Mainstreaming sustainable development goals into national development plans requires governments on the continent to build public awareness on the SDGs and their relevance to national strategies and plans, says Sylvain Boko of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

In his presentation at the on-going high level policy dialogue on development planning in Africa, Mr. Boko, Head of Development Planning and Statistics in the ECA’s Capacity Development Division, said public awareness is one of the key issues governments should ensure as they embark on the process to mainstream SDGs into national plans.

He said SDG mainstreaming is an opportunity for countries to promote their own domestic development priorities.

“It is important that there’s the whole-of-society approach as governments go into this process. Meaningful involvement of people from all walks of life; from policy design, implementation, to monitoring, evaluation and reporting, is essential for the success of mainstreaming and implementing the SDGs,” Mr. Boko told participants.

“In Liberia, a dialogue was held with political parties on the roll-out of the roadmap in May, 2017. Similar engagements were held with civil society organizations and the inter-religious council of Liberia to build momentum among key stakeholders and to provide legitimacy to the county engagements.”

He said development involves a process of transformation and the mainstreaming of the SDGs “must result in lifting people out of poverty, reducing disparities and inequalities, modernizing and industrializing African economies and create employment opportunities”.

Mr. Boko said also key is for member States to adapt the SDGs to their national context, in particular reviewing existing strategies and plans, prioritization, mapping and selecting mainstreaming tools that will work for them.

To promote policy coherence, he said there was need for integrated solutions across sectors and between various government levels to eliminate any contradictions or unintentional effects, avoid overlaps and enhance efficiency and in the process boosting capacity to implement.

African countries are currently at various stages of mainstreaming the SDGs into their national development planning frameworks and the fifth HLPD is tackling that subject in this three-day meeting in Abuja.

The mainstreaming process entails several steps, including raising public awareness and engendering stakeholder participation, adapting the SDGs to the national context, promoting policy coherence and follow-up and review.

Mr. Boko said effective follow-ups and review of the SDGs calls for the development of new data sources and sound benchmarking, thus strengthening national statistical systems.

Participants are also discussing the implications of SDG mainstreaming for national development planning processes in Africa, financing and related issues.

Financing the SDGs, said Mr. Boko, requires mobilizing resources from a range of sources, therefore countries need to be innovative in terms of identifying and mobilizing adequate resources for implementation, adding addressing capacity challenges and promoting capacity building will also be essential for the success of mainstreaming and implementing the SDGs.

“The mobilization and allocation of resources, and the design of institutions should be prioritized as important means of achieving a higher state of development,” he said, adding planning involved processes and actions required to drive economic and development outcomes to expected levels.

Participants were agreed the implementation of SDGs-aligned to national strategic plans will require complex institutional and policy interrelationships. Mr. Boko said development planning will be central in guiding these complex interrelationships at national, continental and global levels.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a transformative framework for global sustainable development for the period 2016 to 2030 and its mantra is to ensure that “no one is left behind” in the development process.

In Africa, the SDGs are being implemented concurrently and in an integrated manner with the First 10-year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, Africa’s 50-year strategic framework for socio-economic transformation which seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.

About 60 top African planners and chief executives of planning bodies are attending the HLPD to discuss development planning on the continent under the theme: Mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals into National Development Plans.