Sustainable Development Goals mean people bringing development to themselves – says Graça Machel

Nov 17, 2016

The panelists Graça Machel, Marcia de Castro and former Foreign Affairs Minister, Leonardo Simao during the round-table

Mozambican social activist Graça Machel today defended that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will only succeed if the most poverty striven populations are involved in the solutions that will help them attain development.

“In order to meet this overarching agenda, we need to adopt a social pact and involve and commit all stake holders to act and for each individual to do his/her part”, said Graça Machel, appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to a group of eminent Sustainable Development Goals Advocates to help promote action to achieve the SDGs.

Ms. Machel, was speaking at the 11th Meeting of Foundations from Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), held in Maputo, Mozambique, from 15 to 17 November 2016, entitled “Foundations and the Global Agenda 2030.” The meeting had participants representing foundations from Angola, Portugal, Brazil, Guiné-Bissau, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe as well as host Mozambique.

It is not about doing things for people, it is about people being empowered to be in charge of their own destiny, said Machel, also a former Mozambique First Lady, the founder and president of the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) a local foundation. She argues that in addition to policies that value rural populations, meeting the goals set in Agenda 2030 involves identifying the exact number of people who need help to ensure the articulation of assistance plans.

She appealed for robust programmes that register children at birth saying there are still far too many people “who simply do not exist because they are not registered”. She asked the audience:  How could we have programmes to develop people if we do not even know how many people we are targeting, where they leave and the situation in which they find themselves in?”

Speaking under the same segment, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Mozambique, Marcia de Castro, outlined some collective challenges to attain the SDGs. She said: “The slowdown in economic growth at global and regional levels; the high dependence of local economies on the extractive sector, the fall in prices and the low commodities demand; the greater frequency and intensity of climatic phenomena such as droughts and floods, exacerbated by the El Nino phenomenon, are the face of the future already anticipated and affected by great climatic changes”.

“So what can we, as the human family do to achieve the objectives of Agenda 2030 and Agenda 2063 in these circumstances?” asked the UN representative, adding that the transformation and diversification of the economy are vital steps in building resilience to these and other shocks. The new sustainable development agenda offers alternatives, conditions and options for constructing more resilient human, economic, and environmental growth and development models, she explained.

She called the SDGs “an agenda of opportunities,” which require to set priorities in interpreting what each goal means for the country and how it will be achieved in the next 15 years. 

Ms. de Castro told the audience that some of the priorities include a strong political leadership at national and local levels, ensuring that no one is left behind, ensuring gender equality and the full involvement and participation of women, investing in youth and creating sustainable employment, engaging equally the urban populations and rural communities, developing strong partnerships, among others.

Officially known as “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” the SDGs are a set of seventeen aspirational "Global Goals" with 169 targets between them. Spearheaded by the United Nations, through a deliberative process involving its 193 Member States, as well as global civil society, the goals are part of the Post 2015 Development Agenda (successor to the Millennium Development Goals). These were adopted in 2015 a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.