Sustainable development advocates in Nigeria have emphasised the need to strengthen institutions, collaborations and global partnerships to drive the actualisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
They made the call during the launch of the United Green Ambassadors Awards (UNGAA) on Thursday, October 12, in Lagos.
The event had the theme: “Championing Change: Global Goals 2023 Success and SDG Impact.”
Dr Alex Akhigbe, Director, UNGAA, said that some of the challenges hindering the progress of the SDGs in Nigeria could be traced down to lack of priority, responsibility, and availability of leaders ready to drive the change.
“We need to set our priorities right as a nation, take responsibility for preserving the earth and not wait for someone else to do it.
“We also need to create enough awareness, as UNGAA is doing, to awaken the interest of others in joining the few making this change possible so we can begin to see rapid advancement,” Akhigbe said.
He said that the aim of UNGAA was to drive positive community actions through the praise, promotion, and recognition of sustainability champions.
“There are people and organisations who are committed to achieving various aspects of the SDGs. We have seen some improvement in access to education, reduction of infant mortality rate, and promotion of gender equality.
“This is one of the reasons why UNGAA thinks that the people making these things possible in rural towns and urban cities deserve to be celebrated.
“But there is still much work to be done economically in reducing the poverty rate and other key areas,” he said.
Akhigbe urged all stakeholders and individuals to actively participate in achieving the SDGs, saying “let’s leave no one behind”.
“We need all hands on deck in preserving this home called Earth and her most valued asset – people.
“There are various innovative, creative ways all stakeholders can give their voice and support to the actualisation of the SDGs and the time to do so is now.”
Dr Murtala Mohammed, Founder and Executive Director, System Strategy and Policy Lab, said that championing change for the implementation of the SDGs required dedication, collaboration and consistency.
According to him, some of the key challenges in the implementation include lack of standardised and reliable data, not choosing reasonable and enforceable goals to prioritise, weak constitutional capacity and lack of accountability.
These challenges, he noted, had led to poor governance and policy inconsistencies.
He listed strategies for achieving the SDGs to include raising awareness and advocacy, partnerships and collaboration, innovation and technology and data collection and monitoring.
Mohammed said that some other strategies are community mobilisation, capacity building, accountability and promotion of inclusivity.
“There is need to foster collaborations among governments, civil society, private sector, academia and international organisations.
“Partnerships will leverage resources, expertise and innovative solutions to address complex development challenges.
“Prioritise engagement with communities at the grassroots to understand their needs and concerns and use this information to guide policy decisions that address the challenges faced by ordinary citizens.
“Establishing a robust data collection and analysis system to monitor progress and inform evidence-based policymaking will enable targeted interventions and accountability in SDG implementation.
“Also, the government should develop a comprehensive communication strategy to ensure that initiatives, policies and achievements are effectively communicated to the public.
“For individuals, civil society and NGOs, identify key priority projects that align with government’s agenda and work closely with the relevant ministries and agencies to ensure their successful implementation within specified timelines,” Mohammed said.
Mr Femi Oye, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, SMEFunds, said the lack of commitment from state and non-state actors had stalled the progress of the actualisation of the SDGs in Nigeria.
According to Oye, for us to achieve the SDGs in the remaining seven years, we need to accelerate our efforts and emphasise partnerships and collaborations which is SDG 17.
“We also need to foster initiatives that can help mitigate impact of climate change and reduce our carbon emission for a more sustainable environment.
“In the past years, I have worked with women, individuals and organisations to help them translate their activities into quality carbon offset, recyclables and attract finances and impact funds.
“We need to look inward, take actions and make impact as individuals because everyone is a contributor towards the achievement of the SDG,” he said.
On his part, Dr Toyosi Craig, an energy management consultant, said that Nigeria needed to do more on SDG 7 which aims to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Achieving this, he said, would translate to energy efficiency, access to electricity, socio-economic development and environmental impact.
By Adebola Adegoke