TAP at the 2017 HLPF: A Nigerian’s Perspective on SDG Implementation and Reporting
by Dr. Tola Winjobi, National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development (Nigeria)
Convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development was held from 10-19 July in and around the United Nations Headquarters in New York, USA. The National Voluntary Report was mainly done in Room 4 of the UN while many side events took place within and around the premises. There was a ministerial declaration of the high-level segment of the 2017 session of the Economic and Social Council and the high-level political forum on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the Council, submitted by the President of the Council, Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava (Zimbabwe).It is interesting to note that the representatives of many CSOs across the globe were part of the process in spite of funding challenge apart from the fact that many were denied visa to enter US.
My reflections from the 2017 HLPF and shortcomings
HLPF is desirable as it is an opportunity for countries involved in Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) to show case their efforts in implementing SDGs in the past couple of months. Some felt that not all VNRs were representative of action and progress on the ground. There was also not ample opportunity for full transparency in the form of sincere comments and rebuffs from NGOs towards certain commentary on national implementation, because NGOs were preselected to make comments. However, HLPF though political in nature is good as NGOs can still hold their government accountable back home.
Something that stood out cutting across the NVR presentations in developing countries is the fact that many of them were really passionate about implementing SDGs in their countries but they shied away from the major challenges facing them; two of which are insecurity and corruption.
My thoughts/reflections on this year’s Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and presentations at the HLPF
Some of the presentations were meaningful especially considering countries from the global north while countries from the global south still have many rivers to cross. Well this is just the beginning; about sixteen months’ review into SDGs implementation. There is still room for improvements. At least it is an opportunity to show case to the world what they have been doing which was not done under MDGs. However, many of the presentations lacked content as they were mere political story telling. Some of the presenters did not seem to understand the importance and intendment of the voluntary review. Some indeed lacked focus. Some made a general presentation. Some surprisingly were still referring to SDGs as MDGs!
My thoughts on this year’s HLPF Ministerial Declaration
I personally praise the efforts of the UN in its commitment towards eradicating poverty of the critical masses of the citizens namely “children, adolescents, youth, persons with disabilities (of whom more than 80 per cent live in poverty), people living with HIV/AIDS, older persons, etc. However, the text of the Ministerial Declaration seems to underplay the interlink of the three pillars of sustainable development including environmental, social and economic pillars which hinges on realization of Agenda 2030. Though reference was made to Climate Change the issue of environment including the role of biodiversity and healthy environment for realization of poverty eradication was not enhanced in the declaration.
I am concerned about the shrinking role of the link-agent between the governments and the critical masses of the people. I lament the role of civil society which has been further decimated especially in follow up, review and implementation of the SDGs with the text of the Ministerial Declaration. The HLPF Ministerial Declaration does not see civil society as a link agent and partner in progress. As a result, SDGs monitoring process might be impaired.
Feedback on the TAP Network’s events/workshops at the 2017 HLPF
TAP Network’s events and workshops were useful and eye opening to understanding SDG 16. I was part of many of these workshops and side events such as TAP Network Strategy and Networking Luncheon on 13th July; Beyond VNRs: Global Workshop on Civil Society Parallel Reports for SDGs 16 on the 14th July at UN Church Centre; and in particular SGD16 and Justice, National Civil Society Advocacy Workshop held on the 15th of July at World Vision International Office.
The July 14 Workshop was useful as it was an opportunity to learn from other colleagues the challenges facing them and how they had been tackling them. It was also a rallying point for meeting CSO members of the TAP Network in other countries and in my own country for the first time. Meeting some members of TAP Network from my own country shows how vast Nigeria is to the extent that it is a challenge meeting together.
Tola Winjobi, (PhD)
National Coordinator, Civil Society Coalition on Sustainable Development;
and Principal Coordinator, CAFSO-WRAG for Development