MDGs, a foundation for post-2015 agenda – Resident Coordinator

23 July 2014

Launch of the report

The Resident Coordinator of the United Nations system in Nigeria, Mr Daouda Toure has emphasised that the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) constitute the foundation for the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. He explained that member States of the United Nations (UN), including Nigeria, are in discussions to define sustainable development goals, to serve as a core of a Universal post 2015 Agenda.  

Mr Toure made this emphasis at the regional launch of the MDG Report 2014 organised by and held at the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, just as the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-moon noted at the global launch of the report in New York that sustained progress towards the MDGs in the remaining year is essential to provide a solid foundation for the post-2015 development agenda.

Launch of the report

The regional launch which was attended by over 190 participants comprising of seven Television Channels, five Radio Stations, six National Dailies, representatives of six Secondary Schools, twenty Non-Governmental Organizations and six UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds including the UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM, UNAIDS, UNODC and WHO, also featured an interactive session and a drama presentation by the students of Lagos State model college, Kankon, Badagry. 

Represented by the Economic Advisor, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Abuja, Ms Colleen Zamba, the Resident Coordinator urged development partners to continue the fruitful collaboration which would help Nigeria take meaningful and transformative steps needed to accelerate progress to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

In his address, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) represented by the Director of Economic Planning and Development, Lagos State Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget, Mr. Seun Akinsanya, said that the State was committed to improving and strengthening its MDGs performances. 

Earlier, the Senior Public Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Ms Envera Selimovic, welcomed the participants to the Centre while the President, Strategy for Mentoring Initiative & Leadership Empowerment (S.M.I.L.E), Mrs Bimpe Bamgbose-Martins (BBM) spoke on "The role of youths in MDG acceleration beyond 2015". The National Information Officer, UNIC Lagos, Oluseyi Soremekun, provided an overview of the MDG Report 2014 including the MDG progress chart on Nigeria.

The Governor and the Resident Coordinator jointly launched the report.

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#BringBackOurGirls echoes at MDG Report 2014 regional launch in Lagos

15 July 2014

Students performing

The clamour for the save return of over 200 school girls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents at Chibok, Borno State, North-East Nigeria, on 14 April, 2014, was further reinforced during the regional launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report 2014 held at the UN Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, as the students of Lagos State Model College, Kankon Badagry, in their drama presentation at the occasion, creatively displayed “Bring Back Our Girls” graphics which elicited a supportive expression from the audience.

“We are your daughters, mothers and leaders of tomorrow. We are born equal. ‘Boko’ is not ‘Haram’ (Education is not forbidden)”, they added in graphics. 

The students’ presentation titled, ‘One Goal’ was a dance drama interspersed with poetic renditions of the gains of the MDGs. Obviously enjoying the performance, the participants sang along and applauded the students intermittently as they sang, danced and acted simultaneously. It was electrifying and instructive. What an ‘infortainment’!

The UN in Zambia holds Discussion Forums on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

28 June 2014

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) addressed the fact that not enough recognition had been given to some of the world’s main development challenges: poverty reduction, education, maternal health, gender equality, child mortality, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The MDGs were instrumental in mobilizing the international development community around simple, clear and measurable goals. Shortfalls however, have occurred not because the MDGs are unreachable, or because time is too short, but due to unmet commitments, inadequate resources and a lack of focus and accountability. Now with a fast-approaching deadline to achieve MDGs by 2015, a strong consensus is emerging on the need for a bold and inspiring ‘Post-2015 Development Agenda’ that is measurable in both theory and practice, for effective implementation, monitoring and accountability of development delivery.  

The first round of the global consultations in 2013, including in Zambia, were focused on the issues to be included in the Post-2015 Agenda, hence addressed the “what”.  The dialogue organized under the auspices of the UN Country Team, ensured an active engagement of the government representatives, policy makers, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and young people across Zambia, with results which put Quality Education as the number one priority. This outcome saw the education sector get a boost in budget for 2014, and also guided the Zambia’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) to form a task-team to work further on preparing the country’s vision/position on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The task-team comprises of the Government of the Republic of Zambia, private sector, civil society and the UN. Globally, the national consultations provided substantive inputs to the Post-2015 processes, influencing key reports such as the SG’s High Level Panel on Post-2015 and the SG’s report on the MDGs and the Post-2015 Agenda: A Life of Dignity for All.

The initiative is now in its second round, focusing more on concrete ways of making the Post-2015 Agenda a reality by addressing the “How”. Continuing an inclusive dialogue on Post-2015 is an appeal by many young Zambians, who expressed a strong desire for continued avenues for consultation and engagement. It is also the mandate given to the UN by Member States; the Outcome Document of the UNGA68 Special Event on the MDGs and Post-2015  states: “In arriving at an inclusive and people-centered Post-2015 Development Agenda, we look forward to a transparent intergovernmental process which will include inputs from all stakeholders including civil society, scientific and knowledge institutions, parliaments, local authorities, and the private sector as governments count on the strong support of the UN system throughout all of its work.

