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Africa CSO Working Group members have been key in SDG implementation at national level (through initiating and strengthening SDG fora as well as targeted engagement with policy makers. At the regional level AWG members have been instrumental in shaping and influencing the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development; strengthening integration of SDGs, Agenda 2063 and MAPs; creating spaces for constant engagement with African policy makers on the SDG and Agenda 2063. On the basis of these engagements, some of the emerging issues of importance during the HLPF and beyond include;
1. Issues to consider in ensuring that SDG Implementation and Monitoring and Review is citizen driven and leaves no one is left behind
- Monitoring and review at all levels should be based on key principles of transparency, accountability, equity and participation of all citizens.
- At the regional level monitoring and review platforms such as APRM, Africa Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRSD) as well as AU Human rights bodies should be key and these should be strongly linked to national and global reviews.
- Monitoring and review reports (including at the HLPF) should include people centred and citizen generated evidence and data, and co-existence of qualitative and quantitative data to generate useful insights. Both official reports and shadow reports should have space for this.
- Fair financing and investment in mechanisms that identifies, support and capacitate those left behind (in their various forms). It’s not enough to just count them and have data on them. Increase and improve public investment in good-quality and equitable essential services and implement universal coverage of essential services through equitable mechanism that meet the needs of marginalised groups first.
- Translating the principle of ‘Leave no one behind’ and aspiration of the SDGs will require concrete action and targeted policies to tackle drivers of inequality. Equal treatment should be ensured in order to address discriminatory policies, norms and behaviours. Discriminatory barriers to services, including discriminatory laws and policies must be removed.
- For SDG implementation and monitoring and review to foster data revolution, there is need for changing mind-sets of statisticians and statistical offices to do business unusual. CSOs advocacy including evidence and data collection and use is key in driving this change.
- Need to look at various laws that govern the establishment and work of statistical offices and the national statistical systems. We may need to directly ask some of the countries at the HLPF in terms of how many have reformed or are in the process of reforming statutes governing their national statistical systems and offices to reflect this.
- UN agencies and development partners should not overload countries with too many tools as they have a lot already. Focus should be on systematising and rationalizing the tools and making it simple for countries. This will also make reporting easy. Incentives should be realigned away from reports and reporting to focus more on monitoring and making transparent results of actions to lead to transformation.
- A global partnership for sustainable development data established though an intergovernmental process at the UN and as captured in the Secretary-General’s report on the post-2015 development agenda will be key in strengthening capacity of African statistical systems, providing the necessary capacity to key stakeholders in the national statistical systems as well as promote overall ownership on SDG implementation.
2. Multi-stakeholder partnerships
- These need to be institutionalized and we believe that having multi-stakeholder SDG fora is the way to go. AWG has supported constitution of these in different forms in different countries and in most countries still at formative stages.
- These should not just be about meetings but should be the starting point of monitoring and review. Different stakeholders should have specific roles and should be held accountable for delivering their commitments on specific issues. Above all these platforms should be fora for deep and meaningful conversation on development and not just box ticking.
- In some countries such as Tanzania and Cameroon, AWG members are championing development of monitoring and accountability/review framework for benchmarking purposes.
- There is need for all stakeholders to work on evidence, data and statistical systems that ensure people and civil society is fully integrated in the process. This means that at the national levels there is need for open statistical systems that is simple enough and engages everyone in terms of data use and support. Those left behind are normally not counted or known and simplifying the data and statistical systems will be key in leaving no one behind.
- The multi-stakeholder platforms should not leave anyone behind by ensuring active involvement of private sector, government (including key ministries dealing with Agenda 2063 as well as social, economic and environmental aspects of SDGs), civil society, and all the marginalized and often left behind groups such as women, youths, children, older persons, people with disabilities, ethnic minorities etc. This is also important in ensuring an integrated agenda that combines social, economic and environment.
- Capacity building for key players including civil society should be deliberate and key to ensure the whole (multi-stakeholder platform) achieves more than the sum of its parts
- Shared values and clear role allocation based on strengths of all stakeholders should be clearly articulated to promote ownership and achievement of right results.
- Governments must provide space for the meaningful input and participation of excluded groups in accountability process. Progress reports should be open, inclusive and participatory in a way that it supports the active and meaningful engagement of citizens.
3. Integration of SDGs and Agenda 2063
- For those of us in Africa, an integrated agenda is not just about the economic, environmental and social aspects but also integrating the SDGs with Agenda 2063 as well as with the realities and aspirations of African citizens
- Preliminary work on integrating SDGs and Agenda 2063 has been done by our members (mostly Kenya SDG Forum). More work is underway.
4. Challenges and opportunities for AWG in SDG Implementation to date
- Multiple initiatives, tools and multiple contact points within government departments which increases coordination challenges and hence engagement with CSOs.
- Uneven levels of integration of both SDGs and Agenda 2063 and their domestication at national level.
- Some policy makers and government departments (such as environment and statistical offices) are left behind due to the above coordination challenges.
- Some discrepancies between the deliberations and decisions made at the UN and AUC levels and the implementation of these decisions at national and grassroots level.
- Shrinking CSO space at various UN and AU platforms.
- Access to disaggregation of data and information for constructing baselines remains a key challenge.
- Business as usual.
- National Statistical Systems at times are not well coordinated.
In-spite of the above challenges, the following opportunities are being pursued by AWG members at the various levels;
- Opportunity for CSOs to strengthen national statistical systems through increasing use, providing feedback as well as demand for certain type of data.
- Work closely with champion Member States which can showcase the effective implementation and monitoring of both frameworks while being driven by the principle of leave no one behind.
- Alignment of data production and consumption through increasing use and consumption at national and regional levels.
- Strengthening robust regional accountability mechanisms through participation in APRM, and other processes.
- Significant goodwill by policy makers at national, regional and global levels to engage.