The 2017 EROPA Conference was formally opened on 12 September 2017 at the Grand Intercontinental Parnas Seoul, Korea. Distinguished officials and guests from different state governments and other renowned institutions attended the said event. The conference is jointly hosted by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety and the Ministry of Personnel Management, and organized by the National Human Resources Development Institute (NHI).
During the Opening Ceremony, Honorable Boo-Kyum Kim, the Minister of the Interior and Safety of Korea delivered the opening remarks to the delegates of the 2017 EROPA General Assembly and Conference with the theme, “The Role of Public Governance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming, Empowering, and Network-Building”. The minister highlighted the role of public governance in achieving the sustainable development goals. He then continued his speech by citing the importance of SDGs in South Korea’s government agenda.
Hon. Pan Suk Kim, the Minister of Personnel Management of Korea, also graced the delegates. In his speech, he noted that the conference’s theme tackles the timely global subject of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. As all the 17 SDGs are interconnected, Minister Kim said that the implementation to achieve these goals necessitates an integrative approach. He zeroed in on the discussing the relevance of Goal 16 of the SDG, which refers to public administration. Minister Kim then shared the efforts of the South Korea’s new government to implement policies to meet the SDGs. For his part as Minister of Personnel Management, he shared the changes they are working in the Ministry to be able to meet the challenges of achieving the SDGs. In closing, Minister Kim highlighted the need for collaboration, cooperation and partnerships among citizens, business, civil society organizations alongside the government in all levels--from to local, regional to global.
In rendering his Welcoming Speech, EROPA Secretary General Dr. Orlando S. Mercado acknowledged the efforts of those who tirelessly prepared for the success of this year’s general assembly and conference. Dr. Mercado looked back to the birth of EROPA in the 1960s. He stated that the EROPA is currently in the stage of consolidation; taking stock from the challenges it is facing and reaping the fruits of its past endeavors. Secretary-General Mercado stated that nostalgia is useful in keeping alive the original vision of the organization to be able to chart its future. However, he stressed that what is more important now is to be able to find ways to meet the challenges in public administration amid the fast paced changes happening globally. While it is good to be nostalgic, Dr. Mercado said that it also pays to be realistic to be able to cope with competition.
The first keynote speaker of the ceremony is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi, who discussed the challenges governments are facing in achieving the SDGs by 2030. She stated that the SDG is “one of the most challenging and complex policy agendas that the global community has ever attempted” as its implementation necessitates the coordination and complementation of every departments and branches of the government as well as the cooperation of the citizens, private sector and civil society organizations.
Trade-offs will also be encountered in the process of achieving the goals, as they are sometimes conflicting. For example, the interest of protecting the environment is affected by the programs to ensure food security.
Greater challenges vis-à-vis governance are anticipated in the achievement of the SDGs. Deputy Secretary-General Kiviniemi recommended the systems approach in dealing with these governance challenges. On the brighter side, these challenges are opportunities for governments and other actors to experiment and to innovate. She also emphasized the importance of the indicators in learning as well as benchmarking achievements. Finally, Ms. Kiviniemi underscored the role of a highly-skilled performance-oriented civil service in governments’ delivery of SDGs.
The last keynote speaker is the Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network of Korea, Mr. Soogil Young. Mr. Young emphasized that the UN will celebrate the second anniversary of the declaration of the SDGs. The current implementation of the SDGs are embedded in every government’s agenda. Moreover, he shared the situation of the implementation of the SDGs in South Korea. He also stressed that the fundamental principle of SDGs requires informed policymaking and implementation. Problems in governance are not unique to South Korea. He added that all countries will benefit from SDGs, and highlighted that digital technology can be a tool for good governance that will help in the attainment of SDGs. He ended his speech by expressing his sentiment that the event will surely contribute to the implementation of the SDGs especially to developing countries.