African Sustainable Development Forum 2017

Africa and the SDGs – How can Africa Effectively Implement the SDGs?

The Inaugural African Sustainable Development Forum – 2nd and 3rd March, 2017
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

The Plenary

The topic of the plenary will be the topic of the event:

“Africa and the SDGs – What will it take for Africa to effectively implement the SDGs?”

The aim of the plenary is to deliberate and develop an Africa agenda for implementing the SDGs, generally and especially as they relate to the four thematic clusters.  A distinguished guest will deliver the keynote address, speaking of the challenges of implementing the SDGs in Africa (financing, institutional arrangements, partnerships, policy harmonisation, phasing, differential prioritisation, regional coordination, etc.)  and broadly about the four cluster themes identified. Following the keynote address, an eminent panel of decision-makers and opinion-leaders will be invited to provide more detailed remarks; each panellist will be invited to remark on a specific question (see below). The plenary will then welcome contributions and questions from the floor.

The remarks to be made are as follows:

  • How should Africa approach the SDGs?
    For the Continent the major challenge is whether it is able to realistically reach all of the SDG targets. How can Africa respond to this challenge?  
  • Are there issues specific to Africa that are not adequately addressed by the SDGs? How can efforts and commitments to the implementation of the SDGs be maintained in today’s turbulent world?
    The current world is a stormy place. A serious refugee crisis is unfolding alongside civil wars and global terrorism. Each of these challenges have the potential to undermine progress in meeting SDG targets, and each requires significant resources to address which may ‘compete’ with resources available for the implementation of SDGs globally, and in Africa. Furthermore, the SDGs and the Agenda 2063 contain differences, how can the issues that are important to Africa compliment the SDGs?
  • What lessons must be learned from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)?
    MDG performance was, with several lessons that can and should be learned from the stronger performers, both in the overall MDG targets and with specific goals and targets. What can be learned from the stronger performers? One of the major challenges of the SDGs will be the logistical challenges of monitoring. SDSN estimates that, for monitoring alone, it will cost 1 Billion USD per year for the next 15 years for 77 low-income countries to bring their statistical systems to adequate levels, and that even in the most advanced countries it could take up to two years to compile all of the statistical data required for monitoring the SDGs. To complicate monitoring further, the SDGs focus on the ‘quality’ of change… How can this be measured to allow for broad and consistent comparison and tracking? Beyond monitoring, what other ‘best practices’ can be drawn from the MDGs?

The four Thematic break-out Sessions

ASDF is organised around four thematic clusters reflecting the cross-cutting challenges that affect Africa, which the SDGs are seeking to resolve.  The thematic clusters will have two presentations each. The first will be geared toward the global outlook, trends, theories, and emerging policies. The second presentation will focus specifically on the African context. The presentations will stimulate discussion about Africa can contribute to global efforts, as well as provide sustainable solutions for her citizens. The four themes are:

  • Africa’s Development Question and the Eradication of Poverty by 2030;
    The issue of poverty is one that is both absolute and relative, and so encompasses inequality. Poverty is understood in its broadest sense, in that it relates to the ability of individuals and communities to meet their basic needs (food, health, water, education, shelter, clothing, and dignity), as well as access to public goods and services. Poverty, in any and all of its forms, is the single biggest deterrent to economic development and transformation. Overcoming poverty remains the highest priority on the Continent – How will the drive to meet the SDG objectives alleviate and eradicate poverty in Africa? 
  • The Education, Health and Nutrition Goals and Targets;
    “Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more” (World Health Organisation). In a globalised world, public health is emerging as a critical issue that cannot simply be confined to individuals or small communities – the Ebola crisis was a stark reminder of this global reality. Similarly, nutrition remains a challenge, with its adverse effects ranging from stunted growth and mental development, to the rise in non-communicable diseases. Together, these issues require holistic solutions that cut across various sectors (ranging from social services, to agriculture and food security). Education too has an important role to play, both in its own right and as part of the broader social welfare of the community, and the continent as a whole.
  • Governance and Women’s & Children’s Human Rights;
    Governance is a complex and far-reaching issue. It refers to the institutions (formal and informal) that ascribe roles, responsibilities, and authority – and their workings. Necessarily, governance concerns questions of equity, fairness, and access to justice, the rule of law, peace and security, anti-corruption, illicit financial flows, citizen engagement and participation, public administration, corporate citizenship and democracy. Governance is critical to sustainable development and transformation, both in terms of the management of resources, but also to ensure that all citizens’ Rights are safeguarded. As Africa modernises, how do we want to be governed? How do we protect and prepare our youth and children? What progress are we making towards realising gender equality?
  • Resource Requirements and Mobilisation
    Financing for the SDGs in Africa will require marshalling resource both on and off the continent. What are the challenges and how can they be overcome to ensure appropriate, timely, and coordinated mobilization of resources across the continent? What strategies and opportunities exist and need to be considered and maximized to generate the necessary resources domestically, regionally, and globally? What can and should the role of domestic and private resources be, and what frameworks will encourage and enable business to contribute to SDG implementation on the continent? What new and emerging partnerships such as blended finance, private-public partnership, and others, exist and what lessons can be drawn from cases that have used them to ensure their effectiveness?