NEW YORK, JULY 18 – “For the last 30 years, the CEI (Central European Initiative) has helped to create an enabling environment for convergence on common standards of sustainable development”, said Ambassador Mariangela Zappia. “As such, it is becoming a natural partner of the UN”.
This was one of the main points of the statement delivered on July 18, 2019, by Ambassador Zappia, Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development Side-Event on “The contribution of regional cooperation and partnerships to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: the experience of the Central European Initiative (CEI)”.
The following is the full text of Ambassador Zappia’s Statement.
Excellences, dear colleagues,
I am delighted to open this panel discussion on the contribution of regional cooperation and partnerships to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda: the experience of the Central European Initiative (CEI). My special thanks to Ambassador of Croatia Drobnjak and the Ambassador of Montenegro Pejanovic-Djurisic for co-hosting with Secretary-General Antonione and me, and to Assistant Secretary-General Jenca and Spatolisano for being with us.
This event has a symbolic meaning for Italy: as a founder and current President of the Central European Initiative (CEI), Italy is honored to host the first-ever event to bring the Initiative’s experience to the United Nations. Reinforcing CEI’s role in major international organizations – first and foremost the UN – is among the priorities of our Presidency and was endorsed by the CEI Foreign Ministers in the Declaration adopted on 12 June in Trieste. The continuity of our commitment to enhance CEI’s international role is attested to by the co-sponsorship of this event by the former and future holders of the Presidency, Croatia (2018) and Montenegro (2020).
This year the CEI is celebrating its 30th anniversary: established in 1989 in the aftermath of the fall of the “Iron curtain”, CEI’s aspiration has always been to ‘bridge Europe” by reinvigorating the spirit of multilateralism. Our ambition to make multilateral institutions more effective and relevant to the people can find its best opportunities of succeeding at the regional level, where organizations such as CEI operate.
Aiming to promote regional integration while preserving diversity, CEI has become over the years a unique transregional platform for political dialogue and project-oriented cooperation. It has developed a specific added value through its “light organizational footprint.” This makes CEI “fit for purpose” to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, which it has fully endorsed in its Plan of Action.
Today’s panel discussion will illustrate its work and hopefully pave the way for synergies and coordination with the United Nations and with other regional organizations and partnerships.
The Italian Presidency has structured its program in line with the architecture of the 2030 Agenda and, especially, around the SDGs that are now under review. Just to give you some highlights:
– In autumn, we will host, in Rome, a CEI high-level event on combating corruption. Consistent with Italy’s commitment to countering this scourge, the event will provide an occasion to intensify joint efforts in a crucial domain falling under SDG 16 (“peaceful societies, justice and strong institutions”). In our discussions in Rome, we will be able to build on the outcomes of the HLPF segment on SDG16 -– attended by the Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Emanuela Del Re just a few days ago – and its preparatory conference, hosted in Rome last May by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
– We are organizing a CEI Ministerial Meeting on Research and Innovation, to be held in Trieste in September, in cooperation with the Trieste Scientific Hub. With a focus on scientific research, capacity building, entrepreneurship and green growth, the meeting will contribute to furthering regional action on SGD 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), and SDG 13 (climate change).
The Italian Presidency is also engaged in strengthening the CEI multi-stakeholders approach, multiplying occasions to connect the intergovernmental, parliamentary and local dimensions and involving civil society actors throughout the cycle of CEI programs and activities. We are placing special emphasis on “localizing” CEI action by encouraging an internal debate on how to enhance its role and visibility at the regional and local levels. We are also planning to develop a full-fledged “CEI Agenda for Youth,” to enable young people in the region to become engines of development.
Our firm belief in capacity building, knowledge sharing and technical assistance in favor of institutional consolidation, has also translated in a consistent support from Italy to instruments like the Technical Cooperation Programme and the Know-how Exchange Programme which are very distinctive of CEI and its way of operating with its partners and members. We will listen during the following presentations by the testimonials Italy has brought to New York for this event.
The purpose of the HLPF is to assess progress and relaunch political ambitions toward the 2030 Agenda. Gathering a varied spectrum of Countries sharing a European perspective, EU members and non-members alike, for the last 30 years the CEI has helped to create an enabling environment for convergence on common standards of sustainable development. As such, it is becoming a natural partner of the UN.
Connectivity, in the political, economic and social spheres of cooperation is CEI’s trademark. Its flexibility and dual nature – as a political forum and an operational platform for cooperation – makes it a model that could be replicated in other regional contexts. It offers practice and experience that could contribute to scale up our commitment to the SDGs through tailored regional instruments and solutions. Our hope is for today’s discussion to be the first step in this direction.