The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was unanimously adopted by all member states at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on September 25, 2015. The Agenda presents a radical new approach to transforming our world. While focusing on the basic pillars of sustainable development, which are economic, social and environmental, the plan also integrated additional elements, being peace, justice and institutions. Overall, the 2030 Agenda aims at being universally applicable and indivisible by “leaving no one behind”.
Afghanistan has endorsed these principles, as illustrated by its Key Messages to be conveyed at the 2017 High Level Political Forum.
1. Political Will
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) has taken action to affirm its commitment to attaining the SDGs. GoIRA has designated the Ministry of Economy (MoEc) as the lead line ministry and focal point for the coordination, monitoring and reporting on Afghanistan Sustainable Development Goals (A-SDGs). The nationali-zation process is closely coordinated with High Council of Ministers (HCM) to ensure the implementation of the A-SDGs, and stronger cooperation with the private sector, civil society and community organizations.
2. Leaving No One Behind
Consultation with all member states has been at the core of the adoption of the A-SDGs on a global level. GoIRA has adopted a similar approach and has engaged all national and international stakeholders in its attempt to nationalize and align the A-SDGs with national planning processes, policies and strategies. Consequently, GoIRA has conducted around 50 workshops, seminars, symposiums and conferences with civil society organizations, private sector actors, academia, media, youth, students and women’s groups.
3. Building Stronger Partnerships
Multi-stakeholder partnerships will be key to mobilizing and sharing knowledge, expertise, technologies and financial resources to support the realization of the A-SDGs. Coordination between the relevant institutions will be crucial. In this context, Afghanistan has framed cross-ministerial activities on A-SDGs with an oversight commission, ‘A-SDGs National Coordination Commission (NCC)’. The Commission will be supported by a secretariat and technical working groups that work on data collection, data verification, reporting and follow-up mechanisms.
Coordination mechanisms is developed to facilitate the implementation of A-SDGs and to report on the national targets and indicators. The NCC will provide a high level platform for direct and sustained engagement between the various government stakeholders, the private sector actors, civil society organizations, NGOs, academia, youths and the international community, with the common purpose of attaining the A-SDGs.
4. Setting National Targets
The A-SDGs program has been defined as a global aspiration. It is expected that each government will adapt the targets to its own national circumstances. GoIRA is in the process of finalizing its nationalization of the A-SDGs, targets and indicators.
The nationalized targets and indicators for the SDGs in Afghanistan have been divided into eight budgetary sectors. The negotiation process required several coordination meetings between MoEc, the line ministries involved in each of budgetary sector, and development partners.
5. Challenges and the Way Ahead
Former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, stressed that “implementation is the litmus test of the new agenda”. Every country will encounter unique challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Afghanistan is no exception. In some areas institutional capacity is insufficient. Data collection, analysis and dissemination will be challenging. The political will to attaining the SDGs is jeopardized by security, social and economic challenges.