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‘Political will key in achieving SDGs’ 

VARIOUS stakeholders yesterday warned that without political will and investment in accurate data and technology, Africa risks not being able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

This emerged during the ongoing Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRSD) here where discussions were being held on how to achieve SDGs one to five which are on ending poverty, hunger, improving health and well-being, education and gender equality.

African Union Commission (AUC) head of division, health nutrition and population, Magaret Agama-Anyetei, said political will from Africa governments is a critical factor required to fast track the achievement of SDGs, while leaving no person behind.

“Considerable action has been taken by African governments to achieve the SDGs. Policies have been formulated in support of these goals. However, there is need to go beyond the formulation of policies to implementing them for real transformation,” Anyetei said.

“This requires political will in order to implement policies which tackle the real challenges hindering development such as corruption, illicit financial flows, injustice and human rights abuses. Without this political will Africa may not be able to achieve the SDGs by 2030,” she added said.

This comes as the United Nations (UN) deputy secretary-general, Amina Mohammed, recently warned that data collected from Africa indicates that the continent is not on track to achieving the SDGs of urgent action is not taken.

Cornell University Sociology professor Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue said apart from political will, investment in gathering accurate data on the challenges being faced in Africa, science and technology is critical to achieving the SDGs.

“The fundamental question is that can we truly meet all these five goals without leaving anyone behind or are we just deluding ourselves? My hunch is that we can if we gather and use a lot of data, science and most importantly a lot of wisdom,” Enyegue said.

He further said that African leaders should apply principles drawn from African wisdom to implement reforms which can enable the continent to achieve the SDGs.

“The first principle is what we might call the principle of co-benefits, which means not tackling one goal at a time but thinking about how the goals help each other. This is like having one goal scratch the back of another goal in return.

“The second principle is to think about systems as opposed to individual goals and targets. For example, agriculture is not just about nutrition it’s about the entire food system and how we can use that as an entry point to address issues of health, infrastructure, inequality and empowerment,” he said.

He added that another principle that should be employed is that of collaborative action.

“We need to have a clear definition of who we are working for and who is going to do the work. As we work through SDG one to five we have to keep in mind that we are working for the people and the work is going to be done by the people and we then need to invest in the people.

“We also need to pay attention to the science of demography in order to harness the power of people and to serve people,” Enyegue said.

On her part, Gambia Women Affairs minister Fatou Kinteh said there is also need to empower women if SDGs are to be achieved.

“Women constitute the greater part of Africa’s population. They therefore need to be empowered in agriculture, health and governance.

“In most cases, women have the burden of taking care or the family, so if they are not empowered achieving SDGs remains pipe dream,” Kinteh.


Sindiso Mhlophe

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