Kenyan youths record low SDGs awareness levels

Kenya’s global development agenda Vision 2030 is expected to face challenges from low awareness levels of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among the youth in the country. A report by MK-Africa and Trends and Insights for Africa (TIFA), showed that the average awareness of the SDGs among university students in the Kenya is only 45 percent, compared to the global average of 54 percent. This concerning because the involvement of the youth is extremely important if Kenya wishes to achieve Vision 2030 and the SDGs. Please follow this link to read more about the low SDG awareness among Kenyan youth. 

 

Internet connectivity as a catalyst for sustainable development in Africa

Internet connectivity that is fast and reliable is one of the key elements in bringing together the social and economic factors of modern society. Therefore, broadband access is the vital to fast-track economic growth in East Africa’s and enabling its transition from a resourced-based to a knowledge-based economy. However, many communities in East Africa still do not have access to fast, reliable and affordable broadband services meaning that the communities cannot take advantage of the opportunities that exist in a knowledge-based economy. Addressing SDG 9 (building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation) of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) will improve infrastructure and access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and has the potential to create economic opportunities, lower costs and raise productivity. This can promote social and economic inclusion, ultimately contributing to shared prosperity and the achievement of the SDGs. Read more about ICT can aid in achieving the SDGs.

 

Science academy calls for STI policy reform to meet SDGs

The African Academy of Sciences has called for pressing reforms of the African national science, technology and innovation (STI) policies to enhance their focus on the social and environmental dimensions of development bringing them into alignment with the SDGs. This is a good effort, because most STI policies currently do not consider sustainable development priorities in their entirety. Instead, the STI policies concentrate on funding scientific research and emphasise technology development, procurement and innovation less. This may promote the creation of knowledge for short-term economic growth, but it does not provide incentives for social inclusion and environmental sustainability which are necessary for long-term sustainable development. Therefore, to promote the social inclusion and environmental sustainability necessary for long-term sustainable development, the African Academy of Sciences and other specialists should develop a comprehensive guide for scientists focusing on how science, technology and innovation in Africa could drive the achievement of the SDGs. Read more about the call to reform the STI policies by following this link.

 

Rwanda looks to deploy satellite tech to monitor process on SDGs

Rwanda is presently preparing to use satellite technology to monitor the implementation of the UN SDGs in the country. It is expected that satellite technology will provide a means to link various SDG activities, monitor goals and collect data globally and analyse it to help create informed policies regarding development activities. For more information please follow this link.

 

UN, North Africa Region Draft Roadmap for SDG Implementation

The annual meeting of the Sub Regional Coordination Mechanism for North Africa (SRCM) took place from 1-2 March 2018, in Jordan. Representatives from 24 United Nations organisations, international organisations and funding institutions also attended the meeting and discussed opportunities to increase understanding of the SDGs in the region. The participants agreed on a roadmap to support SDG implementation, and identified SDGs related to food security (SDG 2), gender (SDG 5), water and sanitation (SDG 6), energy (SDG 7), decent work (SDG 8), inequalities (SDG 10) and climate action (SDG 13) as priorities for the region. Please follow this link for more information regarding the roadmap to support SDG implementation.

 

Empower Women and Girls in Rural Areas to Achieve the SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063

The theme adopted by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women 62nd Session (CSW62), “Challenges and Opportunities in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”, is crucial for achieving the SDGs Agenda 2030 and Africa’s Agenda 2063. Women constitute more than fifty percent of Africa’s population with roughly eighty percent of women located in rural areas. Over 60% of women located in rural areas are employed in the agriculture sector. Therefore, CSW62 theme provides a good opportunity to identify the mechanisms to empower women and girls living in rural areas particularly when one considers the dire state of women’s rights in these areas, even though rural areas support African economies. This link offers more detail regarding the CSW62 theme and the SDGs in Africa.

