporters for their efficient and smooth way the conference was organized and conducted.”
As the meeting came to a close, we hope that the participants took back with them renewed energy and meaningful takeaways. Amidst the myriads of challenges and crises facing the world today, this is indeed a small step in our pursuit of genuine sustainable development for the coming 15 years.