In Nigeria, we have begun evaluation of our progress towards achievement of specific Sustainable Development Goals on which our country has decided to focus.
As the first country in the global South to have embarked on this process, we had the opportunity to present our experience at the July 2019 United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF) held in New York. The HLPF is a yearly meeting of UN member countries designed to support implementation and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
To start with, I highlighted how the whole process of adopting the SDGs and launching an evaluation to improve our understanding of the “whys” and “hows” of meeting these goals is more a political, rather than a technocratic, endeavor. Any government implementing the SDGs should be motivated to take them on board as part of its political programme, consequently aligning national priorities with them, taking actions to move towards their achievement and undertaking evaluation of national efforts and progress.
Evaluation helps to hold a government accountable to citizens and stakeholders. In particular, it opens a transparent process of assessment of the direction taken by the government towards these goals and their outcomes. Of course, each country is different and models and approaches can vary. However, the steps taken by Nigeria could provide some ideas for others.
Soon after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, we commissioned a baseline study of all SDGs and their indicators. This baseline helped us to identify the areas that we most needed to address and to support the necessary realignment of the National Statistical System with the requirements of the SDG indicators. The baseline report is available at: http://www.ng.undp.org/content/nigeria/en/home/library/mdg/nigeria-sdgs-indicators-baseline-report-2016.html.
In parallel, the political process moved forward and the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs was created in early 2016. This office has the mandate to work closely with Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to ensure coherence between sectoral policies and programmes and the SDGs. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the SDG-implementation process, Nigeria found itself in an economic recession. In developing the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) (2017-2020), the government seized the opportunity to integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of the SDGs.
In consultation with senior officials of relevant, national MDAs and representatives of UN and Development Partner Institutions, we identified five (5) SDGs that are closely linked to the country’s national development priorities as captured in the ERGP. These are: SDG 1, SDG 3, SDG 4, SDG 5, SDG 8 (no poverty; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality, and decent work and economic growth, respectively). These SDGs speak directly to the three (3) cardinal objectives of the ERGP.
At the same time, as a country, we realized that an independent SDG evaluation would allow us to reflect on the directions taken and to learn from our experiences so far. It would also improve government accountability and provide evidence-based information to include in the next Voluntary National Report (VNR), the main instrument identified by the Agenda 2030 for follow-up and review of the SDGs and their targets. Key national stakeholders gathered at a capacity development workshop on SDG evaluation prioritized three SDGs for this independent evaluation: SDG-1, which is strictly tied to the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) and to the ERGP; SDG-3, linked to the Nigeria Strategic Health Development Plan, and SDG-4 implemented though the Nigeria Education Sector Strategic Plan.
The picture below shows the criteria we adopted in selecting the SDGs to undergo evaluation. The procurement process is currently ongoing and we expect the outcome of the independent evaluation to be ready in February 2020.
To know more you can access the recording of the event, which also includes the presentation of Finland’s experience with evaluation of the SDGs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwroM-tDCFQ
Bala Yusuf Yunusa
Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs