Intervention for the Ministerial Segment of the Africa Regional Consultative Meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Designated Minister and Minister for Social Affairs, Community Development and Sports, Mr. Vincent Meriton on the 4th
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
Sustainable development starts with people.
This is what must motivate us, as we discuss Africa’s priorities in terms of identifying the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ultimately the aim of all development efforts is to bring about sustainable improvements in human wellbeing.
This calls for a substantial transformation in approaches to development, one which effectively blends social progress, inclusive and equitable growth, and sustainable environmental management.
While the goals are expected to have universal applicability they will also need to be adaptable to different contexts and situations. Our goals should better reflect the existing situation our continent faces- from landlocked countries to LDCs to Africa’s Small Island Developing states (SIDS).
A few of the key areas that we feel need particular emphasis are the provision of quality education for sustainability; the development of an inclusive green and blue economy, with a direct focus on the importance of oceans, and the importance of fostering people-participatory processes.
Education for sustainability
Ladies and gentlemen,
Education for sustainability goes beyond the basic skills of literacy and numeracy. Our education systems must be able to respond to the learning needs of all children and young people, providing them with skills for life and the means of earning a decent livelihood, in order to become active and responsible citizens.
Education should be our first goal- as it provides the platform on which we can build sustainable societies and sustainable economies.
At the core is people management; how best to utilize the limited human resource base, understanding population and demographic variables, formulating population interventions that support development goals, strengthening educational and training capacities, inculcating the values of sustainability in our way of life(Personal, Social, Economic, Environment) and ensuring social cohesion and functionality.
Investing in people (People-Participatory Process)
Sustainable Development starts with people, and harnessing the capacities and potentials of all people is the only means by which sustainable development will work. It is crucial therefore that all women, men, children and youth engage in this process. Thus far persistent inequalities in the participation of these various groups substantially limit their contributions to sustainable development. Seychelles calls for gender equality, social justice and human rights in all aspects of the SDGs. They must advocate for and contribute to ending all forms of gender bias, sexual and gender-based violence, and they should promote sexual and reproductive health rights. They must also enhance the participation of children and youth, and persons with disabilities. Culture is also a driver and enabler for development and we reiterate the call made by UNESCO for it to be considered in the post 2015 agenda.
Environmental sustainability for economic growth
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are happy to note the inclusion of the ‘green economy’ and the ‘blue economy’ as tools by which states may implement a more sustainable approach to development.
The ‘Blue Economy’ in particular represents an unparalleled opportunity for Africa; yes for the continent as a whole and not only for the islands.
Through the blue economy, we can claim ownership of this space which too often benefits distant nations ahead of African coastal states- whether it be in fisheries, trade routes or mineral exploration. We can transform Africa’s oceans from being sources of raw products for distant nations to a space where Africa’s trade needs are prioritized, and where Africa can better protect its oceanic resources.
Through the SDGs, we must transform Africa’s oceanic spaces into spaces for development- not just extraction.
This is a matter of survival for island nations- but it is also a matter of sustainability for our whole continent.
Without a fundamental transformation in our approach to oceanic development- we will continue to trade African resources in hubs outside our continent, we will continue to extract minerals while profits are banked elsewhere, and we will continue to see profit of others come before protection of what is ours.
The SDGs are our chance for change. The SDGs can help us define a new African century.
I thank you
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