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Financing SDGs critical for Gambia: UN rep

Nov 10, 2015, 10:23 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The United Nations resident coordinator and UNDP representative, Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje, has said that financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is most critical, if The Gambia is to succeed in achieving the SDGs.

She said that unlike the MDGs, the post-2015 agenda would not be achieved through aid alone.

The UN country representative was speaking recently at the Laico-Atlantic Hotel in Banjul at the development forum jointly organised by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the UNDP.

“The Gambia will need to expand its revenue base and improve its tax administration,” she said, adding that The Gambia needs to make extraordinary efforts to combat illicit financial flows, which currently stand at close to US$ 31 million per annum.

She pointed out that this was a momentous year for The Gambia, as the adoption of the SDGs coincided with the preparation of the next national development plan.

It was her conviction that The Gambia would make significant progress on the SDGs, as there was commitment of the government and stakeholders.

Ms Ade Mamonyane Lekoetje disclosed that the enrolment of children in developing countries into primary school had grown remarkably, adding that child mortality and maternal rates are down.

Significant progress had also been made on combating HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis; and access to improved water sources and sanitation facilities had been met for most parts of the world, she added. “The new global agenda must take on these challenges boldly. It is precisely for these reasons that the post 2015 agenda is designed to be both ambitious and transformational,” she said.

According to the UNDP official, the SDGs with its 17 goals and 168 targets relate to economic growth, infrastructure, energy, trade, urbanisation, marine, environment and partnership.

She said the special Summit on Sustainable Development in New York in September 2015, adopted the SDGs as a culmination of four major events such as the Rio+20 and Earth Summit in Brazil in June 2012, the third international conference on small island developing states in Samoa in September 2014, and the third UN world conference on disaster risk reduction in Japan in March 2015.

Progress on poverty reduction and employment creation had not been commensurate with the modest growth of recent years, particularly between the years 2011 and 2014, she went on.

“Economic diversification as a strategy for structural transformation, including manufacturing and higher value service sectors will be important to lessen The Gambia’s dependence on agriculture and tourism,” she stated.

The UN country rep further asserted that building resilience was critical for sustainable development in The Gambia, adding that there must be a strong focus on disaster risk reduction, including through actions aimed at mitigating risks related to droughts, and enhancing the early warning system and response to economic shocks.

She said gender equality and women’s empowerment should be at the forefront of national planning and the budgeting processes, as well as equal opportunity to economic resources, and that access to sexual and reproductive health services is of the essence.

“The Gambia’s population is very young and fast growing; we have a large youth population with high hopes and energy. If The Gambia invests in its youth there will be a big demographic dividend,” the UNDP country representative said.