Giving Impetus To CLAP Through Cross River Sustainable Development Goals BY AZOGOR IDEBA

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Azogor Ideba
Azogor Ideba

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also called Global Goals are a proposed set of targets relating to future international development. They are to replace the Millennium Development Goals once those expire at the end of 2015. The SDGs were first formally discussed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 (Rio+20).

On the 19th of July 2014, the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals forwarded a proposal for the SDGs to the Assembly. The proposal contained 17 goals with 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues. These included ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests etc.

Subsequently, on the 4th of December 2014, the UN General Assembly accepted the Secretary-General’s Synthesis Report which stated that the agenda for the post-2015 SDG process would be based on the OWG proposals.

The Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda (IGN) began in January 2015 and ended in August 2015. Following the negotiations, a final document was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit which held September 25–27, 2015 in New York, USA. The title of the agenda is Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tentatively, at the end of 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The SDGs are (1) Bringing an end to poverty in all its forms everywhere.

(2) Bringing an end to hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

(3) Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

(4)Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

(5) Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

(6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

(7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

(8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

(9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

(10) Reduce inequality within and among countries.

(11) Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

(12) Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

(13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

(14) Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

(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.

(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; and

(17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Before 2015, the development agenda was centred on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000.

The MDGs encapsulated eight globally agreed goals in the areas of poverty alleviation, education, gender equality and empowerment of women, child and maternal health, environmental sustainability, reducing HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases, and building a global partnership for development.

The MDGs were supposed to be achieved by 2015 after which they will give way for the SDGs to run from 2015 – 2030.

While I totally do not believe or see the United Nations, globally achieving the Sustainable Development Goals within 15 years like the Millennium Development Goals, SDGs can only be achieved by some individual member states given their level of commitment and enthusiasm as well as level of present development.

Suffice it to say that the success or failure of the SDGs is dependent on participating countries and there is no magic UN can do in any nation that is lackadaisical about its approach to implementing the SDGs.

As the SDGs are domesticated in respective countries, its success, on the other hand, is dependent on the zeal and commitment of the states to drive the process and sincerely not dependent on the countries any more.

The theme of the SDGs is ‘for People & Planet’, this means that the focus of the SDGs is to improve the wellbeing of the citizens of the world while helping to regenerate and make our planet better and more habitable.

The Cross River State House of Assembly thinking alike with providence through proactive and creative engineering aptly captured the essence of the SDGs in its legislative vision, and direction.

Like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the House Citizens Legislative Agenda Project (CLAP) is wholly people oriented. To authenticate this claim, 90% of Laws enacted so far by the House of Assembly are remarkably aimed at improving the living condition of the people, protecting the people from environmental, social and economic hazards, making Cross River environment and resources more productive and better secured. Generally, the people and the environment are visibly the inspiration for these laws.

It is amazing that both the Executive and the Legislature of the state are striking the right chords with no compromises at both ends. That the Executive cannot whip the House into submission or suppression, speaks volume of the character and quality of the governor of the state, His Excellency Ben Ayade.

That the House of Assembly for the first time is maintaining a high level of commitment to the people and as such is proactively thinking outside the box into posterity, is only but a testimony to what this vibrant Assembly is comprised of.

Yet both arms are working harmoniously for one interest – common good of the people. The thought pattern of honourable members tells of a flock that is intellectually buoyant, people-oriented, futuristic, selfless, committed, patriotic and destined to take the state to next enviable level while leaving imprints on the sands of time.

Implementing the SDGs is building better future for the state and people. If Cross River must achieve these global goals, there must be a sector by sector approach to all the goals. Every Ministry, Department and Agency must align with these goals. The government must fashion out deliberate policy that ensures that programmes and projects of the state are driven by the SDGs.

Core MDAs critical to the realisation of the SDGs must have desk offices/units that will help coordinates activities and monitor compliance. The offices will also represent the soon to be established Agency for Sustainable Development Goals in the state.

So far, the under listed are the bills passed by the Cross River State House of Assembly: (1) Cross River State Infrastructure Fund Bill 2015. (2) Cross River State Infrastructure Maintenance & Regulatory Agency 2015. (3) Cross River State Kidnapping (Prohibition) Bill 2015. (4) Cross River State Waterfront Infrastructure Management Agency Bill l 2015. (5) Cross River State Corporation Social Responsibility Bill 2015. (6) Cross River State Social Housing Scheme Bill 2015. (7) Cross River State Tax Exemption (Low Income Earners) Bill 2015. (8) Cross River State Wharf Landing Bill 2015. (9) Cross River Environmental Protection Bill.

Other bills under scrutiny are the CICC Bill, the Greater Calabar City Bill, and Elimination of Violence against Persons Bill, Child Protection Bill and the very prominent SDGs Bill among others.

