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Why global leaders must collaborate to actualize SDGs

 

Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations

Twelve months after the historic launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), world leaders are busy comparing notes on progress made so far albeit brainstorming on the best strategy for hitting the targets of leaving ‘no one behind’ by the year 2030.

Experts and policy leaders who featured on the 2016 Annual Meetings of the IMF/WBG’s high-level seminar on “One Year of SDGs” were unanimous in their verdict: a lot more needs to be done at all levels.

Even as news of escalating terrorism, nationalism and natural disasters around the world stokes fear of possible relapse on the SDGs, majority of the countries reviewed by the World Bank are reportedly gaining traction.

However, UN General Assembly President, Peter Thomson, insists global leaders and other key actors must commit more political will as well as collaborative efforts to fast-track the implementation of the SDGs. Represented by Mrs Dessima Williams, the UNGA chief reiterated commitment of the institution towards achieving all the 17 agenda in record time. “Ending poverty is our goal,” Thomson said.

For Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, world leaders must realize that they face high-level expectations and must brace up to deliver. Noting that the actualization of the SDGs should not be a solo effort, Mr. Elliason declared the commitment of the UN to work with other development partners and governments to meet the targets. According to him, leaders at the national parliaments and local governments must be co-opted into the SDG action plan to widen the outreach and increase the deliverables.

Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary Secretary, Germany also agreed that a lot more needs to be done. Silberhorn, who reported that his country has made significant progress on the SDGs, however, warned of the dangers of cherry-picking on the key pillars. “We need to take the SDGs seriously in its entirety. We need a holistic approach in terms of implementation and this should be adopted and integrated into development plans at the national and local levels,” he said.

Mauricio Cardenas, Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Colombia said it has become imperative to integrate the SDGs into national development plans as well as having a system for measurement and evaluation of its progress. According to him, SDGs is now fully embedded with the country’s 40 years development plan, both at the national and sub-national levels. “We decided to push the sub-national governments to incorporate the SDGs into their own development plans to ensure that it starts from the grassroots,” he said.

Matia Kasaija, Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development and Patrick Conteh, Minister of State for Finance, Sierra Leone, also reported satisfactory progress in the SDGs in their countries. However, both were emphatic that Low Income Countries (LIC) such as theirs need funding support to meet the targets. “Uganda has full political will to implement the SDGs but the constraint is funds. Once we have money, we are quite convinced that we will achieve all the targets,” Kasaija declared.

Conteh also said that funding is a major challenge for Sierra Leone in achieving the SDGs targets. “Funding is very important because without it, everything falls apart,” Conteh said. He suggested that efforts should be directed towards tracking illicit funds and repatriating them for use in their host countries.

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, agreed that a lot more funding is needed to invest in the programmes, particularly infrastructure that would help achieve the SDGs targets. He noted that private sector funding is crucial as public funding is not enough. “There is need to find ways to bring in private finance,” he said, noting that EIB was fully committed to playing a key role in the SDGs project.

By Olisemeka Obeche

 

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