The expression ‘Not being able to see the wood for the trees,’ according to the Cambridge English Dictionary, means that you are unable to understand a situation clearly because you are too involved. Well, here at the National Planning Commission (NPC), we have decided to make sure that this mistake does not befall us. We are tasked at the commission, at the behest of the Office of the President of Namibia, to roll out the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
It’s a hugely important multi-year and very challenging project. With a whopping 17 different goals to fulfill, it would be a tall order to target, execute and achieve all of them at the same time. The NPC is, therefore, taking a more pragmatic approach.
The choice has been made to focus on a few specific goals, as they will act as a flywheel or catalyst to achieve the other 12 goals in the coming years. The SDGs being focused on are no poverty, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, peace, justice and strong institutions and partnerships for goals.
It is essential that we eradicate poverty before we can even hope to achieve any of the other goals. Poverty lies at the root of most problems, and the more people we can lift out of poverty, the more we can thrive as a nation. Fundamentally, it is based on the principle of ‘leave no one behind’. The sooner we uplift the poorest of the poor, the sooner we can develop into a more equal society for everyone.
The inter-connectedness of the SDGs becomes very apparent when we look at the next SDG to focus on ‘decent work and economic growth’. If this can be realised by development, entrepreneurship and working together and investments, it means more people will find work, will be able to make a living, and contribute to our economic growth. This, in turn, is a driver for ‘no poverty.’
The NPC works together with its partners, both in the public and private sectors. One of the major partners is the German Development Corporation (GIZ), which assists with know-how, and people such as myself and a host of expert colleagues who are passionate about making the UN SDGs a reality. One that is very close to my own heart as a mother, grandmother and a woman looking to better our position within society is SDG 10: ‘reduced inequalities’. We must all be able to start life from a position of equality. Reducing these inequalities and eradicating inequality based on gender, race, religion or sexual preference creates a nation that gives everyone a fair shot at life.
All development activities and attempts to fulfil the SDGs will be irrelevant if SDG 16 is not embraced. Having peace, justice and strong institutions in a country is essential. It is the cornerstone of every democratic nation that is focused on socio-economic growth for its people. Experts work together with local institutions to create solid and fair mechanisms for people to pay tax, and have a transparent, strong and independent judiciary, for example. The Namibian nation needs to know it can count on its government and institutions. It goes without saying that none of us can prosper without peace!
Finally, the partnership for goals or SDG 17 as it is known highlights the importance of global macroeconomic stability and international investments to developing countries, as well as through strengthened domestic capacities for revenue collection. This doesn’t sound very exciting, but without a fair and proper tax structure and people paying their fair share, it would be impossible to invest in the country. This does not mean that Namibia, the government and other organisations are ignoring the other 12 SDG’s, but if we achieve these five SDGs, it will be so much easier to implement the others in the coming years.
That is of course the ultimate goal by 2030.