For the second year running, UNESCO Jakarta Office organized a regional strategic coordination meeting under the heading “Science to Enable and Empower Asia Pacific for Sustainable Development Goals II.” Held in Jakarta during 17-19 September, the event gathered more than 100 science practitioners, managers and educators from across Asia and the Pacific. Together, they identified six areas of priority to advance during the coming months.

Representing 15 UNESCO Category II Centres, multiple UNESCO field offices, ministries and government agencies as well as members of the private sector and non-government organizations, the participants, including 40 women, gathered in Jakarta, Indonesia from 20 countries across Asia and the Pacific to attend the three-day SEEAP II meeting.

During the first day of SEEAP II, the event opened with welcoming remarks from the Mr. Shahbaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Jakarta Office, following with high-level officials: Mr. H. Arief Rachman (Executive Chairman, Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO); Ms. Aya Saito (Representing Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology [MEXT], Japan); Mr. Y W Junardy (President, Indonesia Global Compact Network); Mr. Bambang Setiadi (Chairman, National Research Council of Indonesia); Mr. Mego Pinandito, M.Eng (Deputy for Scientific Services, representing chairman of Indonesian Institute of Sciences [LIPI]). The speakers of the opening remarks emphasized on how this event will provide an opportunity to carry forward the SDG agenda and take it to another level with the help of regional collaborations as well as advancing the science, technology, and innovation within the SDGs that will benefit the whole society.

Following the opening remarks, Mr. Khan facilitated a panel discussion with a combination of government officials, scientists, and experts to discuss on the different disciplines that UNESCO works on, the role and potential of science in addressing societal challenges across the region, and the role of the UNESCO family on implementing and promoting sciences within the SDGs around the world.   

Among a number of high-level statements delivered during the opening sessions of the event, Ms. Amanda Katili, Head of the Expert Team of the President of Indonesia’s Envoy for Climate Change, highlighted the importance of youth mobilization and regional collaboration for climate action. She emphasized on how communications is a key enabler for the youth to become vocal on their ideas and opinions toward climate action and combat against climate change through outreach and development.

The event was organized as a series of thematic sessions serving to transform participants’ ideas into concrete actions through an activity called World Café, which was a series of roundtable discussions. Various topics included improving urban water technology and governance; localizing SDGs through UNESCO-designated sites; addressing vulnerabilities of remote communities; mainstreaming ocean literacy; building national and regional cooperation in disaster risk reduction; and mapping and mobilizing science, technology, and innovation for the SDGs. With the assistance from the UNESCO Jakarta staff and interns, the participants collaborated with each other on brainstorming interdisciplinary projects relating to SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 14: Life Below Water, and SDG 15: Life on Land. Each group presented their ideas on their joint regional projects on the SDGs and shared their thoughts on how UNESCO can go further by advancing sciences for all learners across Asia and the Pacific and around the globe.

At the close of the event, UNESCO Jakarta Office committed to advancing these proposals into active projects with participation and cooperation of all stakeholders interested in each area. The event ended with closing remarks from Mr. Yusuke Takahashi, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan in Indonesia, where he expressed his views that SDGs aren’t only for developed countries but everyone including developing countries and private sectors and especially important for Asia and the Pacific.

On the final day of the meeting, participants visited Pramuka Island in Jakarta’s Thousand Islands Archipelago, where they experienced mangrove planting, sea turtle release, and coral transplantation at the Kepulauan Seribu National Park. Lunch was provided in Nusa Resto where participants were able to enjoy the sunny ocean breeze around the island.