Nearly two years have passed since world leaders announced a replacer framework of the Millennium Development Goals, termed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the 2015 United Nations Summit in New York. The SDGs were formulated on an overarching principle of “Leave No One Behind” through crosscutting global consultations in what many have since referred to as the most transparent and inclusive process in the United Nations (UN) history. As the SDGs take a steering position for global development, demonstrating efforts to domesticate and translate the agenda into tangible change for citizens in-country remains a critical task for the 193 United Nations member states.
The UN will hold its High Level Political Forum (HLPF) for member states to jointly follow up on implementation of the SDGs from July 10-19, 2017 in New York. The theme of the HLPF is “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”with a focus on reviewing advancement on six goals namely; 1,2,3,5,9 and 14 as well as the foundational goal 17 on partnerships for development. Currently, over 31 countries globally have volunteered to be part of the national review of progress on the SDGs compliance as did Uganda in July 2016. Beyond volunteering its participation in the UN 2016 readiness review, the government of Uganda has continued to strengthen structures such as the SDG coordination framework led by four key government entities namely; the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Finance, the National Planning Authority, and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics to support implementation of the 2030 agenda in-country. This has mainly been through deliberate efforts to align the agenda with national development policies, data, and financing as demonstrated by entities such as the National Planning Authority which showcased alignment of the SDGs into the National Development Plan at 69% in the Uganda SDG Readiness Report 2016 with continued efforts to trickle this down to sector and district level.
Promoting participation of other actors and tapping into voices that often left out is critical for Uganda within these initial stages of implementing the SDGs. Civil society organizations in Uganda have come out strongly to champion the inclusivity agenda as part of supporting sustainable partnerships for SDGs at community, regional and national levels. The Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF), a CSO coordination platform has sought opportunities to mobilize CSOs and community level actors to participate in national level SDG processes through campaigns such as Tondeka Mabega and continuous dialogue meetings with development partners, government, and community leaders.
On April 25, UNNGOF organized a preparatory meeting for CSOs to reflect and harmonize their positions on key issues within global and in-country SDG processes to inform upcoming opportunities such as the HLPF where Uganda will be represented. The meeting was attended by over 50 CSO representatives at sub-national and national levels and provided a space for CSOs to track efforts on domestication of the SDGs and refine actions to support the process through the SDG Technical Working Groups.
During the meeting, CSOs reflected on practical steps through which they would jointly generate a report on the SDGs. All partners agreed to share updates on the six goals under review at the HLPF through which common positions would be drawn. With leadership from the 2030 Agenda Core Reference Group, partner CSOs would be availed an opportunity to contribute to SDG process focusing on communication and participation, financing, coordination, planning and data. The 2030 Agenda Core Reference Group will continue working with government to create a functional framework for implementation and monitor progress on key commitments within the SDGs at country level.