Governors of Nigeria's states can locally implement UN sustainable development goals, says Ban

Young women and girls carry water in Nigeria. Photo: World Bank

23 August 2015 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled over the weekend to Abuja, Nigeria, where today he met state Governors who, he said, can play a “fundamental role” in shaping the future of their country by implementing the sustainable development agenda Members States will adopt in a month in New York.

“You have the resources and the power to help the people of Nigeria realize the tremendous promise of this great country – on education, on health care, on women's empowerment, on climate change, on governance, institution-building, security and on rights across the board,” stated Mr. Ban in his remarks.

Stressing that he was speaking at a time of great challenges – including the rise of extremism and the lack of equal opportunity – he acknowledged that the Governors of the Northeast, in particular Borno state, Mr. Ban assured that this was also a “time of hope,” as the peaceful democratic transition of power in Nigeria showed.

Reminding Governors that, over the past few weeks, UN Member States agreed on a new financing for development plan and on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he pointed out that the latter would be adopted be formally adopted by world leaders in New York in September, while governments will meet in Paris in December to agree on a new far-reaching climate change agreement.

“Together, these three processes provide an opportunity to put the world on a sustainable pathway fostering human prosperity while protecting our planet,” the Secretary-General continued.

In that regard, local governments have an important role to play in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, he added, emphasizing five essential ways for Nigeria to “build on your advances and sustain that momentum.”

First, the universal framework will have to be tailored to national circumstances to live up to its promise to be an agenda “of the people, for the people, and by the people” that leaves no one behind. Sub-national and local governments, he assured, will play a major role in the national tailoring process and in ensuring that this process is participatory and inclusive.

“Second, we need to work together to establish a revitalized global partnership for development. Each of you is crucial for engaging local civil society organizations and the private sector in the implementation of the goals at local level.”

Third, the UN top official explained, sub-national and local governments can help ensure that the limited available funds are targeted at the most vulnerable and marginalized who are often hard to reach, in particular ensuring health, education, empowerment and equality for women and girls.

“That leads to my fourth point – institutionalizing gender mainstreaming across all government ministries and bodies responsible for implementing agenda 2030, with effective means of implementation and capacities for monitoring progress.”

Fifth, he noted, Governors can support the follow-up and review process by “feeding inputs” directly into the review and by helping to ensure the quality of data by investing in institutions and using big data to inform better planning and decision making.

“Accurate data will also allow us to better respond to new and unforeseen challenges,” Mr. Ban observed.

“This is a crucial moment for Nigeria. You face many serious challenges, but you have also taken a hugely important step to move forward in a way that can respond to the aspirations of the country's people. I am eager to hear your views on how you think you can best achieve this universal and ambitious agenda,” he concluded.


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