Africa’s planning and finance ministers not adequately involved in sustainable development issues – UNECA

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Director, Food Security and Sustainable Development Division, Dr. Josué Dioné, has stated that there is still insufficient coordination and synergy among relevant institutions in Africa, while ministers in charge of planning and finance are still not sufficiently involved in sustainable development issues.

To him, “This is a serious challenge to achieving a balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development”.

Dr. Josué Dioné exposed this threat when he listed some of the challenges the African continent has to address in order to accelerate the achievement of a balanced integration of the three pillars in planning, budgeting and implementation of plans and programmes.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) official made the disclosure yesterday, June 17, 2012, when he presented Africa’s perspectives on Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, highlighting the continent’s intellectual contributions towards one of the main themes of the Rio Conference – Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development.

Speaking during an event organised at the margins of the ongoing Rio+20 to present Africa’s findings of a study on Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development, Dr. Dioné however said the study found that  regional and sub-regional institutions such as African Union organs, the Regional Economic Communities and the ECA play a central role in promoting effective institutional and strategic frameworks for sustainable development in Africa.

Meanwhile, the ECA’s Information and Communication Service, says the report finds that appreciable progress has been made towards strengthening institutional and programmatic linkages on the continent.

It also finds that the links between  good governance and sustainable development is now widely recognised, which is good for Africa because of the pre-eminence of governance on the content’s development agenda.

Following Dione’s presentation, three speakers led in a panel  discussion structured to provide an international, regional, sub-regional and national perspectives to the report.

Leading on the sub-regional perspective, Dr. Lapodini Marc Atouga, Commissioner for Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, ECOWAS Commission, outlined the organisation’s vision and work programme, stressing areas of sustainable development, while Mr. Luc Oyoubi, Minister of Economy, Labour and Sustainable Development in Gabon provided a national-level perspective.

Touching on the national level vision, Ms. Susanne Salz, Head, Secretary General’s Office, ICLEI World Secretariat, stated that the use of the word “pillars” when discussing sustainable development is totally inappropriate, because “pillars” are by definition, independent and parallel.

She therefore suggested that replacing “pillars of sustainable development” with ” dimensions of sustainable development”, would convey three dimensions of a single goal: development.

Following the presentation, a lively discussion ensued, with the aim of answering a number key questions, one of which was on what institutional frameworks are needed at regional, sub-regional, national and local levels to achieve a balanced integration and enhance implementation.

Some participants also expressed worry about what could be done to ensure that decisions from forums such as Rio+20 actually get implemented in Africa.

Others suggested that Africa should not expect salvation from such conferences; and that instead, it should look inwards for solutions to its development, rather than depending on the expected outcomes of Rio+20.

The need was also expressed to develop local vocabularies on sustainable development to better sensitise Africans at the community level so that everyone understands the meaning and significance of sustainable development within their respective social and economic contexts.

Dr. Josué Dioné agreed and pointed out that Africa is not quite sensitive to much of the development indicators with which their progress is measured. “We need to develop M&E mechanisms to measure progress… ECA has carried out studies that assess sustainable development in many African countries and we know definitively what works and where”, he said.

For his part, Prof. Jaques Prescott, a Canadian researcher and scholar present at the side-event said that his group had developed profiles of sustainable development governance in 56 francophonie countries using eight indicators and promised to translate the report into English for wider accessibility.

The Africa report served as one of the background documents for the Africa Regional Preparatory Conference for Rio+20 and informed the Africa Consensus Statement to Rio+20.

It also aims to guide the establishment, strengthening and operationalisation of institutions, and the development and implementation of policies and strategies on sustainable development at the regional, sub-regional and national levels.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.