KEYNOTE SPEECH BY MR. SAMUEL ZAN AKOLOGO – EXECUTIVE SECRETARY OF CARITAS GHANA ON 7TH DECEMBER, 2015 – LUXEMBOURG ON THE OCASSION OF EUROPEAN YEAR FOR DEVELOPMENT AND LUXEMBOURG PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPEAN UNION.
Mr Daniele Weber – Moderator of this session
Presidents of Caritas Luxembourg and Cercle des ONGD Luxembourg – Marie-Josee Jacobs and Armand Drews respectively
Colleague Speaker – Dr. Imme Scholz
Colleague Activists of civil society and the Caritas confederation
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here and to be part of this important discourse as part of the framework of the European Year for Development and Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of European Union in 2015. Thank you Madam Christine Dahm of Cercle de Cooperation and Caritas Luxembourg for your kind invitation.
The Sustainable Development Goals were the principal reason and thus constitute the content of the Special United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in September this year 2015. The outcome document – Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development expresses global commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We recall that they were adopted on 25th September, 2015 by world leaders from 193 countries without a single dissention and the usual diplomatic hassle and tussle. One opinion is that the differences were neatly ironed out during the long and broad consultative process by the Open Working Group that proposed the 17 goals and perhaps consensus was further deepened by the equally long Intergovernmental Negotiations in New York from January to August, 2015. Be as it may, the overwhelming endorsement of the Declaration and the 17 SDGs was an indication of the responsibility to act! Implementation is at the heart of the responsibility to act which must be manifest in concrete initiatives and allocation of resources.
Understanding the Implementation Framework
In April 2015, the issue of financial resources to implement the proposed SDGs gained some attention and rallied all the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) together to speak with one voice. Their joint statement: From Billions to Trillions: transforming Development Finance, Post-2015 financing for Development: Multilateral Development Finance, signalled the level of resources that were projected to deliver the SDGs. I will not go into judgement about the normative value of their statement at this point. What is important to me at this conference is the imperative of partnership that underpinned the unprecedented collective action and agreement of all the diverse IFIs comprising the global and regional development Funds and Banks. This was a great innovation of partnership which further imposes a responsibility to act in the spirit of togetherness and to deliver the financial resources they projected for the implementation of the SDGs. First of all, the respective principal shareholders of these institutions must now begin to define a common purpose of financing for a people-centred development that will contribute to ending extreme poverty by 2030 in ways that will ‘leave no one behind’. This is one key commitment of the SDG Framework. Civil Society Organizations engaging with the IFIs should begin innovative advocacy actions that are underpinned by dialogue to ensure the responsibility to act by these IFIs on the development agenda remain paramount.
The Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FFD3) concluded in Addis Ababa in July with the outcome document – Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA). The imperative of the new development agenda of the SDGs provided new impetus for the Addis Ababa Conference in a number of ways. The United Nations Agenda 2030 clearly recognized the Addis outcome document of the FFD3 as the principal means of implementing the SDGs. FFD3 was seen as an integral part of the 2030 Agenda and is expected to support it through the concrete policies and actions outlined in the outcome document. This means that stakeholders and major groups of the UN Sustainable Development process and Financing for Development should not continue with their historical parallel actions. The responsibility to act in this context also means a critical call to act together in partnership in all actions necessary and desirable to the implementation of the SDGs.
Another dimension of understanding the framework for the implementation of the SDGs is the inter-relationship with the on-going climate change conference in Paris. The stand-alone goal 13 on climate change is important but its realization depends on a binding agreement from the Paris Conference. Pope Francis, in Laudato Si, 139 says that: ‘We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combatting poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature’. While it is important that we are engaging in this discourse in tandem with the Paris Conference, we should also keep our gaze, passion and energy on Paris so that a binding agreement is reached. Pope Francis has provided a moral compass to world leaders that Economic Justice, Care for our common home (the Earth) and Social Development can no longer be issues of separable concern. This message is applicable to us in civil society and those in corporate business as well, to accept as a common ground and normative value for dialogue and partnership.