Juxtaposing the 17 SDGs with the passed bills and others pending reveals a direct linkage or relationship. It appears the House anticipated the SDGs in all the bills passed and others pending because these bills collectively contain provisions that suggest that the Assembly had a vision of clairvoyance.

While it does not only stop at providing the legal framework that would help the realisation of SDGs in Cross River, the Assembly in collaboration with the Executive still have to fine tune certain areas and make adequate provisions including institutional and structural frameworks, to ensure smooth implementation of the SDGs regime in the state.

Aware of the afore-stated, the Speaker, Rt. Hon John Gaul Lebo who was accompanied by the Chairman, House Committee on SDGs, Hon. Peter Odey, to the recent UN’s 70th General Assembly, had inclined in faraway New York that ‘Cross River State must design its own model and concept of the SDGs around the philosophy and value chain of the 17 goals and 169 targets.

In designing this state model of SDGs, the following key steps will be crucially fundamental; (1) The state must present and analyse its End Point Report (EPR) of the Cross River- MDGs. (2) The State must admit areas of failures in the MDGs implementation scheme and learn from it. (3) The state must admit and identify some unfinished business in the MDGs and carry it forward. (4) The House must domesticate the 17 goals as part of the state development agenda and internalize or mainstream them.

(5) The State must identify further sustainable development agenda that is peculiar to our peculiar domestic need assessment. (6) The House must urgently develop various strategic institutional infrastructure and regulatory framework for the 17 goals. (7) The State must continue to build the Sector Wide Approach Strategy already passed by the 7th Assembly, which is now adapted to the SDGs. (8) The State must identify quick wins from the 17 goals of the SDGs and install a Success Strategy for the Cross River SDGs. (9) The State must utilised the Cross River Counterpart Fund Account Law (CFA) to finance the Cross River SDGs. (10) A strong Accountability framework, M & E, Legislative Oversight and Institutional capacity will be required.

If we can focus on this core issues, then we can be assured that we have instituted a Solution Architecture for Cross River-SDGs”.

Optimistically, these issues undoubtedly will be addressed and built into the forthcoming SDGs Bill being scrutinised by the House of Assembly. When this bill is finally passed, the state will be blazing the trail with a strong and effective backbone for the successful realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

More so, the Assembly aside giving impetus to the SDGs with already enacted laws and the expected Agency/Department of SDGs, must seek other laws to create complementary frameworks that will help facilitate the actualisation of the SDGs in the state.

The House must consider the SDGs goal by goal and the philosophy behind these goals in designing additional new laws. In every consideration, Citizens Legislative Agenda must be put in perspectives and must be properly integrated into the SDGs for far reaching impacts.

The Committee on SDGs which has Hon. Peter Odey as Chairman equally oversees Due Process which must be strictly followed, International Donor Support and Inter-Governmental Affairs which are very crucial to actualising these goals.

Hon. Odey and members of his committee have an uphill task ahead. This committee must see itself as the heart of the CR-SDGs and therefore must create and install an enduring and result oriented plan that will guarantee a prosperous Cross River through the SDGs.

These goals cannot be practically achieved in 15 years unlike the UN target but they are achievable if the Legislature in synergy with the Executive and other stakeholders can build strong sustainable legal and institutional designs that will engender the successful achievement of the SDGs in Cross River beyond 2030.

It should be noted that all 17 SDGs are connected to UNDP’s Strategic Plan which focuses on Sustainable Development, Democratic Governance and Peace Building; Climate and Disaster Resilience. Goals Number 1 on Poverty, Number 10 on Inequality and Number 16 on Governance, are particularly central to UNDP’s current work and long-term plans.

Therefore, Cross River having an integrated approach to enhance success across the multiple goals is crucial to achieving the SDGs, and the UNDP is uniquely placed to support that process in any country or state.

Now with the soon to be passed bill to provide a legal framework for full domestication of Sustainable Development Goals in the state, Cross River can be said to be ahead of others and already situated within the ambit of the UNDP’s attention and support.

Going forward, for Cross River State, it is believed that implementing the Sustainable Development Goals will be like living a vision because while other states may perhaps still be grappling with the reality of the dawn of the SDGs and how to articulate a policy implementation framework to enable the domestication of this Project, Cross River State was since positioned and already waiting.

The Assembly has the powers to make laws for the good governance of the state. It also has powers to enforce compliance of laws through the instrument of oversight, summon and resolution.

Hence, posterity will hold the present Cross River House Assembly responsible if the state fails to achieve the SDGs. Our action today determines our success tomorrow. The time to act is now!

Azogor Ideba is the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly and writes from Calabar

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