Can SDGs achieve what MDGs failed to attain?

List of 17 Sustainable Development Goals which the world aspires to achieve by 2030. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Though the targets were not attained fully, but the implementation process left behind a number of valuable lessons on how the countries can tackle the challenges as they roll out Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), crafted as a vehicle to continue with what was not achieved through MDGs.

Dar es Salaam. Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came to an end last year leaving a lot of gaps which were not filled. Targets for MDGs were not met adequately in many areas.

Though the targets were not attained fully, but the implementation process left behind a number of valuable lessons on how the countries can tackle the challenges as they roll out Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), crafted as a vehicle to continue with what was not achieved through MDGs.

SDGs, otherwise known as Global Goals, are also regarded as 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice and tackle climate change by 2030.

The SDGs build on the MDGs anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. The MDGs, adopted in 2000, aimed at an array of issues that included slashing poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and access to water and sanitation.

Despite this success, the indignity of poverty has not been ended for all. That is why the world came up with the new Global Goals and the broader sustainability agenda, which go much further than the MDGs, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people. The Global Goals will now finish the job of the MDGs and ensure that no one is left behind.

Tanzania was among few countries which made promising progress in implementation of MDGs in a number of areas. According to Country Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2010 published in September 2011, Tanzania was seen as making progress and was on track to achieving the MDGs related to primary education (MDG2), gender equality (MDG3), some targets on combating the spread of HIV and Aids (MDG 6) and a few indicators under the environmental sustainability goal (MDG7).

However, like many other countries, Tanzania was also lagging on many other indicators – most targets of MDG1, MDG5 and MDG8. This was a general picture which is also expected to feature in the final report. Therefore, introduction of SDGs is, but a blessing to Tanzania as it will capitalise on its gains to make sure that it attains the remaining targets.

How it should be done

In a recent workshop involving members of Parliament in Dodoma, the United National development programme (UNDP) Resident Coordinator, Mr Alvaro Rodriguez Alvaro, warned however that if Tanzania wants to benefit more from the new plan, it should encompass the new plans and targets in its local development designs.

He noted it was good that the SDGs come at a time when the country has just started implementation of the second Five Years Development Plan (FYDP).

“Progress was made during the implementation of Millennium Development Goals. What need to be done now is ensure that we make SDGs part of Tanzania’s development strategy,” he said.

But, Mafinga Urban parliamentarian, Mr Cosato Chumi (CCM), noted that implementation of SDGs will also stall and fail to realise its targets if the approach is not reviewed. According to the law maker, there is a need to focus in empowering the community at the grassroots.

“If we want real changes we should focus on the grassroots. That is where changes should originate. We should look at ways in how we can empower people at the lower levels to implement these plans. Targets can be effectively attained only if the plan is implemented by people at the grassroots,” he insisted.

On the other hand, if the target of ensuring that no one is left behind is to be realised, there was need to also ensure that there is a plan to guarantee people from special groups are also made part of the SDGs implementation plan.

Abdallah Chikota (Nanyamba – CCM) noted it was unfortunate that people from special groups were always left in development plans.

Conflicting targets?

But the Tunduru South MP, engineer Ramo Makani noted that some of the 17 targets were conflicting one another. He specifically cited at goals number 9 and 12. While target number 9 focus on improvement and maximisation of industrial production, goal number 12 insists on sustainable utilisation of natural resources.

“If we want to industrialise, surely we must use the natural resources and given the way things are we must use abundant of it in order to attain the set targets. On the other hand, I see goal number 12 as restricting the use of natural resources,” he noted.

On the other hand, Chemba MP, Mr Juma Nkamia, view the MDGs and now SDGs as something which has been deliberately crafted by developed nations to make Africa fail. According to Mr Nkamia, the plans put conditions which were not conversant and relevant to what Africa is going through.

“We need other variables in order for us to develop. Rich countries know this and instead of facilitating by giving us what we need, they craft something which they know that it will not help Africa redeem itself of poverty,” he said.

But according to Mr Paul Kessy, the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Planning, the two goals do not contradict one another. He noted that as much as utilisation of natural resources is emphasised through goal number 9, goal number 12 puts check and balances in order to ensure that utilisation of the resources would not harm the environment. He said it was true that there were some countries like China, which attained development quickly on the expense of environment. But, he said they knew what they were doing and they had plans to compensate what they had destroyed through some things cannot be compensated.

“But in today’s world you can use appropriate technology without harming the environment and achieve something similar with someone who harms the environment. For instance, technology wh9ich was used in the past to produce electricity from coal, is different from today’s technology,” he said.

On Mr Nkamia assertion, Mr Kessy noted it was unfortunate that some people think that Africa cannot think. To draw his point home, Mr Kessy quoted Mwalimu Nyerere in one of his famous quotes that if a wise person gives you a bad advice and you accept it while he knows that you that is bad advice, he will belittle you.

“Africa has a right not only to think, but to accept what if think is right and reject what it doesn’t fit in its plans. No one is forced to accept or do anything. We have a right to reject what we think is not fit for us,” he said.

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