Opinion: Implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

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While each of the 17 items in the SDGs has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years terminating in 2030, it is important to note that for the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do his or her part: governments, the private sector, civil society and all stakeholders as a whole.

Having learnt some lessons from the implementation of the MDGs, there is a renewed effort spearheaded by the United Nations to ensure the achievement of the sustainable development goals SDGs as targeted, especially in nations in the world most affected by development challenges particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Africa.

In its advice to countries on how to work towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations emphasised the need for all stakeholders to work together to implement the global goals at national, regional and global levels in accordance with national realities and levels of capacity.

Hence, as governments prepare and start rolling out the 2030 Agenda at country level, there is high demand for a number of new processes and innovative solutions to meet the expectations instilled in the global agreement and ensure that sustainable development is implemented in an integrated and balanced manner and that no one is left behind.Already, the United Nations and all its various agencies are working with countries in different parts of the world to provide support aimed at rendering specialised assistance, which can help move the process forward and achieve greater outputs.

As part of its contributions, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) has already, under the umbrella of its Capacity for the 2030 Agenda Initiative, lined up various capacity building programmes and is now delivering a series of activities, face-to-face workshops, and learning sessions/conferences, etc with the goal to help national governments and other stakeholders (particularly participants from Africa LDCs) build capacity for the mainstreaming, implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda.

Recently in Abuja, Nigeria, UNITAR organised one of such events titled “Holistic Approaches for the Implementation of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”, which brought together participants from 18 different countries to a knowledge sharing exercise which facilitated productive engagement among participants and enabled them to share their experience of SDGs mainstreaming based on cases from their different contexts.

Organised in collaboration with the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning, the Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Agence Française de Développement, and the United Nations Development Group, the event held from March 1-2, 2017.

As activities progress, series of such events will be organised by UNITAR to take the message to the people and to share beneficial ideas and tools that would strengthen capacities of officials and prepare governments for the tasks required to achieve this laudable global agenda.

In view of the onerous tasks at hand and learning from past experience, there is no doubt that effective implementation and mainstreaming of the SDGs at local and national levels require technical capabilities in different areas such as goal-setting, use of analytical tools, integrated decision-making, effective coordination, inclusive practices, and effective budget planning, among others.

This is where capacity building fits in and this makes working together very vital to benefit from the experience that can be shared together through partnership.

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In the word of UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNITAR Executive Director, Mr. Nikhil Seth, there is urgent need “to take action, to work together to ensure global agreements are implemented at regional, national and local levels, taking into account the lives of those most vulnerable and furthest behind.”

Over the next several months, therefore, UNITAR has planned to host series of training focused on this theme where key government officials and other stakeholders from diverse sectors will build capacities and be able to produce results and manage achievements regarding all sectors of the SDGs at local, states, and national levels.

Apart from receiving necessary awareness on the Agenda, the planned activities will also include exposure to knowledge and capacity building in critical areas such as monitoring and evaluation, integration models, resource mobilisation, budgeting and financial planning, result based framework, evidence based data gathering, stakeholder engagement, disaggregated data gathering, use of various analytical tools, and a host of other relevant fields required to function effectively in making effective contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Most especially, it is very important that all stakeholders should have a comprehensive knowledge about the Agenda as a global mandate for all individuals to work for its realisation. And officials engaged in the planning and designing programmes and activities to meet the SDGs at all levels should be able to deeply reflect on critical issues which can facilitate achievement of results in their programming including questions of what policy gaps are to be addressed, which SDGs/targets to prioritise, how they should be prioritised, how National Development Plans (NDPs) should be designed in line with the SDGs, and how targets and indicators should be integrated into NDPs, etc. Awareness raising is, therefore, a continuous programme in mainstreaming the SDGs.

Furthermore, considering the important role of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) to all aspects of implementation of the SDGs, UNITAR will step up its training activities in the thematic area through ongoing and new collaborations to develop capacities for monitoring changes, identifying gaps, and preparing for the future. M&E creates incentives for effectiveness, and promotes stakeholder engagement and empowerment.

Since it has potential to change lives by helping to inform and improve policies by guiding decisions in areas such as feedback about relevance, impact, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and understanding what works and what not, and how and why results are not being achieved, the development of national M&E infrastructure would go a long way in effectively implementing and mainstreaming the MDGs in national development plans.

Also, it is highly essential for enhancing accountability and transparency, thereby offering great benefits to Africa LDCs especially putting into consideration challenges such as corruption, misplaced priorities, and other negative practices which have remained parts of the banes to growth and economic development in the LDCs and other countries in Africa.

With the increased use of smart phones and other hand-held devices, new sources of big data, and rapid evolution of smart data analytics, among others, the next few years will see dramatic changes in how M&E data is collected, analysed and used.


Fadayomi writes from the UNITAR office in Abuja

This opinion article was first published on The Guardian

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