How Nigeria can meet agenda 2030 SDGs target, by stakeholders
As the 2030 target for nations to meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) draws near, former Vice Chancellor, Osun State University (UNIOSUN), Prof Labode Popoola has lamented that the date may not be realistic after all.
Popoola, in his keynote address at a two-day national conference on Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, organised by the Lagos State University Centre for the Actualisation of the UN SDGs (LASU-SDG), in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Abuja, said countries must invest and work together to address the challenges confronting them.
He said: “There is a grim reality that at the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs are far off track. At the global level, averaging across countries, not a single SDG is currently projected to be met by 2030, with the poorest countries struggling the most. The COVID-19 pandemic that surfaced towards the end of 2019 signalled the first hitch towards the attainment of the global agenda.”
The SDGs are targeted at ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all humans by 2030.
Out of 74 countries whose government efforts to engender the SDGs are ranked, Nigeria is listed as number 31.
Popoola, at the conference themed: “At the midpoint of Agenda 2030 and SDGs: Which way Nigeria and Africa,” said universities must speed up measures of advancing technology to meet current realities.
According to him, tertiary institutions must adjust their ways and practices to remain relevant and meet the SDGs.
“They must use education to advance technological development. Intensive research and development contribute to innovations and technological breakthroughs. For instance, China increased its investment in research and development, and has been able to invent an electric train, which transports people at 200 miles per hour. This is an example of how higher education can help achieve sustainable development, as this feat reduces significantly carbon in the environment.”
Although the professor of Forest Economics noted that sustainable development may encounter problems at the local level, he said solutions must be provided to meet the 2030 target.
“These problems vary from poverty, climate change and food scarcity, and locally made solutions are required to resolve these issues. The higher institutions must come in handy here,” Popoola stated.
In the 2023 Sustainable Development Report (SDR), the performance on the SDGs for 193 countries was examined, using a wide array of indicators, calculating future trajectories, and presenting findings on government efforts to achieve the Agenda 2030.
This year’s report focused specifically on the need to scale up development finance and reform the global financial architecture to support the SDGs.
In her address, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji Bello, said the time has come for all concerned, including government and stakeholders to embrace transformation.
Olatunji Bello lamented that development progress is reversing under the combined impacts of climate disasters, conflict, economic downturn and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She urged the university community to make the best use of the opportunity offered by the conference, saying it would be a catalyst for transformative change to achieve the SDGs.
In his goodwill message delivered virtually, United Nation Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Matthias Schmale, said there is an urgent need for accelerated efforts towards achieving the SDGs.
Schmale said it is imperative for the agenda 2030 deadline on SDGs to be met, with no one left behind.
According to him, about 133 million Nigerians face multidimensional poverty while more than 20 million are unemployed without urgent action.
He warned that the 2030 agenda may become a broken promise to the world’s most vulnerable people if the many challenges are not addressed.
He said: “Africa remains a continent of hope and Nigeria, a country of hope because the long term structural endowments of Africa are strong.”
Schmale noted that universities could be catalytic in three important ways because they have the largest youth population in Africa.
“The outcomes from this conference will, no doubt, support collective rescue efforts and lay the groundwork for Nigeria’s preparation for next month’s global SDGs Summit in New York.
“The UN hopes that it would be possible for the Nigerian government to announce further initiatives at the summit aimed at creating a social impact friendly environment,” Schmale said.
On his part, Director, LASU-SDG Centre, Prof. Tayo Ajayi, said the 2030 agenda for sustainable development envisions a present and future that are economically sustainable, socially inclusive and environmentally resilient.
Ajayi said the SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, safeguard the planet and ensure that people enjoy peace and prosperity by the year 2030.
“The SDG agenda covers a wide range of interconnected social, economic and environmental challenges; and the unique functions and expertise of universities are critical for overcoming all of these. Arguably, none of the SDGs can be achieved without the universities because they occupy a unique position within the society. As such, universities have a critical role in the achievement of the SDGs,” Ajayi said.
He added that LASU had keyed into this vision as a teaching and research centre with responsibilities of contributing to the growth and development of not only students, workers and stakeholders, but in making global impacts.
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