UN High Level Symposium in Uganda affirms national leadership, mutual trust, and partnership to achieve SDGs

Nov 6, 2015

Rt Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda, Prime Minister of Uganda (middle) standing with Mr Oh Joon (left) President of the UN Economic and Social Council; and Mr Wu Hongbo (right), UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and representatives from other countries, soon after the official opening of the Development Cooperation Forum High-Level Symposium, November 5, 2015 at the Commonwealth Resort in Munyonyo, Kampala – Uganda (UNDP Uganda Photo).

KAMPALA – What are the possibilities and practical ways to strengthen global and local partnerships to make the Sustainable Development Goals  a reality for the world’s people?

This was the question at the heart of discussions at the United Nations Development Cooperation’s High Level Symposium that took place in Kampala from November 5 to 6th at the Commonwealth Resort, on the shores of Lake Victoria, in Munyonyo.

More than 200 representatives from governments, civil society, the private sector and international organizations, including the United Nations shared global and local experiences on how to revitalize the partnership to achieve the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Strong calls were made to promote homespun priorities aligned to national and local development planning, which can be funded from a blend of financing including locally generated revenue to complement overseas development assistance to achieve the new Global Goals.

Delegates also stressed the importance of increasing advocacy and public awareness, building trust, cultivating leadership, adjusting policies, investing in data collection (also focusing on qualitative lived experiences of people) to improve, tracking, monitoring and reporting of results.

The Sustainable Development Agenda, also known as Agenda 2030, comprises 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169, adopted by countries at the September UN General Assembly in New York to guide development efforts, and funding decisions for the next 15 years.

Building on the success of the Millennium Development Goals, which have now expired after a 15-year run, the SDG or Global Goals, are intended to leave no one behind in their aspiration to end poverty once for all, protect the planet and ensure that all human beings enjoy peace and prosperity.

“The Agenda calls for concerted efforts to realize sustainable development for all societies, leaving no one behind. It resonates greatly with the realities and ambitions of all people, especially those in vulnerable and fragile situations,” said Mr Oh Joon, the current President of the UN Economic and Social Council.

Mr. Oh, who is also the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations, explained that ECOSOC, is committed to supporting efforts to translate and align the sustainable development agenda at all levels.

In his remarks, Mr Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said success and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals requires solidarity and policies – both global and local – that fit for scale, and that put people at the heart of development efforts and decisions.

“The Development Cooperation Forum offers the platform for all actors, public and private, North and South, to learn and exchange,” noted Mr Wu, adding that the outcomes of the Symposium will feed in to the global review of the 2030 Agenda, which will be undertaken every four years.

At the official opening of the Symposium, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt Hon Ruhakana Rugunda, applauded the decision to hold the high-level event in Uganda, revealing that Uganda has led in mobilising the global community to adopt the SDGs under the leadership of the former UN General Assembly President and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon Sam Kutesa.

Uganda, he noted, is also the first country to localise the SDGs in its national planning framework – the second National Development Plan (NDPII), launched jointly with the UN Country Development Assistance Framework in June 2015 by President Yoweri Museveni during the National Budget Reading. UNDP Uganda provided significant technical and financial support to the National Planning Authority towards the preparation and launch of the NDPII as well as substantial financial and technical contribution towards the organisation of the Development Cooperation Forum in Kampala, along with the Belgian Technical Cooperation.

It is widely acknowledged that the means of implementation of the SDGs are critical for its localisation and success, as countries will require to mobilise resources beyond foreign aid, as called for in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July this year.

“This High-Level Symposium provides a first opportunity to discuss, under the United Nations auspices, and with participation of all development cooperation actors, the implementation of the Financing for Development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, and what it means in terms of challenges and opportunities for development cooperation in Africa,” he said, pointing to the critical role of financing – both using local and global sources – with an emphasis on partnership to realise  the SDGs and their targets.

In the past, this partnership has been limited largely to cooperation between governments either at a bilateral or multilateral level. Under the 2030 Agenda, this understanding however, has been broadened to bring together governments, the private sector, civil society, the United Nations system and other actors.

Using a mixture of presentations and interactive panel discussions, the Symposium, engaged delegates in discussions on how to engage youth, women, civil society, private sector and other actors to effectively implement and localise Agenda 2030 to ensure we leave no one behind.

Mr Michael O’Neill, Assistant Secretary-General and Assistant Administrator, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, UNDP, said, “there is need to strengthen incentives for private sector to support Agenda 2030, and to strengthen tax systems to raise domestic resources and help curb illicit financial flows – key to ensuring sustainability of SDGs”.

A member of the panel examining how to effectively monitor private sector, other non-state actors and blended financing, Mr O’Neill called for engagement to be aligned to the Busan Partnership Agreement (2011) which established the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation based on several principles to be upheld and respected by all development actors. These include: country leadership and ownership of development strategies, a focus on results that matter to the poor in developing countries, inclusive partnerships among development actors based on mutual trust, and transparency and accountability to one another.

The DCF Symposium, is the principal platform for global policy dialogue on development cooperation. It engages all stakeholders to review trends and progress in development cooperation. The Kampala meeting is one of three global engagements that will contribute to the 5th High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, to be held in New York in July 2016.

Themed on “Development Cooperation for a new era: Making the renewed global partnership for sustainable development a reality,” the Symposium was co-organized by the Government of Uganda and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  

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