Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya, delivering his speech at the first Kenya 2020 Voluntary National Review process (Photo, UNDP Kenya/Nicholas Wilson)

On behalf of both the UN Country Team and UNDP, it is an honour and a privilege for me to be with you here today at the first workshop of the Kenya 2020 Voluntary National Review (VNR) Process – a very important national process not only in raising the profile of stakeholder engagements on Kenya’s progress towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but also in demonstrating the commitment by all of us here towards the country’s long-term development aspirations.

The year 2019 closed the first cycle of the 2030 Agenda implementation. In July, the High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) reviewed global progress on the last remaining set of SDGs and 142 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews. Two SDG progress reports have been produced which shed light on the progress the world is making to achieve the SDGs and highlight the areas that need our most urgent attention.

Both reports show that despite progress in a number of areas over the past four years, on some of the Goals, progress has been slow or even reversed. The most vulnerable people and countries continue to suffer the most and the global response has not been ambitious enough.

For instance, extreme poverty has reached the lowest point since its tracking began. And yet, at the current pace, we are still not on track to end poverty by 2030. Similarly, many countries are taking actions to protect our environment, but the health of our earth is still deteriorating at an alarming rate.

The Report of the Secretary General: The Special Edition of the Sustainable Development Goals Progress Report, is an official document mainly intended to inform the HLPF on progress towards the SDGs. Going beyond the usual data-driven analysis of progress, the special edition addressed the global response to the 2030 Agenda and the gaps and challenges encountered over the first cycle of its implementation. It also describes efforts necessary to accelerate SDG action. It highlights cross-cutting actions to advance progress on all the Goals and targets and help the ones who are falling behind.

The report was prepared by UN DESA, in cooperation with the UN system Task Team on HLPF, co-chaired by UN DESA and UNDP.

The Sustainable Development Report 2019 tells the stories of SDG progress with charts, infographics and maps, and presents an in-depth analysis of selected indicators. This report was prepared by UN DESA’s Statistics Division with inputs from more than 50 international and regional organizations. In addition to the global trends, this report also highlights regional progress and analyses.

Moving now to Kenya and as you may be aware, Kenya presented the first Voluntary National Review (VNR) report at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2017 which reported on 128 indicators out of 232 indicators.  This year, the country is among the 23 others out of 50 that will present their second VNRs at the HLPF in July.

The Voluntary National Review is a process whose success is built on many factors, most importantly, the diversity of stakeholders involved, and the quality of data used. The presence of all of you here from different constituencies is an indication that we are starting off on a positive footing.

Although voluntary in nature, the exercise to produce “SDGs status reports” like the VNR is a very important process - it contributes to stimulating broader engagement, commitment and support towards implementation of Agenda 2030.

The VNR process also helps the country to track progress being made against the SDGs targets and explore options for accelerating national efforts towards off-target SDGs which are critical for Kenya’s success in keeping her SDGs promise.

As in 2017, the exercise we are embarking on today presents us with an opportunity to strengthen partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs and increase stakeholder engagement beyond the VNR process. In this connection, I would like to underscore the importance of countries putting in place robust SDG Institutional Coordination Mechanisms bringing all stakeholders here on an ongoing basis to ensure effective implementation of the SDGs and I will talk to this more later.

I would like to urge us here to utilize lessons learnt from the 2017 VNR process and 2019 SDGs Progress Report in undertaking the 2020 VNR process.

As part of the on-going UN a reform efforts now in the second year, United Nations Member States, including Kenya, mandated UNDP to provide an “integrator function” for the SDGs. We have a responsibility to the country and the wider UN family in Kenya in ensuring that Kenya remains on track in achieving the SDGs targets and we take this responsibility very seriously, with this workshop being a case in point.

We will therefore provide the needed leadership and support to the Government and people of Kenya to ensure that the preparation processes of the VNR is utilized to strengthen policy coherence and multi-stakeholder engagement.

To develop a good VNR Report, it is vital to have a clear and inclusive process. A process that will include everyone in this room as well as the full range of Government Ministries and Departments, local leaders, civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), academia, private sector, development partners and UN agencies.

We know that ending poverty must go together with strategies that build sustainable economic growth and address a range of social needs including education, health, gender equality and decent job opportunities, while tackling climate change and working to protect our land, oceans and forests.

This is what the SDGs are about. By the end of this workshop, I hope that all of us will have a clearer sense of why the SDGs are important and how together we are going to move towards the production of the VNR report, including the key steps and milestones we need to meet.

When world leaders launched the SDGs in 2015, they stated: “We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty; just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet.”

World leaders gave themselves until the year 2030 to meet these ambitious goals. It is only 10 years away as we now enter the decade of action – a child entering school this year has every right to hope that by the time they finish school, they will not live in poverty; they can hope for a job; a clean and sustainable environment; a home free from violence and hopelessness.

In closing, I would like to set the tone of this workshop by reminding everyone that the aspirational nature of the 2030 Agenda, along with the broad scope and interlinked nature of the SDGs calls for rethinking governmental strategies and for applying different approaches to governance, based on the principles of accountability, innovation, integration, and collaboration.

The multi and cross-sector nature of the SDGs covering multiple policy areas, requires strong collaboration among all parts of government, along with institutions, the business sector and Civil Society. Leaving no one behind (LNOB) necessitates a whole of government and a whole of society approach, where all ministries, public agencies and the public at large are involved in the decision-making process.  The limited resources available at the national level require a special focus on budgeting and financing to ensure an effective implementation of the SDGs.

It is in this context that many countries have started introducing or adjusting interinstitutional structures to provide a holistic view of the national realities and shape better coordinated, and when possible, integrated and broadly owned policies. Creating greater transparency and managing power relationships will be critical. Such work, however, would need to be supported by evidence, tools and knowledge helping improve understanding and evaluation of the cross-sectoral impacts of various policies.

In line with the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), UNDP, together with other UN Agencies, will support the National Treasury and Planning to strengthen its institutional coordination mechanism for the implementation of the Medium Term Plan III (MTP III) 2018-2022, the Big 4 Agenda, County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) and SDGs, to ensure a whole of Government and Society approach, where all ministries, public agencies and the public at large are involved in the decision making processes.  

Asenteni Sana

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