SADC Parliaments zoom in on SDGs

> Magreth Nunuhe

Windhoek – The SADC Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) is meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia from 21-24 November 2015 to highlight the scope and opportunities for parliaments to facilitate and oversee implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at national, regional and global levels.

The meeting, which is the forum’s 38th Plenary Assembly Session, is being hosted by the Namibian Parliament and SADC-PF under the theme, “From MDGs to SDGs: Towards a greater parliamentary role in the development agenda”.

The SDGs are part of the United Nation’s initiatives towards “Transforming Our World – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” that includes the objective to end poverty in all its forms and everywhere, end hunger, achieve food security, ensure healthy lives, inclusive equitable quality education, achieve gender equality and availability and sustainable management of water, among others.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight 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. Enormous progress has been made on the MDGs, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets. Despite this success, the indignity of poverty has not been ended for all.

The new SDGs, and the broader sustainability agenda, go much further than the MDGs, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.

UNDP Administrator Helen Clark noted: “This agreement marks an important milestone in putting our world on an inclusive and sustainable course.

If we all work together, we have a chance of meeting citizens’ aspirations for peace, prosperity, and wellbeing, and to preserve our planet.”

The Sustainable Development Goals will now finish the job of the MDGs, and ensure that no one is left behind.

The proposed 17 goals

1) End poverty in all its forms everywhere

2) End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture

3) Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages

4) Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all

9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation

10) Reduce inequality within and among countries

11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)

14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

15) Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss

16) Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

Within the goals are 169 targets, to put a bit of meat on the bones. Targets under goal one, for example, include reducing by at least half the number of people living in poverty by 2030, and eradicating extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25 a day). Under goal five, there’s a target on eliminating violence against women, while goal 16 has a target to promote the rule of law and equal access to justice.

The SADC-PF seeks to bring regional experiences to bear at the national level, to promote best practices in the role of parliaments in regional cooperation and integration as outlined in the SADC Treaty and the Forum Constitution.

The plenary is the policy-making body and deliberative body of the SADC Parliamentary Forum which is constituted of Speakers and four representatives elected by each national parliament.

The Plenary Assembly advises the SADC Summit on matters of regional policy issues and promotes the objectives and programmes of SADC.

Last year, the SADC-PF held its 37th Plenary Session in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, attended by all 14 Member Parliaments of SADC under the theme, “Industrialization for SADC Regional Development and Integration”.

The session included round-table discussions by Members of Parliaments, experts, civil society and interest groups to sensitise members and the community at large about migration and related issues in the SADC region.

The session adopted five notice of motions, which were on the significance of the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015 – 2020) and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap as vehicles for regional integration, development and accelerated sustainable economic growth; importance of the Blue Economy to economic development of Island States and regional integration; SADC Member States’ readiness to deal with Food Security, Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change challenges; the need for SADC Member States to prevent and eliminate Early and Forced Child Marriages; and criminalisation of HIV Transmission, Exposure and Non-Disclosure in SADC Member States.

The SADC PF and the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) also held a Regional Parliamentary Seminar on SADC Domestic Resource Mobilization through Taxation and Oversight, on 10 November 2015 in South Africa attended by representatives of the Parliaments of Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The aim of the seminar was to raise parliamentary awareness and commitment to advancing domestic resource mobilization (DRM) through taxation and greater oversight.

DRM refers to the generation of savings from domestic resources and their allocation to economically and socially productive investments and can come from both the public and private sectors.

The SADC PF was established in 1997 as a regional inter-parliamentary body composed of 13 parliaments representing over 3500 parliamentarians in the SADC region, which are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South, Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Additional information: http://www.gov.za/the guardian

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