There should be alignment between the respective national initiative, the continental initiative and the global initiative.The goals and targets covered by the SDGs and Africa 2063 show a significant amount of overlap and therefore the focus should be on coordination within countries and among continental development institutions.
The national development plans and policies of developing countries should shape the nature of the domestication of the Africa Agenda 2063 and SDGs. To deliver on the SDGs, Agenda 2063, and our respective national priorities and other global and continental obligations, some of the principles and things to do are, to mention a few:
-We need to coordinate and collaborate; establish and strengthen partnerships that blends the strengths of governments, private sector, non-profit organisations; the scientific community, academia, philanthropy and foundations, parliaments, local authorities, volunteers and other stakeholders
-We need to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to complement the efforts of governments
-We need to as much as we possibly can, work within the current institutions and not establish new one
-Each country should decide for themselves what their reform priorities are – some issues are more priorities for SA, but may not be priority for other African countries and vice versa
-Initiatives that have started in support of implementation of the various plans and strategies within countries should continue and be supported
-Our national development targets and indicators have been rationalised to improve the quality of national reporting
We need to build on the experiences learned from the MDGs process, strengthen and broaden our efforts based on these lessons. To make reference to a few examples, lessons from the MDGs show the following:
Commitment to the goals and the importance of effective policy implementation - The successful implementation of the MDGs was found to be conditional on country commitments to the Goals and targets. The choice of policies and how well such policies were implemented determined how much progress could be made on the MDGs.
Citizens’ engagement in policy development – The successful implementation of the MDGs hinged on development strategies that were locally developed, based on a broad national consensus, achieved through consultation and meaningful participation by non-government stakeholders, including vulnerable groups.
State capacity - Representative political structures, accountable institutions and adequately incentivized public servants have been the backbone of effective implementation of the MDGs.
Horizontal, inter-sectoral coordination - The MDGs disregarded the close correlations that exist between the different goals. UNDP’s 2010 report ‘What Will It Take to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals? – An International Assessment’ finds that there are important synergies among the MDGs - acceleration in one goal often speeds up progress in others. For example, in households where women are illiterate, child mortality is higher, implying the links between education, the empowerment of women and the health of children.
Given these synergistic and multiplier effects, all the goals need to be given equal attention and achieved simultaneously. This requires multi-sectoral approaches and coordination among various implementing agencies.’ The importance of coordination among line ministries, planning and implementing agencies at different levels (national and subnational) must be stressed also for the SDGs.
Equality and disaggregated data - The MDGs’ exclusive focus on national averages implied a complete neglect of inequality. The use of the MDG framework was making it difficult to understand whether progress in any one goal or target had been achieved through improvements of the situation of the poor, or through additional improvements of the situation of the wealthy and privileged.
Access to data, disaggregated by gender, ethnicity, age group, geographic location and other, will enable to monitor progress towards the SDGs at the last mile, to ensure that ‘no one is left behind.’ More attention to equalizing policies and to strengthening the capacity to deliver services and promote the economy at the local level are crucial for countries to attain the SDGs.
When we say there is alignment between the various initiatives and Agendas, we must be careful not to be complacent and relax. More work is needed to support and guide implementation. More emphasis should be put on the quality of services measures, than access and quantity. Alongside that is the challenge to define quality indicators.
In addition, as the continent, we have had a number of discussions about achievement of the different Agendas. For example, the outcomes of the 2015 Addis Ababa Action Agenda outline the concrete policies and actions that could be taken. These include: “strengthening public policies, dealing with regulatory frameworks and finance at all levels, unlocking the transformative potential of people and the private sector, and incentivizing changes in financing as well as consumption and production patterns to support sustainable development.”
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda further sums it all up when it indicates that, “multi-stakeholder partnerships and the resources, knowledge and ingenuity of the private sector, civil society, the scientific community, academia, philanthropy and foundations, parliaments, local authorities, volunteers and other stakeholders will be important to mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, complement the efforts of governments, and support the achievement of the SDG.”
From government’s side, we need commitment to develop relevant policies, strengthen regulatory framework where necessary in order to better align private sector incentives with public goals. There is further need for commitment to promote and create enabling domestic and international conditions for inclusive and sustainable private sector investment that entails transparent and stable rules and standards, free and fair competition that is conducive to achieving national development policies.
Equally important is the need to urgently address communication issues with respect to transition from MDGs, emphasise the alignment of the different Agendas and focus on implementation and domestication. Most ordinary people still talk about the MDGs, we have not brought them on board with respect to the transition from MDGs to SDGs. Ordinary citizens are critical players in achievement of the goals of the different Agendas.
We need to take consultations within government, non-governmental organisations, the private sectors and civil societies, and engage on domestication of the SDGs and Agenda 2063. Our efforts should be premised on empowering all stakeholders to contribute to the collective effort.
The focus from now on is to ensure that over the next 15 years, we work together nationally, regionally and globally in order to deliver on the agreed Sustainable Development Goals. Mainly, the focus is on the means of implementation.
As the process of implementation progresses, there will be follow-up and reviews that will need to be conducted in order to understand where countries are at. This is a way in which governments will account and take stock of progress.
There is an action call that businesses should apply their creativity and innovation toward solving sustainable development challenges, such as, investing in areas critical to sustainable development, and to shift to more sustainable consumption and production patterns.
There is recognition that private international capital flows, particularly foreign direct investment (FDI), along with a stable international financial system, are vital complements to national development efforts. However, there are concerns that investment gaps in key sectors for sustainable development still exist. FDI is concentrated in a few sectors in many developing countries and often bypasses countries most in need, and international capital flows are often short-term oriented.
The realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 does not depend just on government. It needs a multidimensional approach that needs different stakeholders, skills and expertise. But most of all, nothing could be achieved without the necessary resources. Governments, internationally and within the African continent, are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063 and looking forward to forging the global partnerships needed to realise the goals. Together we can do more.
By Jeff Radebe
Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Performance, Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration, Republic of South Africa.