Photo: Prof. Bibek Debroy, Member, NITI Aayog speaking at the National Consultation on Road to Sustainable Development Goals: Focus on Health and Education (SDG 3 and 4). Also seen in picture (from left to right) are Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS; Prof. TCA Anant, Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation; Ms. Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs; Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India; and Mr. P K Anand, Sr. Consultant, NITI Aayog
NITI Aayog, Research and Information System for Developing Countries and the United Nations in India held the first national consultation on the Sustainable Development Goals in New Delhi on 9-10 February 2016. The National Consultation on Road to Sustainable Development Goals focused on the health and education Goals (SDG 3 and 4), and experts from the Government, researchers, development professionals and representatives from the field shared experiences and explored strategies to implement the Sustainable Development Goals in India.
In September 2015, the Prime Minister of India along with the world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030. Building on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the new SDGs and the broader sustainability agenda, would go much further than the MDGs, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people. The global agenda has been set and now it is the responsibility of the individual countries to take it forward to meet their own development targets.
“The global agenda is built on three pillars – economic, social and environmental and the goals can be met only when all regions take up the responsibility to implement these. Eight Indian states have already expressed their desire to use the SDGs methodologies to examine their level of development”, said Mr. Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in India. “There is no recipe and answer to challenges in meeting the Goals. There is a need to learn from each other’s experiences. Health and Education are big priorities and the first steps in the journey”, he added.
Technology is key to enabling countries to achieve the SDGs. Ms. Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India said that in the adoption of the SDGs, India safeguarded the interest of the developing countries by ensuring that they have access to technology. “The technology facilitation mechanism was incorporated in the process and is important for developing countries for technology cooperation and transfer”, she said.
“With India’s history of cooperation with other developing counties, India has an active role to play in the successful implementation and achievement of the SDGs”, said Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS.
Prof. Bibek Debroy, Member, NITI Aayog said, “States and the Centre have to work together for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, which are extremely important for ensuring inclusive economic growth through social equality, of which health is a crucial factor. India’s Human Development Indices (HDI) improved due to increase in per capita income and not due to education or health. India’s big collective concern is health”. Prof. Debroy raised three key – the unavailability of disaggregated data on health; concerns due to health being a State subject, which raises the need for collective action given disparities in level of development with States; and financing the implementation of the SDGs.
Prof. TCA Anant, Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) highlighted that India needs a robust framework for data collection as the implementation of SDGs requires appropriate indicators to track and report progress.
Rich discussions were held on the SDGs and the many issues facing India in the areas of health and education. The national consultation was the first interactive session, bringing together diverse stakeholders, to work towards the implementation of the SDGs.