New Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the UN. Now the real work begins
Ambrose Murangira was in New York upon invitation from the British Sightsavers and held a speech in their side event.
From Ambrose Murangiras point of view:
In 2010 I contested for a Parliamentary seat to represent Youth of Western Uganda in the Ugandan Parliament, I used “Leave No Youth Behind” as my campaign motto. A year later (2011), I used “Leave No One Behind” in my second Parliamentary campaign to represent Uganda in East Africa Legislative Assembly. I lost both elections but four years later I’m a winner! I am a winner because the main theme of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals,SDG, s is “Leave No One Behind”. I think the new goals present Ugandans with Disabilities with many opportunities ranging from lobbying and fundraising to making government transparent and accountable. The fact that my own President (H.E Yoweri Kaguta Muzeveni) co-chaired the General Assembly which approved SDGs last week strengthens this thinking.
Unlike the Millenium Development Goals, The SDGs recognize the role of private sector and they have a good focus on tackling climate change and protecting the environment.
Time to celebrate?
But is it time to celebrate? I would say no! There are many reasons, but let me look at two: one conceptual problem and another practical problem.
Conceptual: Though three goals precisely mention PWDs, other goals repeatedly use “vulnerable groups” and “All” which were also used in MDGs but which contributed to “leaving PWDs Behind”. It is therefore important for monitoring indicators (which are supposed to be ready by March next year) to be clear on PWDs. We need to unpack PWDs itself. Some partner states need to understand who PWDs are and to appreciate the fact that not all PWDs have similar needs. For instance, as I write this email, Epilepsy Support Association of Uganda’s Executive Director is protesting the missing of People with Epilepsy and Albinism on the guidelines (for elections of PWDs) provided by the National Electoral Commission.
Practically, there is a big problem of financing 17 goals and 169 targets. It is estimated that the world will need $3 trillion annually to enact the SDGs. Who will foot this Bill? Though the world performed fairly in attaining the MDGs, they were only 21 targets – now we have 148 more! My fear is that the government will use these many targets and costs of enacting them as excuses of selective implementation. But selecting targets to implement will obviously lead to “leaving some people behind” and as it has been a practice, PWDs are likely to be the first victims. Let’s fight against that!
A key role for the private sector
Unlike the MDGs, SDGs recognize the role of private sector in
playing a key role in financing its implementation. But will governments and private sector compromise? It will not be an easy task. Private sector is likely to demand for stable regulatory and taxation framework which many countries are reluctant to do as they depend on only taxation. It will be difficult to persuade private sector to finance these ambitious goals before wiping out the corruption that is taking its toll in so many countries, also in Uganda.
We will not achieve the SDGs without private sector because the rich countries which have been earmarking 0.7% of their gross national income for overseas development assistance contribute by only about $135 billion a year. And since the goals are universal, all countries (including rich countries) will be working towards attaining those goals hence poor countries may have to wait for the “surplus”/ bail out. For instance, Finland is already cutting foreign aid to a tune of 46% starting next year.