On September 25, 2015 world leaders from 193 nations including Afghanistan endorsed an ambitious agenda for global change called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs represent a fifteen-year agenda (2015-2030) to guide the international community in our shared efforts to achieve three objectives: end extreme poverty; fight inequality and injustice; and protect our planet. At the UN General Assembly, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, on behalf of the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - GoIRA, committed to pursuing these goals together with Afghanistan’s development partners.
Afghanistan continues to face major challenges in its pursuit of a better life for its people. Yet despite everything, over the past fifteen years, with the Millennium Development Goals as the backdrop, Afghanistan has witnessed some encouraging and noteworthy successes. For instance, there are more than 8 million children—boys and girls— in school today compared to a mere 70,000 in 2001. Life expectancy has increased from 45 to 62 years during this period. In 2001, one in four Afghan children would die before the age of five; today, it is one in ten – still an extremely high number when compared to other parts of the world, but a marked improvement from 15 years ago.
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With the approval of the Afghan Ministers cabinet on 7th October 2015, the Ministry of Economy (MoEc) has been designated as the lead ministry and focal point to take lead in coordinating, planning, monitoring and reporting on SDGs.In 2017, emphasis has been put on these aspects: nationalizing the SDGs and adjusting these to Afghanistan’s specificities; nonetheless, the need for a global approach has not been disregarded and consultations have been extended to all stakeholders engaged in the process of nationalizing the SDGs targets and indicators. The consultative and inclusive approach has been facilitated by the establishment of a national high-level coordination platform on SDGs - the Executive Committee on SDGs and its four corresponding technical working groups.
UNDP contributes to developing national development institutions capacities so that they can assess, plan, budget and respond to development priorities. With support from UNDP, the Ministry of Economy will strengthen its institutional capacity so that it can fulfill its mandates as the focal point of SDGs in coordinating, planning and monitoring the goals.
UNDP works with the ministry to nationalize the SDGs based on the country's priorities. It helps the ministry in aligning the nationalized SDGs with the national development strategies, planning / budgeting processes and enhances capacity at the Ministry of Economy to serve as the central repository for monitoring and reporting on SDGs. Further support is provided on the policy advocacy front to generate awareness on SDGs among all stakeholders: government, non-government, private and development partners.
What we have accomplished so far?
Since May 2016, UNDP has supported the MoEc in nationalizing the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda based on the country’s priorities as well as in setting up national level coordination structures; this process has eventually led to the issuance of nationalized SDGs’ targets and indicators. The SDGs were also aligned with the national development strategies, planning and budgeting processes to ensure that the progress along the development plans will denote progress on the SDGs.
Followings include, but are not limited to the milestones so far achieved:
- A national high-level coordination platform on SDGs - the Executive Committee on SDGs and its four corresponding technical working groups were established.
- SDG Board within the Ministry of Economy established, which is chaired by H.E. Minister or Deputy Minister of Policy, as a platform for key directorates and units engaged in the process of implementing the SDGs.
- Introduced SDGs to line ministries at central and provincial levels and determined the responsibility of each ministry/agency.
- All targets provided by line ministries and agencies are validated by the Central Statistics Office for accuracy.
- As a result of a series of consultations with line ministries and government agencies, SDG targets and indicators are finalized.
- A UN Agencies, Funds and Programs SDG sub-group established and started meeting regularly.
- A Monitoring and results-based planning framework developed at Ministry of Economy.
- The GoIRA also submitted a Voluntary National Review (VNR) to report on the progress made on the nationalization and implementation of the SDGs at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council in July 2017.