In the discussion of our topic today on Responsibility to act, we cannot be oblivious to goal 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global partnership for Sustainable Development. It is important to note that the principle of partnership in the opening preamble of the 2030 Agenda is taken up forcibly again in paragraphs 60 – 71 under the principal heading: Means of Implementation and the Global Partnership. These paragraphs lucidly elaborate the desirable actions on issues of Finance, Technology, Capacity-Building, Trade and Systemic Issues. I suggest that even though the entire SDG Framework is a call to global partnership, we can focus more clearly in defining and developing innovative partnerships around these five critical issues in goal 17. The Group of 77 and China have sponsored a resolution for the consideration of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly on issues of implementation of the post-2015 development agenda. We in civil society and other stakeholders need to make sure that the spirit of this resolution is consistent with principles of participation and partnership as defined by the SDG Framework.
The unfinished business of the SDG Framework on the setting of indicators is very important especially as there are still windows for influencing what will constitute the measure of implementation and desirable change. We need to build partnerships to influence the work of the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) who have the responsibility for this piece of work to be concluded in March, 2016. Our engagement is also relevant with the national statistical offices in our respective countries which are expected to develop national level indicators to monitor their implementation. Our understanding and engagement with the follow up and review mechanisms and processes at the National, Regional and Global levels is also critical to ensuring implementation of the SDG Framework
The United Nations Special General Assembly on the Post-2015 Development Agenda adopted the final outcome document on 25th September without any diplomatic hassle and tussle; a rather unprecedented feat! This gave an overt sign of a world together right; at least on the issue of sustainable development. While the litmus test of this assertion remains with the outcome of the on-going climate conference in Paris, we should not overlook the great opportunity presented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Framework. As we await 2016 for the SDGs to kick in, a proactive posture of preparation and commitment to engagement by the Caritas confederation is critical to the realization of the SDGs. For this reason, I present the following as a menu of action forms that can be considered; taking into consideration the specificities of our respective contexts:
- Awareness creation of the SDGs; including informing ourselves about the 2030 Agenda, the 17 goals, 169 targets and the indicators yet to be finalized.
- Develop priorities from the seventeen goals for our own social intervention programmes and use these to define our partnership relations.
- Advocacy targeting national governments to replicate long-term development planning that integrates the SDGs. This is another way of developing national priorities on the seventeen goals
- Independent monitoring and reporting on implementation of the SDGs at relevant levels; especially at national and sub-national.
- Create national platforms for sharing knowledge, information and best practices in the implementation of the SDGs
- Advocate for the setting up of national review mechanisms on the implementation of the SDGs. These must be broadly representative of diverse stakeholders and interest groups.
- Social cohesion, good governance and anti-corruption measures are essential pre-conditions for the realization of the SDGs in Africa. Caritas Member Organizations should maintain consistent voice on these issues and build effective partnerships for engagement.
- Develop strategic networking relations with broader civil society to broaden our advocacy platform and amplify our voices on the SDGs Framework. Inter-faith platform engagement could leverage greater influence and even resource mobilization in this regard.
- New and creative resource mobilization techniques and forms have to be explored to support our work on the SDGs. This should not exclude scrupulous but cautious exploration of the corporate sector and philanthropy.
- Caritas Africa can consider launching a campaign in an area that is very crucial for the realization of the SDGs in Africa. This idea includes also joining relevant regional or international campaigns already led by credible CSO. The campaign against Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) from Africa can be considered by Caritas Africa.
- Provide models to contextualize the SDGs in Africa Agenda 2063 for greater harmonization of purpose and equal ambition for change in the lives of people. We must be wary of an African agenda that is less ambitious, impervious to change and finds excuses for mediocrity.
Thank you all for this opportunity to share knowledge and ideas aimed at transforming our world for the common good.