 

AFRICA: HALTING DEFORESTATION - FROM ASPIRATION TO ACTION

20/02/2018

The amount of forest area destroyed in the world each year and the ultimate cost of this deforestation can hardly be measured. It has an impact extending far beyond the forest itself. Once the forests have disappeared, the integrity of the soil and water systems that they previously supported will be damaged, often permanently. Three-quarters of all freshwater for farms, industry and homes comes from forests and wetlands. In addition, forests also absorb more carbon than any other ecosystems, therefore, once they are destroyed, this carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere having a negative impact on the global climate. The negative impacts of deforestation for people and the environment are widespread and serious. The world will most likely fail to meet important global targets such as the SDGs if there is no correction in land use. Consequently, this will affect the actions required by the SDGs to eliminate hunger and poverty, preserve health and fight climate change as these rely heavily on the goods and services that forests provide.

The article in the link below discusses the implications of deforestation and how they affect the SDGs.

http://allafrica.com/stories/201802200869.html 

 

  

MOROCCO HOSTS 1ST SUMMIT OF WORLD MERIT COUNCILS

21/02/2018

The first edition of the World Merit Councils Summit opened at a polytechnic university near Marrakech, bringing together change-makers from around the world to discuss inclusive opportunities and ways to empower youth to build a better future. Over 150 young volunteers and professionals from 125 countries took part in debates focussing on the local and global actions needed to achieve the United Nations SDGs. World Merit is a global community of millennials, that aim to make a positive difference both locally and globally through programmes dedicated to the SDGs. To find out more about the summit, please follow the link to the relevant news article.

http://northafricapost.com/22357-morocco-hosts-1st-summit-world-merit-councils.html 

 

 

EAST AFRICA AIMS TO ELIMINATE HIV/AIDS, PREVENTABLE MATERNAL AND CHILD DEATHS BY 2030

22/02/2018

In a joint effort, East African leaders aim to eliminate HIV/AIDS, preventable maternal deaths and child deaths by 2030. To succeed, the leaders have committed themselves and their countries to building on the health of the East African Community (EAC) population. At a round table in Uganda, the Chairperson of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health and Minister of State Health, in the Republic of Uganda, Sarah Opendi, emphasised that poor health has hampered the region’s ability to attain the national and global socio-economic goals set out in the national development plans, Common Market Protocol, the EAC vision 2050 and the SDGs. To get more details of what was discussed at the round table, please follow the link below to the relevant news article.

https://www.independent.co.ug/east-africa-aims-eliminate-hiv-aids-preventable-maternal-child-deaths-2030/ 

 

 

DAY ZERO ON THE BACK OF DROUGHT IN SOUTHERN AFRICA: LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE

23/02/2018

The dramatic announcement of Day Zero (the day water is shut off completely) in Cape Town has sparked international interest, as Cape Town has now become the posterchild for drought in Southern Africa. Periods of drought have plagued the region for many years and the effects of El Niño, the most severe drought in 20 years are still felt today. One of the primary reasons for water scarcity in Africa is the lack of development of technology and processes that are applicable to solving today’s problems. Instead, people try “to solve 21st century problems with 20th century technology and solutions, using 19th century operating rules, standards, and guidelines”. This is evident in the Cape Town water crisis. The news article in the link below discusses more reasons for water scarcity in Africa and provides possible solutions that could aid in achieving SDG 6: clean water and sanitation.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2018/02/23/day-zero-on-the-back-of-drought-in-southern-africa-lessons-for-the-future/ 

 

 

NIGERIA CALLS FOR COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS WITH PRIVATE SECTOR ON FOOD SECURITY

24/02/2018

Adequate water, energy, food and ecosystems are vital elements for meeting basic human needs. Presently, each of these elements are under immense pressure as climate change is making it harder to access them, hence threatening food security, especially in Africa. Speaking at a one-day Consultative/Engagement workshop on Water, Energy, Food and Ecosystem (WEFE), in Abuja, Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Hassan Buka said that people in Africa are most at risk, if climate change is not dealt with effectively. Therefore, efficiently and sustainably managing water, energy, food and ecosystems will be critical to achieving most of the SDGs in Africa. To find out more about the WEFE workshop in Abuja, please follow the link to the relevant news article.

https://www.africaprimenews.com/2018/02/24/agriculture/nigeria-calls-for collaborative-efforts-with-private-sector-on-food-security