The United Nations in Zambia conducted a district wide consultative dialogue program on the Post-2015 Development agenda from June 22, 2014 to June 28, 2014. Under the roadshows and the dialogues, 5000 people from different representations took part in the Participatory, Monitoring and Accountability dialogues which included Civil society groups, senior government officers, high schools and communities in Kitwe, Ndola and Kabwe

These meeting are in line with the first round of consultation on Post-2015 Agenda undertaken last year which focused on the issues to be included in the post-2015 agenda  highlighting the need for better health facilities, more employment opportunities , a more responsive and caring government among other issues hence it addressed the ‘what’. 

However, the second round of discussion was focused more on concrete ways of making the Post-2015 Agenda a reality by addressing the ‘How’, therefore through the discussions  with the different stakeholders answers would be provided.  The groups answered a set of questions as a way of trying to find out their level of participation in the development agenda, it was discovered that many of the people are never consulted in the development agenda as a result felt left out, this in the process made it difficult for them monitor and make their leaders accountable with the various resources entrusted to them.

In the discussion with CSOs many issues emerged they alluded to the fact that they knew about the existence of development plans, but they never got involved in the process this made it difficult for them to participate in monitoring all developmental projects and plans. They also lacked information on development plans and projects and therefore, they could not give feedback to the government. They reiterated that there was need by the government to involve the civil society development plans and to engage participatory governance.  A bottom up kind of flow of information would motivate people’s participation in local debate and this would provide effective monitoring and accountability.

Regarding the MDGs, most of the youth talked to were unfamiliar with the MDGs and their wider implications in national development. Most young people think the MDGs are for the United Nations and the government and by extension didn’t know who is responsible for achieving the MDGs.  The youth pointed out that Government should therefore create a platform for consultation on developmental issues among the youth in order for them to be actively involved in molding the future because participatory monitoring and accountability is the only tool that is able to push for policy change in the way implementation of developmental projects are done.

The parliamentarians and councilors during their own deliberations, said although they were aware of the district plans they did not know them and were not actively involved in the process of planning, other than the implementation stage.  They agreed that information should be made available to all stakeholders to foster development; the availability of information enables the stakeholders and key policy makers to give necessary feedback on the matters of development and the plans for development.  

In order to achieve the ‘How’ of the Post -2015 agenda, the challenges that are being faced should be resolved. All stakeholders should be actively involved the development planning as well as the developmental projects and should not see the Post-2015 Agenda as independent of their core business but must be their core business; young people should change their views and start seeing themselves as changers and key contributors to national development.  There must be available data on MDGs as well as the Post-2015 Agenda readily available for all and all stakeholders must be well educated on the matter at hand in order for them the participatory monitoring and accountability to work. It is widely acknowledged that participatory, monitoring and accountability can bring a comparative advantage in undertaking developmental projects relating to providing inclusive and transparent practices which will change habits and promote monitoring of developmental projects.

UNIC Lusaka World Environment Day: Activity in Brief World Environment Day 2014

05 June 2014

Tree planting

On 5 June, Zambia joined the rest of the world in commemorating the world environment day whose theme is “Raise your Voice not Greenhouse Gases and Protect Environment”.  A number of activities were conducted around the country and the main event in Lusaka was a tree planting exercise in various locations which saw the participation of various government ministries, including senior government officers such as the Secretary to Cabinet Dr. Roland Msiska at Levy Mwanawasa Hospital which marked the official event World Environment Day and launch of Zambia’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations. The United Nations in Zambia, Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and the United Nations Youth Association of Zambia (YUNA-Zambia) joined the Ministry of Transport Works Supply and Communications, at the newly built National Heroes Stadium.

Blessings Sinkala who is the YUNA Child Ambassador in her remarks, stated that the presence of Ministry representatives and all the stakeholders was a testimony to the importance of the good relations between the Zambian Government, youths and the stakeholders such as the United Nations and Standard Chartered Bank, in sharing responsibility to unite and Combat Climate Change. 

She further raised a concern on the increment of Electricity Tariffs by the national utility company ZESCO at 24% for households, stating that it would cause the increase of charcoal production that will lead to massive deforestation in the country, furthermore, she encouraged everyone to stay focused in line with our visions such as vision 2030 which aims Zambia to become a middle income country and attaining the MDGs by 2015.

Mr. Excellent Hachileka who was representing the United Nations, highlighted issues on the climate change policy, he said Zambia is losing its forests due to human activities such as unsustainable agricultural practices and deforestation, he said currently the country is losing 250 000 to 300 000 hectares’ of forest per year which will result in others parts of Zambia turning into deserts if left unchecked.

Standard Chartered Bank Zambia Director Mrs. Musonda reiterated that as a private entity was committed to issues of the environment hence its participation and partnership in noble causes like that of planting trees with the United Nations and Government. She further said that they would continue to support national tree planting exercises when called upon.

The Hon. Minister of Transport, Works Supply and Communications Mr. Yamfwa Mukanga MP in his remarks gave a brief background on the world environment day from its beginning, he shared with the gathering that the tree planting was also the part of Golden Jubilee as Zambia celebrates its 50 years of independence. Mr. Mukanga agreed that the Ministry under his charge has contributed to deforestation in the country as the government pushes infrastructure development through activities such as new roads and new buildings across the country, he said despite this the ministry is very committed to replanting trees that are cut down during the development activities as a mitigative measure to climate change. 

The Minister urged every Zambian to involve themselves in tree planting exercises, and he thanked the United Nations, Standard Chartered Bank Zambia, YUNA-Zambia and schools that participated in the exercise, over a 100 trees were planted.