As the world moves closer to the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stakeholders have called for more private sector investments in order to fast-track the attainment of the goals by 2030.
They made the calls at the Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja on Tuesday.
Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, senior special assistant to the President on SDGs, said there was a need for all groups and individuals, private sector bodies to increase investment towards improving the livelihood of all Nigerians.
According to her, private sector investment has become crucial to achieving SDGs, as the government focuses on implementing the Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs).
She said: “We need the support of the private sector in terms of resource mobilisation, and expertise needed to achieve the SDGs. We need to work together to accelerate the achievements.
“We need the private sector to create jobs for our young jobless people; it is critical for us to ensure that we create good jobs as this will address other goals. Creating good jobs will eradicate poverty, and if a man has a good job, he will eat well, and be able to send his children to school. So, we want the private sector to create jobs.”
The SDGs, which were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, aim to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests.
The goals include no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, decent work and economic growth.
Orelope-Adefulire said achieving the SDGs requires the involvement of both national and subnational governments. This, according to her, will help the sub-national governments to understand its importance and take ownership of the process.
She said the government will collaborate more closely with the private sector to finance the SDGs, which require $100 billion annually, adding that the government will also begin implementing the INFFs.
She said: “Currently, the seed financing for INFFs is being put in place; both the private and public sectors must work together to accelerate progress on SDGs.
“Nigeria has been challenged with the recession in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As a government, we have put in place framework and action plans, but it is sad to note that globally, we have only achieved 15 percent of these goals.
“In Nigeria, we have done well by putting in an institutional framework to guide us both at the national and subnational levels. But most of the problems are at the subnational level because we are supposed to address the issue using the bottom-up approach.”
Zouera Youssoufou, managing director at Aliko Dangote Foundation, said Nigeria has not made enough progress in achieving the goals, which are majorly about human capital development and optimising economic growth.
She stressed the need for stakeholders to focus on achieving outcomes such as health and education as key drivers of attaining the other goals.
She said: “The first 1,000 days of life of a child is the critical time when the potential of the child is developed. So, if the mother is malnourished, it affects the child and we have a lot of these in Nigeria.
“So the first priority for me is health and education, and then others. When those two are sorted, then we have a chance to make progress. Starting with the basics is necessary; no matter how much you invest in education, if the children are not healthy they may not be impacted.”
Speaking on the best approach to achieving the SDGs, Youssoufou said there is a need for a different approach in addressing these issues as there are different environmental factors in Nigeria.
“For example, we have more people affected by malnutrition in the North than in the South. So, we need to work with the communities to understand what affects them directly.”
Nonso Obikili, a development coordination officer and economist at the United Nations, emphasised the critical role of data in achieving the SDGs. He also highlighted the importance of subnational governments in the process to ensure adequate data-gathering.
He said even though a lot of effort has gone into achieving these goals, there was a need for an accelerated effort to drive impactful gains.
“We need to look at initiatives that are cross-cutting to address poverty and hunger. It is not just a government agenda but the private sector, civil societies need to support this move.”
He also noted inadequate financing as a major challenge affecting the attainment of SDGs in Nigeria.