Commentators have asked government and the private sector to jump to the front in the push to end poverty, saying Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs} will be fruitless if left to the international community and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) alone.
President Peter Mutharika and world leaders adopted the 17-point global goals to end poverty by 2030 at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York in 2015.
A global consensus shows that progress to achieve the agenda 2030 is slow, with Malawi launching its national push last year, almost two years after the expiry of Millennium Development Goals.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion yesterday organised by Chancellor College’s Department of Political and Administrative Studies in partnership with the University of Oslo, experts took turns to demand greater involvement and political will from government to ensure no one is left behind.
Business Consult Africa managing director Henry Kachaje said the future looks bleak as government officials at all levels do not speak passionately about the goals and business captains seem not aware how they can contribute to the agenda.
Said Kachaje: “There is no clarity in many things that we claim to be doing. Listen to the President and the Vice-President, they don’t speak passionately about SDGs. When they are reading a statement, you can tell that they are reading it for the first time. Up to now, I am yet to be convinced that SDGs are our agenda. It appears these are things that we just talk about in hotels. If there are allowances, we grab envelopes and forget about SDGs.”
The private sector in Norway has taken the lead in speeding up progress towards achieving SDGs, said Professor Dan Banik from University of Oslo’s Centre for Development and Environment.
While private sector’s involvement is key to unlocking resources and expanding the reach of development initiatives, lawyer-cum-gender activist Ngeyi Kanyongolo urged companies to start uplifting people and safeguarding the environment instead of just pursuing profits and corporate social responsibility.
“Businesses need to take into consideration wider interests of the society, not causing harm to the environment. How many businesses think about the people they work with? she said.
In their presentation, political scientist Happy Kayuni and Malawi Economic Justice Network executive director Dalitso Kubalasa called for a shift from rhetoric to action to eliminate entrenched poverty and corruption in the country.