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SDGs: Assessing Progress, Sharing Lessons Learned

by Vincent Gasana
11:04 am

They came from all corners of the continent to measure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) holds an annual workshop to take stock of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and this year, participants gathered in Kigali’s Marriott Hotel.

Perhaps the word repeated more often than any other in all the presentations, is implementation. As Director-General of South Africa’s National Planning Commission, Tshediso Matona noted, “we have no problem in drawing up plans, it is in implementation that we struggle.”

This is the second APRM continental workshop, and it comes after the High-Level Political Forum, earlier this year in July, and the first APRM workshop held in Addis Ababa, in October 2018.

Like its Addis Ababa predecessor, the Kigali workshop was focused on Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). The main objectives are to encourage individual countries to share lessons learned from their voluntary national reviews, for the preparation, but, above all the implementation of SDGs, and the Agenda 2063, dubbed, “The Africa We Want.”

There are seventeen SDGs, 169 targets, with 231 indicators. Each member state of the African Union (AU), now has access to their peers’ evaluation of their successes, failures, and the conclusions they reach about the best way of successfully attaining individual SDGs, and their respective targets, and indicators.

In addition, as well as convening the states to share experiences from their VNRs, the APRM itself functions as a resource, in that it pulls together continental, regional, and international discussions, from which AU member states can learn lessons.

In his presentation, Director-General for Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics, Yusufu Murangwa, suggested five key lessons that Rwanda has found; these include starting early in implementing the SDGs, adopting an integrated approach at the planning, delivery and monitoring stages, making the “no one left behind” mantra a reality by including all sectors of society, establishing a robust statistics and data systems, and doing it all through each society’s culture, to enable communities to take ownership.

“One of the major benefits of the VNR is the realisation at the highest level of the need for statistics and data. Otherwise, when you are called to report, you realise you have no data, and no facts” he said.

The Kigali workshop is the first where member states are invited to share experiences of their efforts in implementing SDGs, the first one in Addis Ababa having been attended by technicians only.

“We are pleased to see how VNRs are gaining traction,” said Emmanuel Merissa of APRM, “we are a platform for countries to share experiences, and to prepare them for the annual High-Level Political Forums (HLPF). The workshops are a look back on lessons learned, and into the future to the next year’s HLPF.”

According to Merissa, indications that countries are engaging fully with the implementation of the SDGs are clear to see.

“We can see agenda 2030 being integrated into national development plans. This shows the commitment to these agendas. Heads of the state want to deliver both SDG agenda 2030, and the 2063 ‘Africa We Want.’ Both are ambitious, but, they are realised.”

The APRM was initiated in 2002 and established the next year. It is a self-assessment instrument for good governance. It aims to help member states of the AU share experiences, encouraging them to share lessons learnt, both from successes, as well as failures. States within the APRM, undertake to monitor their progress in all aspects of governance, and socio-economic development. The self-assessment includes all branches of government, the executive, legislative and judiciary, as well as the private sector, and the media.

The mandate of the APRM was extended to include the monitoring and implementation of the AU agenda 2063, and the SDGs agenda 2030. The January 2018 AU assembly further welcomed the positioning of the APRM as an early warning system for conflict prevention in Africa, within the structure of African peace, security, and good governance architecture.