SDGs Realisation Key To Africa's Future – Pres Akufo-Addo Ghana

10 February 2018

https://www.modernghana.com/news/834196/sdgs-realisation-key-to-africas-future.html

President Akufo-Addo of Ghana has renewed the country’s commitment to adopting and implementing the seventeen SDGs. Speaking at a public lecture at the University of Ghana, where Queen Mathilde of Belgium was present, he emphasised that the 17 SDGs will present current generations with an opportunity to fight the social, environmental and economic issues that plague the continent. The president highlighted that Africa cannot grow out of poverty and achieve the SDGs through charity, in order to succeed, effective and appropriate development models must be adopted, business must be conducted differently and hard decisions must be made to fast-track inclusive growth in the economy.

 

Developing world cannot sustainably achieve same living standards as West, says study

5 February 2018

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/developing-world-west-living-standards-sustainable-products-luxury-africa-asia-us-south-america-a8195416.html 

 

A global study at the University of Leeds has found that it is not feasible for the entire population of the world to achieve the same high standards of living as in most Western countries because it would require six times the resources that the planet can sustainably provide. There is no country in the world that can meet the needs of its population without overusing resources. However, basic needs such as access to clean water and sanitation, access to electricity and food can be met for the world’s population if resources are used with restraint. In order to meet the basic needs of the world’s population, wealthy, developed nations need to reduce their resource use, while poorer, developing nations need to increase their resource use. The study also found that the UN’s 17 SDGs may undermine each other. For example, trying to achieve the highest level of wellbeing for the world’s population could have a negative effect on the efforts to fight climate change. Therefore, it is more sustainable overall for the world’s population to rather live a ‘good life’ within the planet’s limits than to achieve the highest level of wellbeing by overusing the planets resources which may have catastrophic consequences.

 

Figures of the week: Addressing barriers to development in Africa’s cities

9 February 2018

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2018/02/09/figures-of-the-week-addressing-barriers-to-development-in-africas-cities/ 

On Thursday, 11th of January, the Africa Growth Initiative at Brookings released its annual Foresight Africa report. It highlighted six key priorities for Africa in 2018. In the second chapter of the report, Sustainable financing for economic development, scholars discussed the urgent need to boost domestic resource mobilisation in Africa, especially because the continent’s rapidly expanding and growing cities require greater public capital investment. This article discusses the infrastructure and financing constraints facing African cities and identifies opportunities to promote sustainable development in the rapidly urbanising region, addressing SDG 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities).

 

How corrupt local officials kill decent education in Africa

11 February 2018

https://theconversation.com/how-corrupt-local-officials-kill-decent-education-in-africa-91251 

The education systems in many African countries are in trouble. Although there has been substantial investment and some improvements in the education systems linked to the drive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, children in large parts of Africa are not being taught sufficiently and lack the necessary knowledge needed to proceed through the school system. It is argued that there must be better training for teachers, more funds must be invested and central governments must act, rightly so. However, it is important to note the quality of local governments also play a role, as they are closer to communities and they are often in charge of the distribution of goods and services. With regards to education, this would mean textbooks and furniture. This implies that local governant can have a positive or negative effect on the quality of educational resources in a community and indirectly on the performance of the children.

A study conducted on public schools across many African countries found that corrupt behaviour by local government increased the probability that schools would lack necessary resources (for example textbooks), have poor infrastructure and poor teaching quality among other things. This finding stood irrespective of how much money a country’s central government had invested in education.

If Africa is genuine about achieving the Sustainable Development Goal related to education, it must fight corruption in local governments as corruption has a negative impact on education.

 

The Role of Sustainable Development in Preventing the Relapse of Conflict in Africa

12 February 2018

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/02/12/instability-development-role-sustainable-development-preventing-relapse-conflict-africa/

