2015 will see the replacement of the Millenium Development Goals with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is therefore apposite to consider promises that the SDGs hold for overcoming the various development challenges in Africa. Africa cannot afford to be left behind in the on-going global development agenda setting. The ensuing SDGs, therefore, offer another opportunity for Africa to be more proactive in ensuring sustainable development in the continent as well as progressive transformation of economies and societies. Considering the disparate achievements of many African countries in the soon to be concluded MDGs, the organisers of the 6th annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit (ISDS) considered it apt to bring to the fore the level of preparedness or otherwise of the continent and what lessons it has learnt from the MDGs, as well as the expected roles from numerous stakeholders in the sustainable development spectrum.
The Organization of the Summit, Participation, Paper Presentations and Publications
The summit was organised by the University of Ibadan Centre for Sustainable Development (UI-CESDEV) in collaboration with the African Sustainable Development Network (ASUDNET) and Sustainable Development Solutions Network- Nigeria (NSDSN). It was held during 23 – 28 August, 2015. The theme for the summit was The Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda: Whither Africa?
About 230 people from 10 countries in Africa (Ghana, The Gambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Nigeria) and Europe (Italy, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom) participated at the summit. There were also representatives of Governments (including high-level delegation from the Gambia) as well as Non-Governmental Orgranisations (including the Nigerian Network of NGOs), Students and Alumni Associations. Young scholars and researchers presented papers on a range of sustainable development issues at the summit. There were two keynote addresses by Professor Godwell Nhamo of the University of South Africa (UNISA), a CIRCLE supervisor, and Ambassador Oluseyi Onafowokan, the Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana. 11 plenary sessions based on the sub-themes of the summit were led by seasoned scholars. A total of 67 technical paper presentations were made. The plenary papers will be published in the summit proceedings while authors of the technical papers are advised to send the revised papers for consideration and publication in the African Journal of Sustainable Development (AJSD) (http://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajsd).
Formation of Research and Working Groups
For the implementation of the SDGs, the meeting grouped the SDGs by similarity and complementarity, and proposed the following five research and working groups for the purpose of driving research, advocacy and implementation of the goals. The summit therefore, set up five research and working groups around the Sustainable Development Goals as follows:
Group 1: Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere; Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture; Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages; and Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Group 2: Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all; and Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Group 3: Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation; Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns; Goal 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.
Group 4: Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all; Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all; Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable; Development; Goal 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.
Group 5: Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries; Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Membership of the research and working groups comprises representatives from the academia, government and non-governmental organisations and they cut across institutions, disciplines and universities. Others are encouraged to join. The groups will be expected to compete for grants, do advocacy and enlightenment, regarding the SDGs. Several participants in the groups are also involved in the CIRCLE programme, including Prof Godwell Nhamo, from the University of South Africa; Prof Labode Popoola, from the University of Ibadan; Dr Olawale Olayide from the University of Ibadan and Dr Divine Appiah, a CIRCLE Visiting Fellow currently hosted at the University of Ibadan.
Need for Collaboration
Participants emphasized the need to actualize the important goal of partnership/collaboration as key to achieving the other goals. It therefore, resolved to sustain the unity of purpose demonstrated at the meeting by the key stakeholders from the civil service, universities, research centres, NGOs, students, and the private sector. The universities in particular, were challenged to take the leadership position in the implementation process, with government, providing the needed support. The meeting also highlighted the steps taken towards actualizing a pan-Africa partnership towards achieving the SDGs by Gambian President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh’s Pan-African commitment to Sustainable Development and support for an annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit. The Gambia President sent a powerful delegation of nine senior members in his government comprising a junior minister, permanent secretaries, Director General, and Special Assistants in the Presidency. This was viewed as exemplary, for which other African heads of government should emulate in subsequent summits.
Conclusion and Next Steps
The theme of the summit was very timely, as the summit offered a veritable platform on current debates on the sustainable development goals and underscored the role of Africa in the processes and expectations of implementation frameworks. The research and working groups are tasked with developing proposals and strategies for domesticating the Sustainable Development Goals for Africa, especially the ECOWAS region. They would also sustain the collaboration among the academia, NGOs, PSOs and governments in Africa. International support and collaboration were also emphasized as germane to achieving the SDGs. The seventh ISDS will take place in August 2016 and the theme will be determined in due course.
Director, CESDEV & Co-Director, SDSN-Nigeria
CIRCLE Post-Doctoral Visiting Research Fellow, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Research Fellow & Coordinator, EPNARP, CESDEV, University of Ibadan
For and on behalf of the Organisers