How will Africa engage on the implementation of Agenda 2030?

Stephen chachaStephen Chacha is an independent development consultant, founder of Africa Philanthropic Foundation (member of Together 2030), a secretariat member of the Africa CSOs Working Group, and a Regional Focal Point for UNEP’s 10 Years Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production. Contacts: stephen@agenda2030africa.org;  Twitter: @Stephenchacha

This is the first post of a Series from Stephen Chacha on the implementation of Agenda 2030 in Africa 

The year 2015 was a watershed year in global development as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) endorsed in 2000 with 8 goals, 21 targets, and 60 indicators came to an end, and United Nations Member States reached historic agreements to set global agendas to guide development priorities for a generation, and committed to eradicating poverty, fighting inequalities, building peaceful, inclusive, and resilient societies, and securing the future of the planet and the well being of future generations. These include:

These landmark events are ushering in new global agendas and defining their means of implementation.

As much as these agreements are global their implementation is local and their impact is going to be realized and felt locally first before being registered as global impact.

Member States were expected to hit the ground running by commencing the implementation of the bold commitments from January 2016, and prepare for the first review by July 2016 during the 2016 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) session with the theme “ensuring that no one is left behind”.

National ownership for the transition of these global agreements, inclusiveness, effective and efficient implementation and follow up and review mechanisms are crucial.

While experience from the Millennium Development Goals implementation indicates that the goals were integrated in national development plans in a number of developing countries, we should also not forget that it took up to five years for this to be realized and for the MDGs implementation to commence in most African countries as a result of alignment of MDGs with national development plans, and the delays in provision of technical assistance, and the necessary means of implementation by development partners. Overall, the region crossed the 2015 mark with five goals off-track, and with countries like Central African Republic not registering achievement on any of the Millennium Development Goals. The region also registered huge variations in progress across all countries in the region.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development tries to mitigate this through bottom-up and inclusive approaches, and by strengthening the means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development.

African Heads of States and Governments alike other Heads of States and Governments from around the world pronounced their support and commitment towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development during the UN summit for the adoption of the Post 2015 Development Agenda.

Together with the 17 Goals, and 169 targets under Sustainable Development Goals that African countries were expected to commence implementation this past January, the same countries are also expected to contribute towards the realization of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 (through its 10 years implementation plan), regional economic communities strategies (e.g. East Africa Community vision 2050), and the respective national development plans. Implementation and monitoring and evaluation of these multiple layers of strategies with different timelines have proved to be challenging and burdening to most African countries.

Moreover, what used to be a threat of “cherry-picking” on the goals is gradually turning into a reality in Tanzania and in many other African countries. This is mainly due to lack of adequate technical and financial capabilities, and efforts to align the Sustainable Development Goals with the existing priorities in national development strategies and plans with minimal disruptions. As a result most countries chose to prioritize some of the Sustainable Development Goals over the others. In most cases prioritization goes with the assumption that by focusing and directing resources towards the prioritized goals they would automatically contribute towards the realization of the un-prioritized goals.

On top of these are weak or lack of supportive institutional and policy frameworks to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in most African countries. Coordination of the three pillars of sustainable development has not been easy in most countries in Africa. According to a study conducted by United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on National Strategies for Sustainable Development, African countries took different approaches in developing and implementing National Strategies for Sustainable Development (as recommended in the outcome of the 1992 Rio Conference).

While some countries directed efforts towards improving or restructuring their decision making processes to achieve a full integration of social, economic and environmental pillars and to include a broad range of stakeholders participation, others took a conservative and complementary approach, whereby a separate strategy document that embodied the broad strategic framework was prepared, then other strategies and planning instruments were updated to incorporate the sustainability principles espoused in the framework strategy. As a result of this, 23 years after the 1992 Rio conference still the three pillars of sustainable development are not integrated in most African countries.

Even though efforts are underway in most African countries to ensure timely and effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, political will and commitment towards implementation and realization of the SDGs will be critical for those promises to become a reality in the continent.

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