By: Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan
Under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria, occupying the current seat of the Presidency of the UN Security Council and the 99th member State of the UN Organization, admitted in 1960, will join the rest of the World in September 2015 at the UN Summit Meeting in New York, to adopt a historic decision on a comprehensive, far- reaching and people- centred set of universal and transformative sustainable development goals and targets.
After months of tireless intergovernmental negotiations, and a final session dragging over the weekend, the Sustainable Development Goals process concluded on Sunday, August 2nd 2015 with the adoption of the 29 page document tagged: – “Transforming our World:- The 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.” After approval by the plenary of the UN General Assembly, which is a formality, the Heads of State and Government will formally endorse the 2030 Agenda on the road to human dignity.
While adopting the 2030 Agenda, Nigeria will join the rest of the world in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the UN. Seventy years ago, an earlier generation of World leaders came together to create the UN Organization. From the ashes of war and division they fashioned this organization and the values of peace, dialogue and international cooperation which underpin it. The supreme embodiment of those values is the 1945 Charter of the UN.
In September 2015, a new generation of World leaders will take a decision of great historic significance, by adopting an Agenda for global action for the next fifteen years. In the era of change, the Agenda is a charter to change our world for people and planet in the 21st Century. It is an Agenda to build a better future for all people, including the opportunity to lead decent, dignified and rewarding lives and to achieve their full human potential. Children, young men and women are critical agents of change and will find the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a platform to channel their infinite capacities for activism into the creation of a better world for all.
The new Agenda consists of (17) seventeen Goals with (169) one hundred and sixty-nine associated targets which are integrated and indivisible. Never before have world leaders set out common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda. Setting out together on the path towards sustainable development, devoting themselves collectively to the pursuit of global development and of “win-win” cooperation which can bring huge gains to all countries and all parts of the world. Reaffirming that every member state has, and shall freely exercise full permanent sovereignty over all its wealth, natural resources and economic activity. Believing in the implementation of the Agenda for the full benefit of all, for today’s generation and for future generations yet unborn. In doing so, today’s world leaders reaffirm their commitments to international law and emphasize that the Agenda is to be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the rights and obligations of States under international law.
The Sustainable Development Goals and targets are the result of over two years of intensive public consultation and engagement with civil society, and other stakeholders around the world, which paid particular attention to the voices of the poorest and most vulnerable. In these Goals and targets, today’s World leaders are setting out a supremely ambitious and transformational vision. Envisaging a World free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive; a world free of fear and violence; a world with universal literacy, equitable and universal access to quality education at all levels, to health care and social protection, where physical, mental and social well-being are assured. A world where leaders reaffirm their commitments regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and where there is improved hygiene; and where food is sufficient, safe, affordable, available and nutritious. A world where human habitats are safe, resilient and sustainable and where there is universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy. A world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity, the rule of law, Justice, equality and non-discrimination; of respect for race, ethnicity and cultural diversity; and of equal opportunity permitting the full realization of human potential and contributing to shared prosperity. A world which invests in its children and in which every child grows up free from violence and exploitation. A World in which every woman and girl enjoys full gender equality and all legal, social and economic barriers to their empowerment have been removed. A just, equitable, tolerant, open and socially inclusive world in which the needs of the most vulnerable are met. A world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth and decent work for all. One in which consumption and production patterns and use of all natural resources are sustainable. One which democracy, good governance and the rule of law as well as an enabling environment at national and international levels, are essential for sustainable development, including sustained economic growth, social development, environmental protection and the eradication of poverty and hunger.
A world in which World leaders are committed to addressing global health threats, more frequent and intense natural disasters, spiraling conflict, violent extremism, terrorism and related humanitarian crises and forced displacement of people, which threaten to reverse much of the development progress made in recent decades.
The new Goals and targets will come into effect on 1st January 2016 and will guide the decisions that World leaders take over the next fifteen years. World leaders are expected to commit to the implementation of the Agenda within their own countries and at the regional and global levels, taking into account different national realities and respecting national policies and priorities.
The Agenda recognizes that each country faces specific challenges in its pursuit of sustainable development. The most vulnerable countries and in particular, African countries, least developed, landlocked developing and small island developing countries, are deservedly specially mentioned in the Agenda, as do countries in situations of conflict and post-conflict situations and many middle-income countries.
Sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security; and peace and security will be at risk without sustainable development. The new Agenda recognizes the need to build peaceful, Just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to Justice based on respect for human right and rule of law, transparent, effective and accountable national institutions at all levels of governance. Factors which give rise to violence, insecurity and injustice, such as inequality, corruption, poor or bad governance and illicit financial and arms flows, are addressed in the 2030 Agenda.
The new Agenda is guided by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter of 1945, including full respect for international law. It is grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights treaties, the Millennium Declaration, the UN Declaration on the Right to Development and the outcomes of all major global summits and UN Conferences which have laid a solid foundation for sustainable development and have helped to shape the new Agenda on the road to human dignity by 2030.
The scale and ambition of the new Agenda requires a revitalized Global Partnership to ensure its implementation. This partnership can only work in the spirit of global solidarity, in particular, solidarity with the poorest and vulnerable people in our societies. It further requires an intensive global engagement in support of implementation of all the Goals and targets, bringing together Governments, the private sector, civil society, the academia, the UN system and other actors in mobilizing all available resources needed for effective and progressive realization of the sustainable development goals and targets by 2030.
On the Journey to transforming our world, in particular, Nigeria, under the Buhari administration, the following viable options are worth noting: –
- A preparation of a strategic implementation framework for the new Agenda and its Goals and targets consistent with Nigeria’s constitutional and treaty obligations.
- An acknowledgment of the essential role of the legislature through legislative enactment, adoption of budgets and ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of the sustainable development goals and targets by the year 2030.
- Ensuring the success of the new Agenda by promoting it as that of the people, by the people and for the people. Because the Journey to human dignity and sustainable development by 2030, must involve all the three arms of government, donor and development agencies, States and local governments, civil society organizations, the academia, the media, business and the private sector as well as the poor and vulnerable groups in society.
- Finally, the future of humanity and of our planet earth lies in our hands. It lies also in the hands of today’s world leaders and younger generation who will pass the torch to future generations. The leaders of the UN member states and their partners in the new Agenda have mapped the road to sustainable development; it will be for all of us as equal stakeholders to ensure that the Journey is successful and its gains irreversible. The world will be a better place for all in 2030, if we succeed in realizing our clearly defined development objectives.
Prof. Ladan is Professor of Law at the Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria