By Alkali Amana
The United Nations Agenda 2030 for sustainable development adopted as a resolution by the General Assembly in 2015 is focused on achieving 17 goals with which to improve the existence of humanity and the world at large, considering key topical areas such as hunger, achieving food security, combating inequality, protecting human rights etc. which the world continues to possess a need to address in each generation.
Through its motto ‘Leave No One Behind, the 2030 agenda announces a ‘plan of action for the people, planet and prosperity, tailored towards highlighting the strengthening of ‘universal peace in larger freedom’ and the recognition of the mission to eradicate poverty in all its forms and dimensions. It is with this intent that the Agenda for Sustainable Development targets Africa with a special focus to continue the elevation of the continent towards positioning it as a global powerhouse by leveraging on its inherent ability and immense potential to excel when guided in the right direction. To this end, the resolution to the 2030 agenda reads as follows:
‘We resolve, between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. We resolve also to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities.’
The above resolution is necessary for the consideration of every African government and leadership as the cause is driven towards the growth and development of the continent. For Africa, however, to ensure the sustainable application of the 2030 agenda, concise strategies are needed in implementation to convert efforts through long-term activity to achievements worthy of celebration and commendation. Strategies that can be incorporated to assure sustainability towards achievements in the long-term include:
- Reduce the Objectives to a Strategic Step by Step Action Plan
Cara Ong, a strategic executive and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in business and product management, having analyzed the importance of strategic planning and why it is necessary to implement projects or objectives in measurable steps, provided 5 benefits of strategic planning, outlining the following:
- It allows for proactive measures, rather than reactive measures.
- It sets up a sense of direction, which in turn, is vital to achieving any set goal or objective.
- It increases operational efficiency.
- It helps increase profitability.
- It provides for durability.
Effectively, the adoption of a step-by-step strategic action plan by African governments for the purpose of achieving sustainability will improve the efficiency of their systems to gain better results in their implementation process.
- Employ a Bottom–up Approach
It is time for Africa to employ the use of a bottom-up approach in her leadership style and it does not go beyond the continent’s leadership, which according to Dr. Wallace Mgoqi, until now development has been driven in the opposite direction – a top to bottom approach where government bureaucrats sit in air-conditioned offices and figure out what development dispensation should come into existence. Ultimately, this process does not allow for those whom the development is intended to participate or determine its nature or the process, as Dr. Mgoqi sums it up.
The need for an alternative model from what we know, in the form of a bottom-up approach, is to ensure the distribution of decisive responsibilities even to the citizens of the various countries within the continent so they can participate in decision-making and investing in the continent’s future. The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) in discussing the bottom-up approach of the African Private Sector categorized it to make ‘all the difference’ for businesses as they reap massive successes starting implementation from the realities on the ground to design solutions adapted to needs, from the most local to the most global, and not the other way around. A bottom-up approach will expand the reach of African governments and allow in greater participation from citizens to ensure better results in sustaining the Sustainable Development Goals altogether.
- Drive Change and Commitment Through Narratives
Stories build, endear and develop people towards a cause of action and the achievement of a set of goals or objectives. One of the world’s leading activists in Climate Change, an area of the SDGs, Greta Thunberg, has been applauded for her ability to transmit words to send out the message she wishes to pass across via powerful storytelling forms. Analyzing what her storytelling entails, Berkeley Communications provides the following that key elements to be absorbed include deciding what matters in a particular situation as passion and authenticity determine whether a story flies or flops, choosing words carefully and appealing to the heart, not the mind of listeners help.
The use of a narrative or storytelling ingrains in the minds and hearts of individuals the need to take action because in one way or the other it will relate to them, and it is an effective strategy that can be incorporated by African governments to implement sustainable projects to see out the achievement of the SDGs within the Sub-Saharan region.
Essentially, it must be recognized that ensuring the implementation of relevant action plans which will help the growth of the SDGs and their achievement by 2030, will also work towards sustaining the achievement of the AU’s 2063 agenda towards the improvement of the continent. The Sustainable Development Goals in themselves are target areas that address the key issues posing concerns across the world, and there is at the moment no other choice but to attend to them in order to stifle and mitigate the effects of issues such as climate change, hunger, security, quality education etc. Without the realization of the need for a continuous and sustainable effort towards improving the continent, development in itself will be elusive, hence African governments must rise to the occasion and lead the way for a global pursuit of the implementation of the SDGs.