Zimbabwe attends high level SDGs summit, to build back better post-COVID-19

By Justin Mahlahla

Zimbabwe will continue to strengthen implementation and monitoring mechanisms to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the Decade of Action, despite the current challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change impacts.

This came out at the annual meeting of the 2022 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, held at the United Nations in New York, from 5 July to 15 July 2022, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

In line with the NDS1 and the country’s Vision 2030, Zimbabwe should continue to mainstream the SDGs in the national development plans, focusing on building back better in the context of COVID-19.

The country should also make use of some of the best practices, solutions, experiences, and approaches shared by other countries at the 2022 HLPF, related to ensuring food security (SDG 2), economic resilience and recovery (SDG 8), youth engagement in recovery (SDG 10 and 17), building climate resilience for COVID-19 recovery (SDG 13), and the public-private partnerships and effective institutions that can support recovery (SDG 16 and 17) all in the context of SDG implementation. It is important to ensure a Whole of Society Approach, in the spirit of the cardinal principle of Leaving No One Behind, in the implementation of the SDGs.

The HLPF was being held under the theme “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

The HLPF is the monitoring and review mechanism on progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Zimbabwe’s delegation was led by Mr. Simon Masanga, the Permanent Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

As a member of the Group of Friends of the VNRs, Zimbabwe participated in a series of VNR Labs that were convened on the margins of the 2022 HLPF, providing an informal platform for experience sharing and reflecting on the Voluntary National Review process. Zimbabwe supported fellow SADC VNR presenting countries, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, and Botswana, which presented on how they were integrating the SDGs in the implementation of national development plans.

Zimbabwe shared its experience in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, preparation and presentation of the VNR, having presented its second VNR at the 2021 HLPF.

Zimbabwe also highlighted efforts to domesticate and localize the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, from the experience of the Voluntary Local Reviews undertaken by the City of Harare and the Victoria Falls Municipality, that informed the countries’ 2021 VNR.

The country reported that the success of the two VLRs led Cabinet to direct that the VLRs be cascaded to all local authorities. The Government is currently working with UN agencies and other stakeholders to conduct 4 VLRs (2 urban and 2 rural) for Mutasa Rural District Council, Bikita Rural District Council, Zvishavane Town and Bulawayo in 2022.

Through the discussions, Zimbabwe identified a number of opportunities that are available for the exchange of experiences between the country’s local authorities, and other local authorities in countries such as Japan, Italy and the Netherlands, who have successfully undertaken VLRs and had gone further to undertake Voluntary Sub-national Reviews (VSRs), which are powerful levers for creating a comprehensive, nationwide and multi-level approach to governance related to the monitoring and reporting of the SDGs.

Zimbabwe also participated in an event that focused on Accelerating SDG7 (Ensuring Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy for All), action for the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and looked at universal energy access and just, inclusive and equitable energy. The event reiterated that energy lies at the heart of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The 2022 HLPF adopted a Ministerial Declaration which reaffirms the commitments of Member States to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and calls for increased global partnership, solidarity and commitment to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda.