Source: Small Island Developing States
May 2019: The 17 African countries scheduled to present voluntary national reviews (VNR) of SDG implementation in July 2019 have released the main messages of their forthcoming reports. The VNR reporting countries from the African Group are: Algeria; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; the Republic of the Congo; Côte d’ivoire; Eswatini; Ghana; Lesotho; Mauritania; Mauritius; Rwanda; Sierra Leone; South Africa; Tanzania; and Tunisia.
VNRs are presented at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) when it convenes under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) each July, to facilitate the sharing of national experiences in order to accelerate SDG implementation. The “main messages” of the VNRs are submitted ahead of time, and provide a brief overview of more comprehensive reports that are prepared by each national government.
This July, the HLPF will focus on ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality,’ and will review in-depth SDGs 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnership for the Goals).
Algeria’s main messages note that in 2016 the country set up an interministerial coordination committee under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to bring together national ministries and institutions to monitor and evaluate SDG implementation in the country. The government indicate that its VNR benefited from consultations with elected representatives, civil society organizations and the private sector through SDG awareness-raising workshops organized in partnership with the UN system. They report tangible results in a majority of the SDGs thanks to massive public investment, but lament a lack of data to cover all SDG indicators.
Cameroon’s messages note that “repeated attacks” by Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country, the flow of Central African refugees in the eastern region of the country, and the internal crisis in the northwest and southwest regions have had a negative impact on SDG achievement. They report on progress and challenges related to the implementation of Goals 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16. On SDG 4, despite a high increase in student enrolment, the country experienced poor effectiveness and low retention in schools. The document also highlights the need to include the SDGs in the government’s budget and to enhance statistical mechanisms.
The Republic of the Congo says its national development plan (NDP) 2018-2022 has prioritized 14 SDGs, 74 targets and 113 indicators, and notes its intention to develop a national strategy for the development of statistics. It adds that allocations for statistical capacity that amounted to USD4.7 million in 2015 are expected to reach USD27 million in 2030, and the government will integrate the cost of implementing the SDGs into that of the NDP. The main messages review progress on SDGs 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17, and point to major challenges on strengthening statistical capacity, coordinated civil society response, private sector involvement and resource mobilization.
Côte d’Ivoire’s main messages report that the country has: worked to include the SDGs in its National Development Plan and in sectoral and local policies; set up multi-stakeholder thematic groups; and developed and implemented a roadmap in an inclusive manner. They note the prioritization of 40 targets and the identification of 11 accelerators, including the 2019-2020 Government Social Program, which comprises 156 actions and measures. On challenges, the main messages outline strengthening social cohesion, making disaggregated data available, mobilizing finance, and adapting planning to SDG requirements.
Ghana says the SDGs have been integrated into its national development agenda and budget, and are being implemented through a decentralized planning system that allows for stakeholder participation. At the institutional level, the main messages note that a three-tier structure composed of a high-level ministerial committee, a multi-stakeholder implementation coordinating committee and a technical committee provide oversight and coordination for SDG implementation. They add that the Ghana audit service carries out SDGs-related assessments. The government highlights interlinkages between the SDGs, noting for instance that clean cookstoves (SDG 2), will reduce health risks (SDG 3), particularly for women (SDG 5), and create jobs (SDG 8) while positively affecting the climate (SDG 13) and terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 15). On data and monitoring, Ghana notes the development of a National Data for Sustainable Development Roadmap, the harnessing of administrative data to generate timely and disaggregated information for monitoring, and a reporting platform that provides disaggregated data.
South Africa reports challenges in securing a just transition to a low-carbon economy while being highly dependent on fossil fuels.
South Africa’s messages note the existence of a national coordinating mechanism for national engagements and reporting on the 2030 Agenda, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the National Development Plan (NDP). The messages further highlight progress on clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), electricity and access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all (SDG 7), education (SDG 4) and health (SDG 3), addressing gender inequalities (SDG 5), climate change (SDG 13), conserving the use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (SDG 14), integrated urban development (SDG 11), and science, technology and innovation (SDG 17). On major challenges, the government notes persistent high levels of inequalities, violence against women, discrimination, and securing a just transition to a low-carbon economy while being highly dependent on fossil fuels.
In its main messages, Tunisia says it has conducted a national consultation on the theme ‘the Tunisia we want,’ which contributed to a national definition of the SDGs. At the institutional level, the document notes the creation of a National Technical Committee led by the Ministry of Development, Investment and International Cooperation in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supported by SDG working groups within each ministry. Tunisia expects to increase efforts to raise SDG awareness and ownership, including through an SDG portal expected to provide information and comprise a discussion forum. On progress, it reports positive changes in the areas of gender equality, child mortality, health and access to school. It also reports challenges related to: reducing unemployment; economic recovery; school dropout rates and quality education; irregular migration; climate change impacts and water stress; and an energy sector based on fossil fuels.
African LDCs and LLDCs
Several of the African VNR countries are least developed countries (LDCs) and/or landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). Per its main messages, Burkina Faso (both LDC and LLDC) has “contextualized” the 2030 Agenda in its National Economic and Social Development Plan, which is operationalized through 14 sectoral policies and local development plans. Its VNR followed a participatory and inclusive process, the document notes, through consultations with “all stakeholders” at the national level. Reporting progress on SDGs 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16, the messages highlight the adoption of a national “multi-risk plan” for the prevention and management of disasters and humanitarian crises, and of a National Adaptation Plan for Climate Change. Among the countries key challenges are financial resource mobilization, insecurity, national statistical system capacity, energy supply, and socio-economic infrastructure.
