Coalition of actors and coordination needed to realise SDGs and Agenda 2063, say East and Southern African countries

Jun 16, 2016

UNDP brings together more than 100 participants for development agendas rollout. Photo: UNDP

Johannesburg, South Africa, 16 June 2016 - Political leadership, prioritization amongst goals and an all-hands-on deck approach are needed if African countries are to succeed in implementing the universal Agenda 2030 and the continental Agenda 2063, aimed at inclusive prosperity for all, while securing the environment.

These are among the conclusions of a two-day meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, where more than 100 government officials, civil society and UN agency representatives from East and Southern Africa convened to discuss and share experiences about integrating the agendas into national development plans, and the different practical tools available to countries to do this.

The meeting was convened by the UN Development Programme’s Regional Bureau for Africa, together with the African Union Commission and in partnership with government of Kazakhstan.

In his opening remarks, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe emphasized the need for the two agendas to speak to each other. “At the core of all these is the urgency to address economic, social and environmental issues to improve the lives of our people,” Minister Radebe said.

“These twin development agendas, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063, are not about the United Nations and the African Union respectively, but the common desire to emancipate the people of the continent and the world from poverty, economic marginalization and inequality.”  

The universal Agenda 2030 that includes 17 SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063 that seeks an integrated, peaceful and prosperous continent broadly complement each other.

“There is a wide range of convergence between the two agendas and a mapping exercise has been done at goal, target and indicator level. The 17 SDGs are encapsulated into the 20 goals of the first 10-year implementation plan of Agenda 2063,” said Dr Anthony Maruping, Commissioner for Economic Affairs with the African Union Commission.

UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP South Africa Resident Representative Mr Gana Fofang noted the sub-regional meeting was timely as many countries represented will be going into their national development planning processes.

“Ensuring that the global and regional goals are incorporated in national development plans at the get-go will reduce transactional costs of implementing and reporting on parallel objectives,” said Gana Fofang. “The investments made today will help focus the efforts of development actors and resources at various levels towards a common purpose and vision. But agendas remain mere words on paper unless they are implemented.”

During meeting discussions, common characteristics that emerged among countries that have made progress on integrating the SDGs into national plans include an institutional setup at the highest political level and a multi-stakeholder approach with different actors through, for instance, a national steering committee.

Acting Director for Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda Mr Ssansa Mugeyi presented his country’s SDGs localisation process that included mainstreaming guidelines and a certification process that has resulted in 76 percent of SDG targets being mainstreamed into the National Development Plan II. In Botswana, a Vision Presidential Task Team focused on aligning the country with global and regional sustainable development frameworks. 

Given the broadness and ambition of the two agendas discussions also focused on how to prioritise amongst the goals, while maintaining the indivisible and integrated nature of the SDGs.

“Countries can map out the SDGs with integration effects – investments that yield greater results across other goals – or those that have huge multiplier effects,’ said UNDP Strategic Advisor with the Regional Bureau for Africa Eunice Kamwendo.

“Goals 7, 9 and 15 on affordable and clean energy; industry, innovation and infrastructure; and life on land could make positive impact on goals 2,3,4, 8 and 10 on zero hunger; good health and wellbeing; quality education; decent work and economic growth; and reduced inequalities.”

“SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls could have multiplier effects across all the SDGs that address poverty reduction, health and nutrition, and education,” she added.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Chief of Renewal Planning Section Bartholomew Armah outlined how an inclusive and sustainable structural transformation agenda requires tackling the three economic, social and environmental pillars of development in an integrated way, with higher dividends on social investments.

Meeting participants also saw the lack of data as a key challenge to mainstreaming the development agendas into national plans, and highlighted the need to strengthen statistical institutions.

Mauritius, for example, is integrating the SDGs into its Vision 2030 and has set up a Committee on SDG Statistical Indicators as part of its integrated implementation approach. According to Ministry of Environment, Sustainable Development, Disaster and Beach Management Acting Senior Chief Executive Mr Grish Gunraz Gunesh the committee is to consider the development of relevant indicators for the SDGs, assess data gaps and identify relevant data sources.

How to pay for the implementation of the development agendas was also an area of concern for participants. With Official Development Assistance (ODA) declining, meeting discussions focused on more robust domestic resource mobilization as well as other sources of financing and partnerships to meet the goals. The private sector was seen as playing a key role not only in creating jobs, but also in ensuring sustainable business practices in line with the development agendas.

Generating and sharing new ideas, knowledge, and technologies were also mentioned as key to achieving the new agendas.

“Every country has relevant experiences to share, and every country has new things to learn,” said UNDP Resident Representative Gana Fofang. “South-South Cooperation is playing a growing role in development, as evidenced by this very conference, and is greatly valued by developing countries,” noting the African countries present and the support of Kazakhstan. 

The critical role of civil society in raising awareness about the agendas, and engaging the general public in implementation and monitoring progress on the development goals was highlighted by all participants, but sustainable funding for their activities was seen as a challenge.

Practical tools to mainstream the SDGs were presented, including the UN Development Group’s “MAPS” approach focused on mainstreaming the agenda into national plans and budgets; accelerating progress across the agenda; and leveraging policy support from across the UN system.

A second sub-regional workshop will be held for West and Central African countries in Dakar, Senegal during 21-22 June 2016.

Source: UNDP Africa