UN implored to start a media forum on SDGs in Uganda

Sep 15, 2015

Tony Muhumuza, UNDP’s National Economist called upon the journalists to keep communicating about the SDGs so as to create national awareness on them. He pointed out programmes such as NTV’s Peoples’ Parliament which was highlight social issues such as service provision that the SDGs also address. Inset is Ms. Esperance Fundira, the UNFPA Country Representative who delivered opening remarks on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie. (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda 2015).

Kampala – Local journalists have implored the United Nations in Uganda to help them set up a discussion space on Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This was during the first media orientation on Agenda 2030 organised by the United Nations Communications Group (UNCG) in Uganda.

“International media houses like Reuters have set up pages on social media sites such as face book as a forums for discussions on SDGs and I believe that something like this will be helpful for us in Uganda too as part of creating awareness,” Christopher Bendana, a journalist with New Vision shared.

The orientation which attracted over 30 journalists from various media was intended to build their awareness on the SDGs and lay the foundation for them to actively contribute to the local understanding of this new global development agenda.

“Because of your critical role in influencing opinions, policy and individual actions, we thought that it was critical to meet with you to reflect on the next development agenda,” explained Ms. Esperance Fundira, the UNFPA representative while delivering the opening remarks on behalf of Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative.

She noted that through raising awareness about the development agenda, challenges and stimulating debate on solutions, the media is making a valuable contribution to the development of Uganda, and is therefore a crucial partner in ensuring a successful start and implementation of the SDGs.

Ms. Fundira informed the journalists that this new set of 17 universal goals, 169 targets and indicators seeks to build on the unfinished agenda of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) whose mandate ends in December 2015, and to complete what they did not achieve.

“Unlike the MDGs which were developed using a top-down approach,” she said, “the SDGs were developed in a highly participatory manner, involving millions of people all over the world in a bottom-up approach. That is why it is the responsibility of everyone to committee to actualizing the agenda.”

Agenda 2030 sets forth “a plan of action for people, the planet and prosperity” and “seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom hence framing the global agenda and political policies over the next 15 years.

“As journalists, you can contribute greatly to the attainment of the SDGs in Uganda by 2030 by building public awareness, setting the agenda and engaging national and sub-national stakeholders,” Ms. Fundira emphasized.

Uganda is already one step ahead of many countries globally on the localization of SDGs into the local development plans. The SDGs have been integrated into the National Development Plan II (NDP II - 2015-2020) and there has been high level dialogue to draw up plans to mobilise financing for their implementation, with a focus on local revenues.

Speaking about Uganda’s journey from MDGs to SDGs, Dr. Tony Muhumuza UNDP’s National Economist told the media that Uganda had involved not just central government but also the local governments that shoulder the bulk of service delivery. SDGs were also discussed with the Civil Society, religious leaders and youth leaders.

Dr. Muhumuza stressed that the UN’s role would revolve around working with Government to find new avenues of financing for sustainable development, building partnerships particularly south-to-south cooperation to share experiences on implementation, and promote a data revolution to aid SDG implementation and monitoring with real time statistics, and finally communicating the SDGs to all.

“Let us communicate, communicate and communicate until we make these SDGs famous,” Dr. Muhumuza appealed to the media.

Apart from forming a forum, journalists called on the UN to link them to both technical and financial resources that would facilitate their communication on the SDGs all over the country.

“I have learnt a lot about the Sustainable Development Goals today and I am going to use this information to create stories particularly on issues of the climate change and the environment,” Moses Akena of NTV Uganda said.

The SDGs will be launched on 28th September when the 193 Heads of State who make up the United Nations converge in New York at a historic General Assembly to usher in this new global development agenda.

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