By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – Lesotho faces a defining moment, racing against time to achieve the Agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within a period shy of seven years.

The government through the Ministry of Development Planning and Finance was holding the SDGs summit in collaboration with the United Nations (UN) last week. This Summit comes ahead of the UN General Assembly scheduled for September.

It is envisaged that the world leaders will devise a “Rescue Plan for the People and Planet”.

The two-day summit had attracted participants from government, civil society organisations (CSOs), private sector, and youth representatives amongst other participants.

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning’s Deputy Principal Secretary (DPS) Teboho ‘Malisebo ‘Mokela reaffirmed the government’s commitment to implementing the SDGs saying they have been harmonized through the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) II, 2018/19-2022/23 and it has been extended to 2027.

She pointed out that following the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the government took it upon self to raise awareness and assumed their ownership thereof.

“Delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals must become a central focus for national planning, oversight mechanisms and domestic budgets. Major investment is needed to strengthen public sector capacity and build appropriate infrastructure. Local and subnational governments must be empowered and supported to bring implementation of the goals to the ground level. An effective regulatory framework is needed to align private sector governance models with sustainable development objectives,” she said.

The government has taken two voluntary national reviews first one in 2019 and the recent one was in 2022 and the two reports were born out of these processes.

The Summit has validated and provided inputs to the ‘Draft National Synthesis Report’ for the upcoming UN Summit. The Prime Minister Ntsokoane Matekane will present before the world leaders at the UN Summit, the report on Lesotho’s status in terms of achieving the SDGs.

The DPS continued, “the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and planet, now and into the future”.

‘Mokela underscored that commitment is required to accelerate the implementation of the Agenda 2023 to generating fresh ambition and momentum for action at a country-level through future-oriented national commitments for transformation from the world leaders and to reignite the global movement for the SDGs by mobilizing commitments to action around small number of high-impact initiatives.

The SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted in 2000 to address “the indignity of poverty”.

On behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s Deputy Representative, Kimanzi Muthengi described the Summit as an opportunity to review progress and chart a course towards achievement of the 17 SDGs by 2030.

These SDGs are: no povertyzero hungergood health and well-beingquality educationgender equalityclean water and sanitationaffordable and clean energydecent work and economic growthindustry, innovation and infrastructurereduced inequalitiessustainable cities and communitiesresponsible consumption and productionclimate actionlife below waterlife on landpeace, justice, and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals

Each goal has targets, and each target has the indicators upon which to evaluate the progress towards its achievement.

He noted that the summit comes at a time “when we are faced with the stark reality that the promise for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is at risk. Our world is facing unprecedented challenges, with development progress reversing due to climate disasters, conflicts, economic downturn, and the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Muthengi said the inequalities have worsened, especially for women and girls, adding that millions are living in poverty. He highlighted that hunger and malnutrition are on the rise.

He showed that “humanitarian needs and displacement are at record levels. Digital divides are crippling global potential. And we hurtling towards ever-greater climate and environmental catastrophe. The world’s poorest countries and most vulnerable people are once again unjustly paying the highest price.”

Taking stock of the expected outcomes from the UN Summit, he highlighted that they are in threefold, the first being to secure greater support for developing countries to implement the SDGs; securing future-oriented commitments to transformation from world leaders, and mobilizing commitments and engagements by various stakeholders.

Muthengi showed that there is still hope despite the challenges to achieving the SDGs targets.

“We know what needs to be done, and we possess the knowledge and tools to achieve it. But it will demand unwavering resolve to work together for the global good,” he said.