“India is working from an advantage to achieve the SDGs”
5 February 2019, New Delhi: The second National Conclave on Institutionalizing SDGs culminated yesterday at The Park, New Delhi. The conclave, co-hosted by United Nations in India, NITI Aayog, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and National Foundation for India (NFI) on 4th and 5th February 2019, was attended by over 300 participants and stakeholders ranging from the Government, Businesses, Academia and other civil society organizations. The sessions were designed to draw best practices, share experiences and identify potential strategies to work together on the SDG framework.
In the Inaugural Session, Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UN Resident Coordinator a.i. and UNICEF Representative in India and Ms. Annie Namala, Co-Convener, Wada Na Todo Abhiyan shared their special remarks. Dr. Haque made it clear that India’s success on the SDGs is crucial for the realization of the Agenda-2030 globally. She further stressed on the importance of businesses contributing towards SDGs and emphasized the value of harnessing the potential of young people in India.
Similarly, Ms. Namala made the audience realize how the framework of ‘Leave No One Behind’ is strongly reflective of the Indian constitution; and how far our country still has to go to uplift its most marginalized groups.
The discussions during the two days varied from integrating SDG framework into state planning, appropriate budgeting, monitoring and financing for SDGs, building institutional capacities to the contribution of technology and innovation to the SDGs as well as the role of communication and media in promoting sustainability.
On Day 1 representatives from Governments of Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, and Andaman & Nicobar shared performances of their states on the SDGs Index released by NITI Aayog and other state-level progress on SDGs. They also discussed the need for robust data collecting systems and the efficiency of the National Indicator Framework.
The panelists also discussed the importance of bridging the gaps between rural and urban local governments by including training, awareness programmes, university courses, and e-learning MOOC modules.
Dr. W.R. Reddy, Director General, National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, remarked about the need to establish a mechanism to collect and aggregate data, which will help in interlinking the SDGs.
Enough emphasis was also put on setting the priorities right while budgeting – most SDGs are linked to service delivery which requires budgetary adequacy. Similarly, determining accurate unit costs as benchmarks for is a pre-requisite for budgeting. The audience also showed agreement that measuring the right indicators for SDGs needs organisations and government to join hands to enhance efficiency.
Day 2 started with the session on “Leave No One Behind” which included noted activists, academicians and policy advocates like Mr. Praveen Kumar G, Ms. Zainab J Patel, Ms. Suneeta Dhar and Ms. Dipa Sinha representing the interests of marginalized and underrepresented groups. The session reflected on the need of the hour, promoting inclusivity and intersectionality of different groups in the field of policymaking to achieve Agenda 2030 successfully.
Other sessions of the day focused on the innovation and utilization of technology in the field of data collection and information infrastructure. Senior journalists like Ms. Radhika Bordia and Ms. Sutapa Deb presented their thoughts on the important role the media has to play in bringing together different stakeholders and actors to increase efficiency.
The conclave concluded with special remarks from Jagadananda Ji, a prominent social activist, and NITI Aayog’s Civil Society Working Committee Member, and Jashodhara Dasgupta, Executive Director, National Foundation for India. Jagada Ji, in his remarks, noted that if we all work together, we can ensure better results before the year 2030. He also asked the audience to reenergize themselves and renew their commitment to the global goals. Ms. Dasgupta reflected on the discussions of the conclave and requested NITI Aayog to accelerate collaboration with civil society. After thanking all the co-hosts and participants, the conclave was brought to an end.
Different thoughts and ideas that emerged from this conclave will thus make their way not only to the policy framework of local governments but also to the global discourse through United Nations and NITI Aayog. The commitment to sustainable development that different state governments, civil society organisations and other stakeholders have shown through such events sheds a light on the roadmap of SDGs in India.