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UNDP Commends Nigeria’s Alignment With UN’s Agenda To Implement Sustainable Development Goals

“UNDP has fire in the belly to push the development agenda of Nigeria forward,” says UNDP Representative, Attufuah.

The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria, Elsie Attufuah has commended Nigeria’s progress in response to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Her words of commendation were showered during an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, while discussing Nigeria’s alignment with the UN Secretary-General’s call for a “rescue plan” to accelerate progress towards the SDGs.

“What are the sustainable development goals? It is indeed the most ambitious blueprint that we have for peace and prosperity for people on earth which has been approved by over 190 countries of which our wonderful country Nigeria is part of.

“How can Nigeria, and I think by extension, the world today, get out of this situation that we are in with a mixed picture of the sustainable development goals? The first one is what Nigeria is already aligned to in terms of the secretary general’s agenda of the United Nations. Basically, what the secretary general is calling for is a rescue plan and that governments, heads of states must be able to put in ambitious plans to rescue the sustainable development goals and I think Nigeria is already on that pathway in terms of its own response to the SDD.

“What does it mean to rescue the SDDs? It means we have to do a number of things. The secretary general calls for governments to put together what we call integrated policies and programming. In other words, you cannot say do agriculture alone without looking at the links between agriculture and for example trade, the link between agriculture and for example energy. So you need to foster that inter-collaboration across sectors, across programs in the country. But also importantly, to address issues around strengthening institutional capacity to be able to address the challenge that we are facing, both at the national level and also at the sub national level. We see that Nigeria is already doing some of these things. Institutional capacity building is one of the things that we called for to do and Nigeria is doing that.

“The other thing that is called for is to reform the global architecture. Things need to be different the way we are doing things and Nigeria is at the forefront of conversations now around what we can collectively do. Recently, the Minister of Finance joined us, which is this leadership role that Nigeria is leading, to say what do we need to do to make sure that the reforms are there to push the development agenda for?

“Nigeria is already on that pathway and I should say that the renewed hope agenda, which His Excellency the president has put forward is one of those that we should be able to run a galvanised support using those instruments that have been proposed, to be able to move that agenda forward. I think we can already see some of those in terms of devolution of power, where if you take for example, the new electricity act which is devolving power to the state, it is one of those instruments that will allow us then to be able to bridge a gap when it comes to energy access and energy transition.”

She also highlighted the technological advancements in Nigeria, particularly in areas like artificial intelligence (AI), which suggest Nigeria’s proactive stance in leveraging technology for societal progress and positions it as a leader in driving the future of development.

“We have technology, which is on our side here. Very youthful population here who are really sparking the digital revolution here in Nigeria. We are just coming out of a meeting this week that honourable Bosun is putting together on artificial intelligence. I don’t think there is any African country yet in that space pushing the conversation around AI and the way we can link AI for example to health, to education, to democracy, diaspora and many more.”

Concerning UNDP’s commitment to advancing Nigeria’s development agenda and its top priority areas for the country, she noted some key areas of change, which include addressing structural transformation, focusing on the youthful population, building resilience in the face of multiple crises including economic and agricultural resilience.

“UNDP has fire in the belly to push the development agenda of Nigeria forward. We are here and our priority is to support the government’s development agenda. Therefore as the largest development agency in the United Nations family, we bring our full assets including our partnership with our sister agencies, United Nations family under the resident coordinator to be able to support the government of Nigeria. There are three directions of change if I may call it so, that we rally our efforts around as sort of the principle. First of all, we want to push structural transformation. In other words, we’ve been doing development over and over the same way and we are not seeing much difference and therefore for us, it’s why do things not work? We don’t have to focus on the symptoms but on the causes and therefore our priority is to really push that structural transformation agenda forward and that’s what we’ll be doing in terms of supporting the government’s development agenda. But also importantly, the whole notion around leaving no one behind. We always talk about it as if it’s a cliché. Leaving no one behind means where are they? We need to focus on the priority areas including the youthful population in this country, women, persons with disabilities. Therefore, strong focus on leaving no one behind becomes a priority for us. But also importantly, in terms of the direction of change is to focus on the issue around resilience and especially in the time that we are battling multiple crises.

“What does it mean to build resilience to crisis and shocks? Making sure that we have economic resilience, agriculture resilience and many more. And so these are sort of the three directions of change that we are preoccupied with. But what does it mean translating that practically on the ground? We can’t do everything but we want to be able to give energy and push to things that matter and do unusual development. What does it mean? There are about three areas or four that we are concerned about and of course we are working with the government.

“We are very much interested in the area of energy. You cannot push a development agenda if there is no energy. There could be no trade that is sustainable when there is no energy. Energy is an integrator linked to health, linked to education, linked to trade and many more. Therefore, with the new vision the country has through the electricity act, we will rally our energies around that including supporting states to make sure it happens through their legal and regulatory instruments, but also crowding in financing and investments to make it happen and so that’s the priority area for us.

“We certainly will be looking into the era of climate and climate resilience. One of the most compelling development challenges of all times is on climate change and for us, building climate resilience including the links between climate and security becomes very important and so that’s one of the sort of broad cluster of work that we are interested in. We are also interested in the area of trade and investment. Africa is 1.4 billion people. We only trade amongst ourselves only 16%. How do we make sure that we are able to trade amongst African countries a lot more and retain wealth in the continent, build regional value chains that matter? Therefore, we are very much concerned and we’ll be supporting the African continental free trade area agreement, but also more broadly trade and investment, because there’s no country that has developed without trading amongst its neighbour. Trade is a very important component of our work. The third cluster which is of interest to us and UNDP will be again supporting development partners, with our sister agencies in partnership with our resident coordinator. It is a question around governance and when we talk about governance, people always think that governance is elections. Governance goes beyond that. We are very interested in governance from different points of view, particularly the issue around devolution of power which we’re beginning to see now with the state moving to electricity act used in a conversation around state policing. These are perhaps some of the broad thematics in addition to the work that we are doing particularly on stabilisation in the northeast and in the northwest.”

Melissa Enoch

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