11 – 13 December 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – A three-day “Symposium on Governance for Implementing the Sustainable Development Commitments in Africa” took place from 11th to 13th December 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This Symposium organized in partnership by UN DESA, UNITAR, UNDP and OIF featured a keynote address by Ambassador Kamau and plenary and break-out sessions with the participation of several Ministers and senior public officials from most of the African countries. The meeting has called for maintaining the high level of ambition instilled in the Agendas and rising to the challenge of implementation, for ensuring a sustained and exemplary leadership and whole-of-government approaches, and for empowering people and societies at large to actively shape policy design. It has provided a practical knowledge-sharing and showcasing space for government officers leading work on the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 and international partners.
Sustaining the momentum through inspirational leadership and strengthened technical knowledge, tools and competences will be critical to ensuring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 on the African continent. Ambassador Kamau, one of the two co-chairs of the former Open Working Group on SDGs, has provided Symposium participants with food for thought noting that the achievement of the two agendas was in the realm of the possible provided there is exemplary leadership to steer the process. Attracting investments through solid project design, seizing the opportunities such as those presented blue economy and private sector resources, and strategically leveraging the existing resource base with the objective to transition towards more sustainable economic trajectories all represent keys to future success.
The Symposium has also highlighted the importance of a holistic vision and aligned processes across the policy cycle to ensure the Agendas are not only incorporated into national planning instruments but that they are also implemented with the support of the fit-for-purpose budgeting and resource mobilization mechanisms, and integrated M&E systems. Furthermore, the importance of broader stakeholder engagement from within and outside the Government in planning, implementation and M&E has also been identified as the defining feature of the truly new approaches promoted by the SDGs and supportive of their main principle: leaving no one behind. Minister Zainab Ahmed of Nigeria has talked about the importance of participatory and adaptable mechanisms to overcome bureaucratic bottlenecks. She has emphasized that the implementation should be inclusive and accountable. The challenges of introducing the SDGs against the backdrop of complex situations characterized by recession, commodity-dependent structures of the economies and pockets of fragility was another key theme of Minister’s presentation.
Many participants have pinpointed the implementation challenge. Minister Dessie Belay of Ethiopia noted that effective and accountable implementation of the Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030 will also require good governance and peace. It was also noted that the issue of governance should be seen as a critical enabler since the achievement of the SDGs will depend on the capacity of institutions and public administrations to deliver effectively. The strengthening of human capacities has been discussed as one of the critical elements for the achievement of the continent’s key development objectives. Many felt that without the right set of competences among public officials, there can be no strong institutions and good governance. Mr. Yambesi, Commissioner of the Tanzanian Public Service Commission, has also emphasized the need to address capacity and career development, as well as staff performance aspects starting the lowest level of service delivery. There was a strong message that success hinges on the introduction of a strong institutional framework and a truly new paradigm of governance.
Finally, Minister Kameeta of Namibia has reminded everyone through his inspirational speech that people cannot be perceived as passive “receivers” of development. The role of the Government is to empower people to actively contribute to the design of policies that affect their lives. Through his own experience, he has highlighted what Governments can do to listen to the voices of the people and reach out to the furthest behind first, often in remote locations. Many participants have emphasized the importance of engagement and capacity development at the local level as the success will depend on whether the actions will be taken locally.
The meeting has provided a common space for the sharing of experiences among government officers leading work on the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 in their countries and for the introduction of cutting-edge tools and methodologies by countries and international partners. Several break-out sessions were organized to promote discussions and open dialogue on the challenges and good practices. International partners, including, UNITAR, OIF and UNDP had an opportunity to introduce some of the tools that have been developed to support the 2030 Agenda implementation at the country level during these sessions as well as dedicated plenary session at the end of the meeting. These included RBM 2.0 methodology, a range of technical support tools developed under the MAPS approach (Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA), Guidance Note for Developing National Development Plans that are Results-based and mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2063 and other frameworks), UNITAR’s learning toolkits on policy cycle and data ecosystems to be launched in early 2018, and OIF’s tools (SDG Targets Prioritization Grid: Tool for information and participatory prioritization of SDGs targets, Sustainable Development Analysis Grid: Systemic Analysis Tool for Sustainability, SDG Targets Prioritization Grid: Tool for information and participatory prioritization of SDGs targets .
The Symposium featured 7 thematic plenary sessions and multiple working groups. You can find the Symposium materials on the dedicated webpage.
90 participants from 36 African countries took part in the meeting. The meeting was also an opportunity for UNITAR to introduce and pilot some of the tools and materials for modules designed as part of the toolkits on “Policy cycle, integrated approaches and SDGs”, incl. the generic version and the version customized to the needs of the African Least Developed Countries. The first version of the toolkits will be published online in early 2018. This work was made possible thanks to the support from the Governments of Switzerland and Sweden and that of Agence Française du Développment.
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