BY Alex Shoebridge, Kristine Najjar | December 13, 2017
When we last blogged in this space in May 2016, we wrote about our plans to support the roll out of the 2030 Agenda in Lebanon. We knew that engaging the public – especially youth – would be critical. As part of our approach, we didn’t want to come in with any pre-developed solutions, but rather let young people provide the answers, even pose the questions. We wanted to enable youth-generated evidence that could be shared with policy makers and linked to national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, the government wasn’t ready yet to engage on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Supporting a conversation with the public was our best and, at the time, the only option. It held the promise of generating better and less-filtered information, and creating new public spaces for citizen-to-citizen interaction to achieve the SDGs. Radio and theatre as a way to learn from young people in Lebanon Together with UNESCO and the radio station, Voix du Liban, we launched “Chabab Wa Tanmia,” a radio show produced and hosted by six young journalists that focused on bringing a youth focus to bear on the SDGs. Each week the show would cover a different SDG-related area . Young people called in from across the country to share their priorities and concerns. Subjects ranged from how to address smoking among youth (a widespread issue in Lebanon), to how to strengthen community services and support mechanisms for the elderly, and how everyday actions can help protect children’s rights. On top of the radio show, to better understand the development perspectives of those furthest behind – such as unemployed youth or women-headed households – we collaborated with the American University in Beirut (AUB) to produce two case studies reflecting a broad set of consultations with Lebanese and Syrian refugees and other vulnerable groups. Employing playback theater – a type of improvisational and interactive theater in which people tell stories about their lives and watch them being enacted on the spot – helped people narrate the issues, such as corruption in hiring, and gender discrimination in all aspects of daily life. Theatre methods created an opportunity for youth to share their experiences and find common ground. It also meant that we, as the UN and partners, could learn from young people. One major takeaway for the theater programming centred on the need to focus on lifelong learning opportunities for families to support the development of youth. And now… a platform for government engagement These initiatives have been important for enhancing citizen-to-citizen interaction, and providing public spaces for people to express themselves. They have also been key to understanding some of the issues we should focus in the future. Having listened to more than 500 people in our engagement efforts, which includes those who participated in the radio shows, on social media, and via the national consultations spearheaded by AUB, we will be putting an increased focus on corruption, gender discrimination and child rights. Nonetheless, without government leadership we won’t have a platform to amplify what we have been hearing. Recently, the Government committed itself to working on the SDGs by establishing an inter-ministerial committee, which will be a key entry point for UN engagement in supporting the roll-out of the SDG agenda. The committee provides a forum to bring all ongoing SDG initiatives under one umbrella, which is a real opportunity to connect what we heard from people to political decision-makers. Together with the government, civil society and the private sector, we aim for our work to feed into a national multi-stakeholder consultation process that reflects the priorities and perspectives of those left farthest behind. People informing priorities As a result of our consultation process with youth, corruption, gender discrimination and child rights will be highlighted in our deliberations with the government and will inform our work planning for 2018. Things may shift in Lebanon’s current political environment. But the country has weathered many a political storm – and it is not easily shipwrecked. We are hopeful that the work that has been done will lead to tangible results for the people of the country, and leave no one behind. Do you have experience utilizing key findings from youth engagement activities and elevating them to the national level? What have you learned?
November 9, 2016
The constitutional pathway Morocco’s national priorities are derived from its 2011 constitutional reforms with a focus to: complete the democratic transition and strengthen human rights; improve its economic viability, environmental sustainability and social stability; scale up climate change adaptation and energy transition; and consolidate its strategic leadership regionally and globally. For Morocco, the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs has enabled a strategic focus on inclusive development and the environment. As a further testament to the country’s commitment to sustainable development, in 2016 Morocco will host the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) in Marrakech. National ownership The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Commission for Planning in Morocco, together with a national interministerial committee and the UNCT, organized a national consultation in May 2016 under the theme ‘Contextualization of the 2030 Agenda in Morocco: Leave No One Behind’. During the consultations, approximately 500 stakeholders had the opportunity to collectively examine the 2030 Agenda, learn about the country’s engagement at the international level and explore their roles and responsibilities to achieve the goals. It was also the first opportunity for high-level public officials to take stock collectively on key national policies and sectoral strategies related to the SDGs. Raising public awareness Close to 200 non-state participants, mainly digital entrepreneurs, children and young people, civil society activists, celebrities, journalists and activists joined the national consultation. The UN also engaged the Royal Institute of the Amazigh Culture to translate the SDGs into the Amazigh language, which in 2011 became an official language of Morocco, alongside Arabic. Social media (#MarocODD) was used to inform stakeholders about the issues to be discussed at the national consultation workshop. Also, as part of the ‘Project Everyone’ campaign during the week preceding the UN Sustainable Development Summit, Hit Radio, a leading radio station with approximately 1.8 million listeners per day, partnered with the UN to translate SDG messages into Moroccan Arabic and broadcast them to reach young people. Reviewing the SDGs and the national context Thirty-five high-level panellists from the Moroccan parliament, administration, the Ministry of Justice, the Human Rights Council and the Confederation of Business Enterprises gave presentations on the status of the SDGs related to their sectors during the national consultations. The discussions and exchanges among participants collectively examined the work in progress and implementation and monitoring challenges. It also delved into the need for public policy coherence, adequate financing, and monitoring and evaluation systems. The Planning Commission shared the national framework which addresses the main targets and indicators. An initial analysis by the government revealed that the national statistical system can produce data on about 63 percent of the global SDG indicators. The missing data relate mainly to the SDGs on governance and the environment. Inclusive participation The Economic and Social Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UN system brought together CSOs and national institutions in the consultations. Discussions included how to support local authorities in the development, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, and how to effectively engage children and youth and foster awareness and ownership of the 2030 Agenda. The role of CSOs in maintaining the public debate was also highlighted. UN entities such as UNDP, the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), UNESCO, UNV and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) proposed areas of policy support and tools at regional, national and subnational levels in support of contextualizing and accelerating the SDGs in Morocco. With a particular focus on children and youth, UNICEF and UNV organized sessions during and after the national consultations, leading to positive feedback that those sessions helped enhance the civic engagement of young people at the local level.
The overall objective of the 2030 Agenda Working Group is to support coordination efforts of regional UN actors and the League of Arab States in their efforts to adapt, implement, monitor and report on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.READ MORE
To enhance coordination and collective action, the R-UNDG Arab States/Middle East and Northern Africa has established thematic working groups in a number of key selected areas of areas. These working groups ensure coordinated responses at the regional level and provide quality technical support and advise to UN country teams at the national level.READ MORE
Summary of events organized by the UNDG Regional Team for the Arab States, Middle East and Northern Africa.READ MORE