UN@71: Making SDGs a reality for all in Zimbabwe

Harare, 25 October 2016 - The Government with support from the United Nations system, the development partners, civil society organizations, national associations, the media and community leaders and members will lead to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Zimbabwe.

Addressing over 300 representatives from Government, Diplomatic Corps, NGOs, private sectors, community leaders and the media at the 71st Anniversary of the United Nations celebrations held at the World Health Organization (WHO) office grounds on Monday 24 October 2016, Bishow Parajuli, UN Resident Coordinator paid tribute to the multi-sectoral engagement in making the attainment of SDGs a reality.

“Today, on our special day, we take stock of our year-long engagement in the development and humanitarian spheres in Zimbabwe. It is a culmination of a series of advocacy activities that has run throughout 2016: ranging from awareness raising around the core values and principles of the UN Charter, to building a national coalition for the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and its 17 goals,” Parajuli said.

In the same vein, during the course of 2016, a broad-based national coalition of SDGs was established. The Parliamentarians have taken the lead in legislating for SDGs friendly laws; and local government (provincial and district level) have committed to actively participate in the implementation of SDGs programmes on the ground.

Young people in schools, in universities and in their associations have been playing their role in SDGs advocacy online and off-line, whilst on the other hand traditional leaders have started mobilizing communities into action. The media has for long been on board setting the agenda of public discourse for a meaningful and objective dialogue on SDGs.

“This broad-based multi-stakeholder partnership on SDGs has been made possible under the overall leadership of the Office of the President and Cabinet with technical guidance from the Ministry of Economic planning and Investment Promotion,” Parajuli said.

The United Nations has been at the forefront in fostering partnerships that will continue to mobilize support, together with development partners and the rest of the international community.

The UN Resident Coordinator noted on the need to increase the momentum on the commitment that “no one is left behind” in the quest to end poverty, hunger and protect the planet, as well as fulfilling the aspirations of SDG16 – ensuring peace, justice and strong institutions for all.

In a speech read on his behalf by Information, Media and Broadcast Services Minister Chris Mushohwe, at celebrations to mark the 71st anniversary of the UN, Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed that government has been working with support from UN and other development partners to lay the ground to achieve the targets set in the SGDs as well as aligning them to the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social-Economic Transformation (ZimASSET).

He said the UN Day is a highlight of the progress made since the adoption of the SGDs in 2015.

“This day serves as a reminder of the work that we are doing with the United Nations in trying to meet the objectives of the SGDs which were adopted in 2015.

“As government, we are enthused that the implementation of these sustainable goals has brought about a unique experience through working with the United Nations. Added to that, we are working hand in pocket with the world governing body in the implementation of our economic blueprint, the ZimASSET, so that we achieve and attain agenda 2030,” Mnangagwa said.

He added that, in line with the SDGs’ theme of leaving no one behind, government is urging the participation of everyone, especially the vulnerable and marginalized groups, so as make the goals a reality.

Turning to agriculture, VP Mnangagwa said climate change has hampered crop production over the past few seasons and government has come up with the Command Agriculture program to support farmers and improve crop production as well as food sustainability. Mnangagwa said, “Food is central to the wellbeing of all human beings, hence it should be prioritized. Constitutionally, everyone has a right to clean food and water thus we have adopted the Command Agriculture program, which will bring in the long run, sustainable food production for the people.

“In addition, we are also trying to increase food self-sufficiency by building more dams across the country so that there is water harvest during the summer season. We have also embarked on dam de-silting and researching more on water harvest, said Mnangagwa.

He revealed that government, through the UN, has been focusing on issues to do with inclusivity to bring economic growth in rural areas and plans are under way to improve the quality of education in these marginalized areas.

Representing the young people Annah Matsika, from a youth platform called theSpace said, “Through our partnership with the United Nations, theSpace convened the first of its kind a Training of Trainers on SDGs for 120 Young Leaders from across Zimbabwe. The Jameson Hotel declaration to our collective pledge and strategy in ensuring that no young person is left behind instead for each young person to lead and frame the society we want to see in 2030.”

The UN supported training of trainers on SDGs for young people has since allowed many young people to mobilize themselves in their different communities and taking up initiatives towards achieving the SDGs.

Ms Matsika said, “We will not celebrate mainstreaming of young people, rather prioritization. We are also not naïve to ignore the inherent challenges that we are bound to face in execution of our work. Challenges such as economic strain and access to financial resources are at the core of youth programming.”

The 120 youth leaders who made a pledge on achieving SDGs placed at the core of their strategy embracing new technologies, approaches and addressing complex issues with simple answers as a better way for achieving the goals.

Young people occupy the biggest quartile of the population in Zimbabwe hence they are expected to play critical role in the fight to end poverty and the design of their future. Henceforth investing in these young people for both government, UN and other development partners has tremendous benefits not just for the legacy of the future generation but for our well-being of today.