9 February 2016, New Delhi: 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.
With the aim of creating awareness and simultaneously exploring the implementation strategies at the Centre and in the States, RIS is organising a National Consultation on Road to Sustainable Development Goals, particularly focussing on Health and Education (SDG 3 and 4), in association with NITI Aayog, Government of India and the UN in India on 9-10 February 2016.
Starting today, the two-day national consultation aims to chalk the way forward for India and to come up with a positive agenda for implementing these SDGs within the existing policy framework of India.
Prof. Bibek Debroy, Member, NITI Aayog in his inaugural address stressed that States and the Centre have to work together for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals which are extremely important for ensuring inclusive economic growth through social equality, of which health is a crucial factor. Global agenda setting is important but each country specifications are even more important. He added that our priority is based on our presumption. He said we need to look at our priorities to use the available resources to the fullest. If we refer back to Human Development Indices (HDI) for India as reflected in the Human Development Reports, we will find that these were improved due to increase in per capita income and not because of education or health. India’s big collective concern is health, not to mention that all other sectors are doing fine, he added. Redesigning the templates for State level specificities is the need of the hour. He also emphasised on the need of consultations throughout India. He further mentioned we still do not have critical data sources and we cannot build those quickly. There is need to zero in on districts, and even to blocks for data collection and implementation of SDGs.
He concluded by highlighting three concerns – unavailability of disaggregated data on health unlike in education; health being a State subject and hence need for collective action given disparities in level of development with States; and provisioning and financing of SDGS.
Ms. Sujata Mehta, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India in her address underlined that in adoption of 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.
In his special address Prof. TCA Anant, Chief Statistician of India and Secretary, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), Government of India said that SDGs are also reflective of the India’s aspirations. Highlighting the importance of Indicators in tracking and correctly reporting the process he said that indicators on the achievements and progress are either missing or are pointing to other dimensions. Good policy requires well thought out and calibrated indicators. The last 60 years, India’s capacity of data collection and analysis has improved tremendously. He further said that we need selectivity in choosing the SDGs to be implemented in wake of India’s priorities and limited resources. He reminded that SDGs are about global obligation and not only associated with the developing world. He also emphasised on the need to have a robust management framework for data collection within states.
Prof. Sachin Chaturvedi, Director General, RIS informed the gathering that RIS in its work programme has focussed on all 17 goals and has spearheaded the discussions at the FfD3, SDG Summit in New York and COP21. He underlined that starting from Addis Abba, RIS has taken forward discussions on as to how to move forward on SDGs and implement them. He also added that India’s achievement on Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) is clearly visible and RIS is working on developing the idea and the framework of the TFM. Following India’s history of cooperation with other developing counties it has to play an active role in successful implementation and achievement of SDGs. He also cited the example of India’s knowledge of traditional medicine which could help giving larger access to medicines for achieving the health goal.
The road to achieve the SDGs is not an easy one as there are numerous linkages within the goals and much more so in targets said Mr. P K Anand, Sr. Consultant, NITI Aayog. He highlighted the importance to learn from the success examples within our country like that of Kerala, particularly in the Health sector. He also emphasised that when we try to achieve the goals we have to be mindful of their impact on other Goals.
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, informed 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 need to learn from each others’ experiences. Health and Education are big priorities and probably the first step in the journey, he added.