With participants from over 158 countries, the recent Global festival of Action Campaign (GFAC) held in Bonn, Germany served as another great avenue for a review of progress being made in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, the challenges hampering the implementation of the development framework as well as the innovations countries being adopted by countries to ensure that their people are not left behind in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
It was also an avenue for countries to discuss the successes they have recorded since the coming into force of the development agenda in 2015 and to also share with their peers their unique solutions to challenges they have encountered in the implementation of the SDGs.
Therefore, for the few days the event lasted, different speakers took to the podium to speak on the initiatives and innovations being adopted to ensure the realization of the goals of the SDGs. In their various presentations, speakers at the Festival also harped on the important role of individual can play in efforts to achieve the SDGs if only they can change certain negative habits. While the world needs positive changes to move forward which is the essence of SDGs, the campaign for the change must start with individuals, high and low, kings and queens, the haves and have nots. Just like the popular campaign of the Nigerian government, “Change Begins With Me” is what SDGs is advocating.
Leading the Nigerian delegation to the Festival was the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SSAP-SDGs, Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire. In her address at the event, she described the Festival as a good forum for interaction and peer review on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. She advocated establishment of a similar forum at regional levels to enable governments and states discuss and review ways that can lead to the realization of the development agenda. She revealed that the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President under her leadership has mapped out strategies and have started the implementation of programmes aimed at ensuring the realization of the goals of SDGs.
She listed some of the foundation work that have already being done to ensure successful implementation of the development framework in Nigeria to include the conduct and the production of the baseline studies in conjunction with the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), inaugurations of Public Private Partnerships, Presidential Council on SDGs, training of youth on skill acquisition, coordinating relevant stakeholders on the implementation of the SDGs among others.
Princess Adefulire also pointed out that is about individual participating and contributing positively to the world by touching lives, helping the helpless, encouraging the girl child to go to school, encouraging women and youth to develop their skills and advocating for better life for all at all times.
The SSAP-SDGs said Nigeria is happy to have been one of the major drivers that enabled the UN Millennium Campaign, the predecessor of the SDG Action Campaign to reach out to over 10 million people across the world (in My World Survey) to voice their priorities and influence the emergence of the SDGs. According to her, Nigeria is still committed in partnership with the Campaign and other actors to ensure that people remain at the heart of the implementation of the SDGs in terms of prioritizing, financing, monitoring and reporting.
On her part, Ambassador Ingrid Jung of the German Federal Foreign Office pledged that her country would support the United Nations in the quest for better future of the planet. She also revealed that the German government is working on variety of efforts aimed at reducing the number of illicit arms in circulations to ensure better security across the world in the quest to meet goals 16 and 4 of SDGs.
The German Ambassador therefore encouraged the UNSDG AC to continue to encourage the festival towards the progress of SDGs.
In her words of encouragement to the Festival, United Nations Under Secretary General, Amina Mohammed made a bold call for change, action and inclusion to achieve the SDGs.
Also, different countries display innovative approaches they are using and which have been yielding positive results in their bid to achieve the SDGs at the Festival. Over 30 innovations and exhibitions were showcased in the area of environment, cleanliness, agriculture, anti-corruption campaign, encouraging girl-child education, women and youth empowerment among others. The exhibitions showed that world is indeed embracing SDGs and that there is need for all stakeholders to double efforts to achieve the development agenda back home.
Talking about creativity and innovations, Nigerian youth were also not left behind at the Festival. Creative Youth Initiative Against Corruption (CYIAC), a group of Nigerian youth emerged the winner of the Innovative Category of the first UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Action Awards at the Festival, a development which was described as a demonstration of the increasing popularity of Agenda 2030 in the country.
The youth group was recognized for its tireless efforts in supporting the Nigerian Government’s fight against corruption and for Development, Peace and Security to prevail in the country. The award to the youth group was also another indication of the imperative of encouraging everyone, especially the youth, to participate in governance, in any way possible by proffering solutions to challenges while the government should make resources available to actualize such solutions.
This was further emphasized by the Director, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) Action Campaign, Mr. Mitchell Toomey who noted during the closing ceremony of the Festival that every individual has contribution to make to change the world to a better place.
Toomey pointed out that every one step taken is a network which, when well harnessed can deliver good results. He also noted that the backbone of over 70 years of UN service to the world is humility and as such, the participants should be humble in their service to humanity.
He also urged organizations and individuals working towards the achievement of SDGs to continue to do so without looking back, reiterating that the UN is fully in support of all efforts that will make life bearable for all. He stressed that the UN has the tools and technology to give support for the implementation of the SDGs, hence, there should be no impediment towards progress in the 2030 Agenda. He asked participants to work as ambassadors of SDGs.
The overall message from the Festival was that SDGs is partnership driven and its successes depend on individuals, countries, organizations and all humanity. One step forward will make a big difference. Let’s change our world! Let’s work positively to live well.