The Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs which provides for seventeen identified goals kicked off formally on January 1, this year, with clear objectives to continue where the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs left off, albeit with limited success.
The seventeen identified areas are not by any estimation different from the MDG’s eight strategic goals, which aims to reduce poverty by half, increase schools enrolment and improve maternal mortality and engage international partnerships for achieving the goals by developing the capacities of nations.
From the start, it was clear that little successes would be recorded by the MDGs based on the top-to-bottom approach employed in the implementation of the United Nations plan of action, which were faulted by even the expected beneficiaries in the states and local levels in Nigeria, across most African Countries and in other parts of the world.
This and many other reasons led to a rethink during review meetings called by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in 2013. Several countries muted the idea to either end the MDGs as it lacked commensurate results, or review the methodology with a view to instilling a new Bottom-Up approach. In September 2015, the UN member states adopted new strategies of sustainable development goals, which requires the key players in the states and local communities to own and protect the projects, for global sustainability.
Specifically, the seventeen goals hope to ensure an end to poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, gender equality, clean water, affordable clean energy, decent work, reduced inequalities, industry innovation and infrastructure, sustainable cities and communities, climate change action, peace, justice and strong institutions, as well as enduring partnerships to achieve the 169 set targets.
Major challenges to the implementation of the objectives, include the global financial recession, which implies that the quantum of funds hitherto available to finance the MDGs implementation strategy, have shrunk dramatically and thus unlikely to be available over the next fifteen years for the SDGs.
There is also the low prices in sale of crude oil and other commodities in the international market, which means dwindling resources for most African nations which depend on such products for income to finance the SDGs. The reality has already pushed many African and mono-product dependent countries to seek alternative sources of revenues, not just to sustain their economies but also to finance their national SDG commitments.
Another issue of note is the impact of climate change on the target beneficiaries, with its attendant variables and consequences on livelihoods, environments and climatic conditions for people in Africa and other parts of the world.
Indeed, at the just concluded energy summit in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, stated that sustainable energy can save millions of lives. The UN Scribe therefor set the ball rolling with the appointment of a 17-man eminent persons group, to execute a robust advocacy campaign to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. The SDG advocacy group has Ghana’s President, John Dramani Mahama and Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, as co-Chair.
Other eminent world leaders, as well as business and political leaders and prominent academics will join President Mahama and Prime Minister Solberg to promote the universal sustainable development agenda and raise awareness among stakeholders, on the integrated nature of the SDGs. In Africa, countries that performed better in implementing the MDGs like Angola, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal, are expected to do more this time around.
Undoubtedly, the financial realities in individual countries would be at the centre of all realistic policies, especially in terms of finance-sourcing measures to fund the ambitious SDGs. Be that as it may, everybody must be part of the solution. In this regard, populations in different countries of the world will have to save on electricity use at home and in the work place; adopt basic ICTs to solve manual problems or invest in items that will promote sustainability in the world.
For now, commitment is in abundance, with the UN leading the way. All that remains is the political and popular will, as well as the means to accelerate the implementation strategy to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, as spelt out in the UN SDGs.