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Calls grow for private sector investments to drive SDGs

As countries of the world draw closer to the tail end of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), stakeholders have called for more private sector investments in order to fastrack the attainment of the goals by 2030.

Speakers at the ongoing Nigerian Economic Summit Group in Abuja, noted that after 23 years, only 15 percent of the goals have been achieved.

Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, senior special assistant to President on SDGs, said there was need for all groups and individuals, private sector bodies to increase investment towards improving the livelihood for all Nigerians.

According to her, private sector investment has become crucial to achieving SDGs, as the government focuses on implementing the Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs).

“We need the support of the private sector in terms of resource mobilisation, expertise needed to achieve the SDGs. We need to work together to accelerate the achievements.

“We need the private sector to create jobs for our young jobless people, it is critical for us to ensure that we create good jobs as this will address other goals.

“Creating good jobs will eradicate poverty, and if a man has a good job, he will eat well, and be able to send his children to school. So, we want the private sector to create jobs.”

The SDGs, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, aims to provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.

Read also: Nigeria’s SDG goals hinge on bankable projects

They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve oceans and forests.

The goals include: no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, decent work and economic growth among others.

Speaking further, Orelope-Adefulire stated that achieving SDGs requires the involvement of both national and subnational governments. This, according to her, will help the sub-national governments to understand its importance and take ownership of the process.

She explained that the government will collaborate more closely with the private sector to finance the SDGs, which require $100 billion annually, while informing the government will also begin implementing the INFFs.

“Currently, the seed financing for INFFs is being put in place, both the private and public sectors must work together to accelerate progress on SDGs.

“Nigeria has been challenged with the recession in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. As a government we have put in place framework and action plans, but it is sad to note that globally, we have one achieve 15 percent of these goals.

“In Nigeria we have done well by putting in an institutional framework to guide us both at the national and subnational levels. But most of the problems are at the subnational level because we are supposed to address the issue using the bottom-up approach.”

For Zouera Youssoufou, managing director, Aliko Dangote foundation, Nigeria has not made enough progress in achieving the goals, which is majorly about human capital development and optimising economic growth.

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She stressed on the need for stakeholders to focus on achieving outcomes such as health and education as key drivers of attaining the other goals.

“The first 1000 day of life of a child is the critical time when the potential of the child is developed. So, if the mother is malnourished, it affects the child and we have a lot of these in Nigeria.

“So the first priority for me is health and education then others. When those two are sorted, then we have a chance to make progress. Starting with the basics is necessary, no matter how much you invest in education, if the children are not healthy they may not be impacted.”

Speaking on the best approach to achieving the SDGs, Youssoufou noted that there are different environmental factors in Nigeria, hence there is a need for a different approach in addressing these issues.

“For example, we have more people affected by malnutrition in the North than in the south. So, we need to work with the communities to understand what affects them directly.”

Nonso Obikili, a development coordination officer and economist at the United Nations, emphasised the critical role of data in achieving SDGs. He also highlighted the importance of subnational governments in the process, as they are where data gathering begins, which is then fed onto the national data.

He said that even though a lot of effort has gone into achieving these goals, there was a need for an accelerated effort to drive impactful gains.

“We need to look at initiatives that are cross-cutting, to address poverty, hunger. It is not just a government agenda but the private sector, civil societies need to support this move.”

He also noted inadequate financing as a major challenge affecting attainment of SDGs in Nigeria.

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