The Central African Republic (LDC and LLDC) reports that 57.9% of the targets related to SDG 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17 align with the country’s Peacebuilding and Recovery Plan (RCPCA), based on a June 2018 “contextualization and prioritization” exercise. According to the main messages, the RCPCA’s implementation has allowed the country to make “modest progress” in the areas of education, economy and justice. However, further progress is needed to address: illicit financial flows that supply armed groups; crime; psychological and sexual violence; corruption; global warming; deforestation; soil degradation; and drought, among other issues.
Chad (LDC and LLDC) reports that its “Vision 2030, the Chad we want” encompasses its national development plan 2017-2021, which is aligned with 70% of the SDGs. It notes that the collapse of the oil price, the insecurity caused by Boko Haram and the 2016 presidential election have delayed SDG implementation. The main messages point to the creation, in 2018, of a coordination platform to contextualize and prioritize SDG targets and develop a roadmap. Among other challenges, it outlines insufficient data to monitor challenges, as well as a lack of financial resources to implement the national development plan.
Eswatini (LLDC) reports on SDG progress according to clusters: reducing poverty, inequality and vulnerability (SDGs 1, 2, 10); natural resources, climate change, and environmental sustainability (SDGs 6, 7, 12, 13, 14 and 15); human capital development (SDGs 3 and 4); good governance for prosperity, inclusive and sustainable growth (SDGs 8, 9, 16); and partnerships and collaborative efforts (SDGs 13 and 17). Each cluster outlines successes, challenges, and areas for support including on energy efficient technologies and other information and communication technologies (ICTs), research and development, data collection, resource mobilization and capacity building. Per its messages, Eswatini’s VNR report was derived from consultations with multiple stakeholders.
Lesotho (LDC and LLDC) says the 2030 Agenda is operationalized through its National Strategic Development Plan II (NSDP II) that goes to 2023, among other documents. At the institutional level, it notes the existence of a multi-level national coordination structure on sustainable development, including a National Oversight Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, different multi-stakeholder technical groups and a “parliamentary forum.” Per the main messages, preparation of the NSDP II and the VNR has been very inclusive through a multi-stakeholder consultation and a validation approach led by the government. As key priorities the messages cite addressing poverty and climate change, adding that HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis remain the biggest health challenges. On data, Lesotho says it has selected 152 SDG indicators, 53% of which have available data.
Mauritania (LDC) that its 2016-2030 Accelerated Growth and Shared Prosperity Strategy combines inclusive growth and targeted programmes to leave no one behind. It indicates that universal access to basic education has been improved in the last three years, and a national program of social transfers (‘Tekavoul’) will eventually cover the 100,000 poorest households by strengthening investment in human capital through a regular monetary transfer conditioned by education and health factors. On challenges, it outlines the need to: substantially increase resources allocated to the social sectors; set up a universal health insurance system; further encourage female entrepreneurship; strengthen security and biometric civil registration; and mobilize financial resources for SDG implementation.
Rwanda (LDC and LLDC) says it has integrated the Africa Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 and the SDGs into its draft Vision 2050, its National Strategy for Transformation (NST1, 2017-2024) and related strategies at different levels. It notes that its VNR preparation followed a consultative approach, and its review report provides information on progress, challenges and lessons learned related to Goals 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17 along five thematic areas: human capital development; inclusive economic growth; environment and climate change; good governance and access to justice; and strengthening the means of implementation, global partnership and data for the SDGs. On areas for support, it highlights the need for “significant external resources” to accelerate SDG achievement, and the need to support national statistical capacity both technically and financially, adding that it currently produces 60% of the required indicators.
According to its main messages, Sierra Leone (LDC) recently launched the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2019-2023 on ‘Education for Development,’ which is aligned to the AU Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. The country’s main messages provide an overview of initiatives related to SDGs 4, 8, 10, 16 and 17, including a technical consultation on SDG16+ for Anglophone African countries. The messages say the “premier development necessity” for Sierra Leone is basic, inclusive and quality education. The document also highlights financial challenges related to delivering the SDGs in the country. Sierra Leone presented its first VNR in 2016.
Tanzania (LDC) notes that the SDGs have been integrated into and are implemented through national medium-term plans, namely the National Five-Year Development Plan 2016-2021 in the Mainland, and the Zanzibar Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty 2016-2020. It reports that the VNR preparation process was participatory, and that a “robust” national SDG coordination and monitoring framework is being developed. On progress, it says: the country is doing “reasonably well” on Goals 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 and 16. In addition, Goals 7, 9, 11, 12 are likely to be achieved with stepped-up efforts. However, Goals 1, 13, 14, 15 and 17 will need “significant local efforts and international support” to be met. The main messages highlight that key challenges include data constraints for some indicators, and insufficient technical and financial resources for SDG implementation. The government also highlights needs related to resource mobilization and data management, strengthening national statistical capacity, and providing support for building appropriate technological capability.
The 17th African country that will present a VNR in 2019 is Mauritius, a small island developing State (SIDS). Main messages from the SIDS that will present VNRs in 2019 are summarized here.
Main messages from the 47 countries that will present their VNR in 2019 are available via the UN’s HLPF database. According to a list of questions and answers (Q&A) on VNRs issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), full VNR reports should be submitted by countries to the UN Secretariat by 14 June 2019.
This story is one a series on the main messages of countries that have volunteered to present their VNRs at the July HLPF.