By Judy Njino
What do the Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve?
The world is ten years away from the deadline for achieving the 2030 Agenda — and yet we are not on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are words on paper that need vitality, evidence, and political will to move toward becoming actions at the regional and national levels that will empower people and the planet to flourish.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015 by the 193 Member States of the United Nations. These 17 goals set the ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ with 169 targets aimed at ending poverty, fighting inequality and tackling climate change over the next years.
The global community needs to think differently about plans to get back on track — and that means advancing the efficiency of development cooperation. Presently, the process of implementing SDGs has been more collaborative than any other UN process in history. And as an outcome, we both have an extensive and in some ways a balanced view of the future we want – representing various sectors and voices, including the private sector’s voice.
As part of the 2019 session of the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, countries, UN officials and stakeholders shared their outlook on the four years of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), during which 142 countries released their reports. Voluntary Nation Reviews play a vital role as they help in identifying challenges, are important in distinguishing gaps and the way forward on the SDGs at the country level.
SDG 10 on reduced inequalities has been recognized as the most crucial goal that requires great attention, but strategies to achieve it are ambiguous or nonexistent in the reports. Moreover, it is not feasible to eradicate poverty (SDG 1) with our government’s current revenues. However, the SDGs have made a commitment to ending poverty. This can be used to point out that our only hope is to drastically change our global economy to make it essentially fairer for the majority of the world.
Another challenge highlighted was the need to strengthen the SDG capacity of members of the national assembly who can further engagement for its implementation in the government. Government alone cannot attain the SDGs and it would then require the “whole-of-society” approach to make participation more meaningful. Kenya has achieved several milestones over the past 4 years of its implementation of the SDGs. With the creation of the SDG Kenya Forum, there is more support from multi-stakeholders comprising of key government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), UN agencies, civil society and private sector. Awareness-raising among government officials has anchored the 2030 Agenda in national realities. The SDG Forum has in place the country’s roadmap for SDGs implementation, which focuses on critical milestones crucial for effective transition from MDGs to SDGs.
The purpose of this multi-stakeholder framework is to promote better decision making by ensuring that the views of all stakeholders are heard and integrated at all stages through dialogue and consensus-building. The framework aims to create trust between the actors and offer solutions that provide mutual benefits (win-win) scenarios. The framework also helps to create dialogue mechanisms, which focus on commonalities and cohesiveness of all stakeholders. The framework helps generate and share knowledge, stimulate innovative thinking, promote accountability and strengthen the stakeholder networks.
It is important to center on those who benefit from the SDGs the most: the poor, children and marginalized groups. There is a legitimate risk that the SDGs could become all about the indicators, instead of efforts towards realizing the bigger vision. Unless these indicators are used to significantly improve their lives and opportunities, we will have failed in this ambitious agenda.
The SDGs should be viewed as a springboard, not an end in themselves. Ultimately, partnerships and investments will be pivotal in advancing progress towards the 2030 agenda towards creating the world we want.
The writer is Executive Director, Global Compact Network Kenya (GCNK). She can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org.