Madam President, Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset Madam President, let me express our gratitude to you and your team for the excellent organization of the High-level Political Forum on Agenda 2030. Bosnia and Herzegovina presented its first Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals, describing the process of the so far implementation of this very ambitious decision made by the Summit of Heads of States/Governments in September 2015.
The preparatory process for this comprehensive report has served as an impetus to the engagement of many stakeholders besides our governments at all levels. The private sector has been especially active in incorporating SDGs into their respective enterprises internal policies. Academia and civil societyorganizations have been also involved in vast consultations since the Agenda discussion was launched in our country. During the process of writing the VNR, the Working Group on SDGs, established two and a half years ago from the institutions at the state, entity and Brcko District level, has finalized activities on defining SDG framework. After adopting this very important document Bosnia and Herzegovina’s institutions will have before them a long term multi-sectoral approach for the next decade development, incorporating economic, social and environmental issues. It is seen as a precondition for aligning budgets at various levels of government with SDGs, paving the way for better financing for development. Besides that, it makes an opportunity to engage international funds and other domestic and foreign stakeholders, and to improve public-private partnership.
Current economic situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is improving steadily with a yearly GDP growth rates around 3,5 %. Much more needs to be done if we want to achieve our main aim to shrink the gap between Bosnian and developed EU economies. The EU membership is a main strategic goal of Bosnia and Herzegovinaagreed by all political actors in the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina expects to achieve a candidature status for EU membership as soon as next year, which will be another prove that our societies have made a significant progress in many aspects. In following months and years we expect robust investments in infrastructure with EU assistance and of some other bilateral and multilateral partners. In that connection, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for Chinese participation in many infrastructural projects in my country under the program Belt and Road Initiative.
Let me also emphasize the importance of regional cooperation where Bosnia and Herzegovina is very active through the South East Europe Cooperation Process, the Western Balkan Fund,Central European Initiative etc. I will mention here as an example of good practice the construction of Sarajevo-Belgrade highway in cooperation among Serbia, Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the agreement for roaming prices within the Western Balkan region to be lowered and ultimately abolished in 2021.
Now I would like to say a few words about one of the main challenges we are facing today in the region which could jeopardize many achievements in our societies in economic and social term. It is an exodus of young and middle aged skillful and educated people who are leaving the country to the more prosperous mostly European economies. This phenomenon which is accelerating recently may deeply influence our future development. The issue has to be urgently tackled at the regional level in order to at least slowdown the process before reversing it.
In conclusion, let me express our gratitude to the UN country team in Bosnia and Herzegovina for its outstanding contribution and tireless efforts in assisting our institutions on development agenda. The UN experts have contributed enormously to the process of monitoring, evaluating and reporting the progress in the implementation of sustainable development goals agenda.
I thank you Madam President.