Three troubling patterns regarding the occurrence and reoccurrence of civil wars exist. Firstly, once a country experiences one civil war, it is highly likely to experience additional incidents of violence. Secondly, reoccurring civil wars are now the main form of armed conflict in the world. Thirdly, civil wars are increasingly concentrated only in a few, mainly poverty-stricken regions of the world. The relationship between conflict and poverty has been detailed many times. Although there are a few exceptions, where there is conflict in a region, there is often poverty which acts to bring about conflict in various ways. Poverty leads to social issues such as unemployment, which in turn leads to youths being attracted to violent groups for example, rebel militia or terrorist groups, because they have no incentive to be good, law-abiding citizens. These violent groups capitalise on local conditions by offering imagined solutions to the issues in the region. Violent groups thrive in regions where there are constantly issues. Thus, in order to tackle conflict and promote sustainable peace, the best solution is to address the social and economic issues in the region. Central governments, regional committees (for example SADC) and NGOs must focus on sustainable development in order to hinder the occurrence or reoccurrence of conflict in a region by providing solutions to the social and economic issues, all of which can be achieved through implementing the SDGs.

** This article was originally published by The Conversation Africa. It was written by Willem Fourie. The original article is available here.

  

African policymakers need access to high quality evidence to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) successfully. The SDGs are arguably the most broad-ranging development goals to be ratified by United Nations member states. Their overall aim is to “leave no one behind” by 2030.

Evidence based research proved key to meeting some of the goals that preceded the SDGs. This was particularly the case for meeting goals related to diseases such as HIV and Aids and malaria. According to UNAIDS, increased research output and better linkages between researchers and policymakers were important for reaching targets set under the Millennium Development Goals.

And yet linking African policymakers with the sort of research that’s relevant for implementing goals is difficult. This is not a problem unique to implementing development goals. But the broad ambition of the SDGs has made identifying and addressing barriers more urgent.

There are at least six main barriers to the use of research in policymaking. These are the complexity of evidence, absence of personal relationships between researchers and policymakers, the time it takes to do quality research, the perceived irrelevance of research, a lack of analytical capacity within governments, and budget constraints.

There’s no silver bullet to overcoming these barriers. But building strong relationships between researchers and policymakers is a good place to start.

The big six

Complexity of evidence: Researchers assume that peer-reviewed journal articles are the most important form of evidence. This isn’t always the case. Policymakers rely on different types of evidence, such as practical experience and political know-how.

But even using one form of evidence isn’t that easy. Peer-reviewed research often comes from competing sources with varying methodologies, perspectives and ideologies.

Absence of personal relationships: Personal contact between researchers and policymakers is important. Strong personal relationships are important for the uptake of research evidence. Their absence is seen as a key barrier.

Weak relationships have an impact on the relevance and even timeliness of research. The absence of strong relationships contributes to researchers often not knowing what the needs and challenges in governments are. A study on research based decision making in South Africa found that technical and exclusive terminology got in the way of research evidence being used. Terminology that excludes non-academic partners weakens relationships between researchers and policymakers as it effectively excludes them from the knowledge creation process.

Not enough time: Peer-reviewed research is time consuming. This partly explains why research time frames are often at odds with the urgency with which policymakers need to address and respond to challenges in their environment. Lengthy research processes are often identified as a barrier to the use of research evidence in policymaking.

Irrelevant research: A further barrier inherent to the research process is the perceived absence of research that is relevant to policymakers. This perception is more about how research is communicated than what it’s about. The conventions of academic writing at times obscure the practical relevance of research. This is why it’s important to develop actionable messages for decision makers. Actionable in the sense that researchers can suggest ways in which their findings can be implemented.

Lack of analytical capacity: A study done on Canada’s public service highlighted the lack of analytical capacity among government workers as a barrier to the update of research evidence. Some policymaking institutions don’t have the analytical capacity to respond adequately to challenges including time pressures and the sheer volume of evidence available to them.

Budget constraints: Policy makers also face budgetary constraints. Evidence-based policy interventions can be very expensive.

Overcoming the barriers

A good response to research barriers within policymaking circles would be to include building relationships that are based both on expertise and mutual respect.

Researchers must focus on building expertise as well as sharing research through networking and partnerships. Building relationships between researchers and policymakers must go hand-in-hand with gathering research evidence. Strong relationships will lead to language being used that everyone can understand as well as productive partnerships. They might even improve academic responsiveness, and lead to better and more usable results.

It’s no surprise that the UN’s 2030 Agenda emphasises the importance of creating partnerships. It is now understood that the use of research evidence in the implementation of development goals isn’t merely a technical processes.