The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the Arab Republic of Egypt and Permanent Representative to the League of Arab States, Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, assured that the Kingdom of Bahrain had presented its first voluntary national report to the High-Level Political Forum in July 2018, which reviewed the achievements of the Kingdom in the field of sustainable development and the efforts made to achieve them under the leadership of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The Ambassador also expressed his pleasure participate in the Arab Sustainable Development Week, highlighting in this regard the Kingdom of Bahrain's pursuit of development.
This came during the participation of the Ambassador in the session entitled: “Arab countries and the implementation of sustainable development goals in an ever changing world”, which was held within the activities of the the Arab Sustainable Development Week in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
In his speech, the Ambassador stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain has been able to achieve the first objective of sustainable development, which is to eradicate poverty as well as the second and third goal, during the past ten years. He also noted that the current government is building five new and modern cities to provide more housing opportunities for citizens, highlighting the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the initiative of His Royal Highness the Prime Minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, to declare April 5 as the International Day of Conscience, in a move that enhances cultural peace to achieve SDGs.
The Bahrain Ambassador stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain anticipated in advance the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through the establishment of the necessary institutional arrangements, namely the establishment of the National Committee for Information and Population headed by the Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the membership of relevant authorities.
He pointed out that the Committee has taken on the task of following up, localizing and implementing the SDGs through government programs in partnership with the private sector, civil society and academic bodies.
He further explained that the current government program 2019-2022 includes general objectives that intersect with the main areas of the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve them by promoting the basic constants of the State and society, financial sustainability and economic development, in addition to securing a supportive environment for sustainable development.
Concerning the Kingdom's achievements, the Ambassador detailed that the Kingdom of Bahrain was able to surpass the first goal of eradicating extreme poverty through economic growth and raising the average family income by 47% during the past ten years, noting that all citizens in the Kingdom enjoy good health care and access to free treatment and medicines, and access to all immunizations and vaccinations necessary for children, which led to a decrease in maternal mortality, low mortality of children below the global levels, and low incidence of infectious diseases and premature deaths, as well as life expectancy at birth has risen to around 77 years.
The Ambassador showcased how one of the most important goals of sustainable development in the Kingdom is that basic education is free and compulsory, and the illiteracy rate is only 2.5%. With regard to the provision of adequate housing, the Constitution stipulates that “the State shall endeavour to provide housing for low-income citizens”. Thus, under the Constitution, the Government is implementing five new housing cities equipped with modern infrastructure and facilities to the best international standards, consequently providing adequate housing for more than 36,000 Bahraini families of low income groups.
With regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women, the Ambassador noted that the Kingdom of Bahrain has a rich experience in this field, which began nearly 100 years ago with the participation of women in the political process, which is established by the Constitution and the Supreme Council for Women, headed by Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa to ensure equality and establish the rules of justice and equality of opportunity in a real and lasting partnership.
With regard to the provision of decent work, Bahrain has adopted an active policy to increase the quality of job opportunities, which contributed to the decline in the unemployment rate to about 4% during the past ten years, and the Labour Market Regulatory Authority was established to strengthen the legal and regulatory environment that guarantees the rights of expatriate workers and employers.
The Ambassador stressed that the Kingdom of Bahrain has taken urgent measures to combat climate change and its effects, which is the thirteenth goal of sustainable development in the Kingdom, noting the efforts made to protect and preserve the environment and natural resources, as the Kingdom of Bahrain seeks to ensure the sustainability of the development process in all fields in accordance with its Constitution and the National Action Charter, by achieving a balance between environmental protection and the requirements of economic and social development.
He pointed out that the Kingdom of Bahrain has established many institutions, governmental bodies and committees with a view to formulating programs, policies and strategies to achieve sustainable development.
He highlighted that the implementation of these goals requires the expansion of local and global partnerships in all areas, pointing to the framework of the strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Nations organizations including the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
The Ambassador stressed that the 17 Sustainable Development Goals 2030 is a global call for action to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity, noting that it has been formulated on five important components: human, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership. He added that the Arab International Center for Entrepreneurship & Investment Training was established in 2001, through which it set out mechanisms and axes of the program of enterprise development and investment incentives, known internationally.
The Ambassador further stressed that the Bahraini model of entrepreneurship is now applied 52 countries around the world through partnerships with a number of development banks.
The Head of United Nations Industrial Development Organization – Investment and Technology Promotion Office (UNIDO-ITPO), Dr. Hashim S. Hussein, outlined the most pivotal achievements made in the Kingdom of Bahrain in achieving the goals of sustainable development and innovation and encouraging creativity and cooperation with local, regional and international partners.