Africa governments in September 2015 joined other world leaders to adopt a set of 17 global goals – otherwise known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to address the environment, social and economic challenges confronting them by 2030. And the Agenda 2063 developed as the Africa’s blueprint and master plan to transform Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.
With just nine (9) years away to Agenda2030 of the sustainable development goals and Covid-19 outbreak, which isbelieved to haveproduced a significant global setback in the efforts. Thus, there is a need to urgently assess the impact of the pandemic on Africa, progress made in the SDGs and to provide useful guidance to both the government and non-state actors to progressively achieve most of these goals. A non-governmental organization (NGO) – African Centre for Climate Actions and Rural Development (ACCARD) in collaboration with World Maritime University (WMU), Climate Investment Funds (CIF), Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development Projects (CESLP) and the International Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA) held an online conversation session entitled “Africa and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s): Prospects, challenges and Covid-19 pandemic” on September 17, 2020.
Theoutcome of the meeting with experts drawn from the academia, civil society organizations on climate change and United NationsSDGs,identified someachievements with goal 17 “partnership, goals 6 (gender equality) in relations to women land rights and goal 13 “climate action” in Africa. However, the outbreak of Covid-19was seen, not only to reverse some of these gains and increasing human right abuses,but also exposed Africa government weaknesses in achieving most of these goals by 2030. This has resultedto increase in poverty and hunger made worse by Covid-19 and undermining the continent’s Agenda 2063 – blueprint for Africa development.
Prof. Ronan Long, the Directorof World Maritime University said the issues addressed by the SDGs are global in nature and for anyoneto gain acceptance – decisions should be informed by science-based knowledge, especially thegrowing challenges coming from hydrocarbon and offshore industries looking at the global carbon intensive economies, which have too many unsustainable practices.
According to him, overfishing, human migration and the ecological devastations across the World, such as wildfirewhich is on the increase – are climate change potentiated in combination with worrisome environmental problems that is in line with the World Economic global risk report.
He added that, Africa is at high risk and most likely to suffer most of these impacts due to the huge infrastructural and human capacity deficit – which is already exacerbating food security and forcing human migration across Africa.
In his concluding statement, Prof. Long said the 2030 agenda has provided a platform for actions that require regional partnership and nature-based solutions which is provided mainly through education. And the need for Africa to develop local and/or indigenous solutions, as well as raise environmental standards to address these growing challenges.
Professor Augustine Arukwean environmental scientist with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) Norway emphasized on education,as an effective weapon to change societies, have been linked to the attainment of the SDGs.
According to the Erudite Professor, youths including young girls have a big role to play in advancing the SDGs and changing societies – where Africa is yet to do well,in developing capacity for young people especially as the future belongs to them. The older generations owe them this moral and ethical responsibility, of leaving a clean and sustainable environment to them.
In his words “local engagement, capacity building for young people especially in climate change management can be integrated into the student learning curriculum at all level, and this will help Africa gain lost grounds in the realization of the SDGs” to develop better, green and resilient economies.
He went further to reiterate the need for governments especially in Africa to do more to improve the living conditionsand health sector for example – to raise the trust level of the people, that has been partially erodedby social media, both for good and bad.
Freeman Elohor – Centre Coordinator for Africa Centre for Climate Actions and Rural Development (ACCARD) gave credit to the governments of Africa in promoting partnership among themselves and with the different stakeholders, especially non-state actors. However,said, a lot still need to be done to reduce the distrust of governments and corruption in Africa.
According to Freeman, the lack of government transparency and Covid-19 pandemic, has exposed the level of poverty and hunger in Africa, which is on the increase, and will be worsened due to the unsustainable borrowings by Africa leaders to keep the economy running. He advocated for big data gathering and the need for Africa leaders to be more innovative and enterprising, which will further help themdevelop the non-oil sectors of theireconomies.
Ms. Grace Ananda – a gender and land right specialist working with Oxfam Pan Africa International, Kenya said “the climate change discourse will be incomplete without women and land right consideration. In her words “Agenda 2030 of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 connect largely – as it promotesequal access of women and young girls to lands.
She added that, Covid-19 has taught Africa governments a good lesson to promote sustainable agricultural development and goal 6 “gender equality” of the SDGs which Rwanda has done fairly well in the continent.
The session moderator Samson Arao, a Senior Program Officer with the Federation of Women Lawyer Kenya and Rehema Mmanga a female Advocate and SDG Champion in Tanzania urged participants to translate the lessons from the meeting into reality and for the development of their respective countries.
Conclusion and recommendations:
The webinar concluded and recommended on the need for Africa governments to develop big data to influence decisions, increase citizens access to information, whichwill also help to reduce the numbers of human right abuses and brain drain in Africa.Africa has been left with no other option, than to develop and/or transform to cleaner energy source to reduce her over-dependence on fossil fuels for oil dependent countries such as Nigeria and Angola under Covid-19 pandemic experienced that saw crumbling economies due to the fall in crude oil prices in the international market. Most importantly, capacity building through education and enabling of the girl child is an integral aspect of sustainable development and should be encouraged with actions and definitely must move beyond rhetoric.