The 2019 National Validation Conference of the National Voluntary Review of the SDGs
Bo Mme le Bo-Ntate, Khotsong!
Allow me to pay my respects to:
HIS MAJESTY KING LETSIE III
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE PRIME MINISTER
HONOURABLE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
HONOURABLE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
HIS LORDSHIP THE PRESIDENT OF THE COURT OF APPEAL
HER LADYSHIP THE CHIEF JUSTICE
HONOURABLE DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
HONORABLE MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
HONOURABLE MEMBERS OF HIS MAJESTY’S CABINET
THEIR LORDSHIPS JUDGES OF THE COURT OF APPEAL AND THE HIGH COURT
YOUR EXCELLENCIES MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
THE GOVERNMENT SECRETARY; PRINCIPAL SECRETARIES
HEADS OF ACADEMIC INSTITUTIONS AND PARASTATAL ENTERPRISES
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR
CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS AND MEDIA HOUSES
DEAR UN COLLEAGUES
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
ALL PROTOCOL OBSERVED
On behalf of the UN Family in Lesotho, I am honoured to make a few remarks at this important milestone - the Validation of the Lesotho 2019 Voluntary National Review (VNR) Report.
At the outset, I wish to congratulate the Government of Lesotho for volunteering to submit an SDG National Review in 2019 and for revitalizing its SDG Cabinet Sub-Committee. Lesotho will present its first report at the UN’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in New York in July this year. The Report was developed under the leadership of the Ministry of Development Planning and the UN in Lesotho is proud to be a key partner in this process. So far, a variety of activities have taken place: the development of key messages; a series of multi-stakeholder VNR consultations including the district consultations supported by the UN Youth Advisory Panel, discussions in Cabinet and in the SDG-Sub Committee, technical consultations during the drafting of the report; to name but a few.
So, this has been an intensive couple of months. I therefore thank all line Ministries, Committees, institutions stakeholders for their unwavering involvement in the VNR process. I also thank the National University of Lesotho for drafting the SDG Chapters. I commend the staff of Ministry of Development Planning who invested enormous efforts in the process and in the organization of this Conference. I am grateful to all Session Chairs, Co-Conveners, Panellists and participants who will bring a contribution towards the finalization of the main VNR.
Last but not least, to my UN colleagues: I am aware of the early morning and the late evening meetings -some of them on quite short notice-; I know about the consultations amongst yourselves and with other stakeholders. Through all these interactions, I could sense your determination to produce a quality report. So, let me simply say thank you. As you may know, the final report will be submitted on 14th June.
Right Honorable Prime Minister, Distinguished guests,
Bo Mme le Bo Ntate, The international community agreed that the 2019 reviews will focus on 6 SDGs: Goals 4-Quality Education; 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth; 10-Reduced Inequalities; 13-Climate Action, 16-Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, and 17-Partnerships for the Goals. It was also agreed that the following principles would guide the VNR process:
i. It has to be based on evidence: the VNR analysis must be based on the most recent and disaggregated statistics and information
ii. Leaving no one behind: The analysis gives a special attention to the most vulnerable/disadvantaged population groups and to challenging geographical areas.
iii. Participatory: wide consultations and participation by all stakeholders - the government institutions, development partners, CSOs, private sector, youth, academia, media and the people at the grassroots.
Right Honorable Prime Minister, Distinguished guests, Bo Mme le Bo Ntate,
Please allow me to use this opportunity to share three messages with you: First, the submission of a VNR is a very good decision for Lesotho: (1) it allows the country to take its rightful place in the international community; (2) it provides an opportunity to strengthen its internal capacities for coordination and its ability to collect and utilize data; and (3) it is a clear signal that Lesotho embraces accountability to international development frameworks such as the SDGs. Another example is that, this year, Lesotho is participating in another international review and will be submitting its Universal Periodic Review Report, a human rights reporting requirement. Lesotho successfully underwent its last UPR in 2015 and is now in its 3rd cycle of review scheduled for January-February 2020.
This VNR follows a pattern of good practice and I encourage the country to keep it up. At the same time, the VNR process has revealed the need to strengthen stakeholder engagement. We know this already, the 2030 Agenda has ambitious targets, covering multiple and interconnected sectors. It requires the contribution of all segments of society. In simple terms, there is work for each and every one of us.
For instance, there is a big potential within the private sector and CSOs. Most of the time, they are willing to contribute but they need encouragement, structure, and guidance. Government is better placed to provide them. There are many modalities for that but let me just mention Public Private Partnerships (PPP) as an example. Furthermore, as we speak about “Leaving No one Behind”, it is also critical to involve Parliament, sub-national authorities, peopleselected bodies, youth (as a positive agent for change), and grass-root organizations.
Second, I submit that the leadership role of government is crucial in the realization of SDGs. Experience from many countries has shown that consistent high level political will makes a big difference in breaking silos and achieving inter-sectoral coordination. For that purpose, an SDG Country Platform is a critical mechanism to ensure that coordination and leadership lead to results. Those results will be achieved using the Lesotho own National Strategic Development Plans (NSDP). Agenda 2030 is the global development framework which connects to continental and subregional plans like the AU Agenda 2063 and the SADC plans.
As a national development plan, NSDP II translates the SDGs into the Lesotho context and lays out strategies to achieve them, focussing on the specific socioeconomic reality of the country. This VNR process has also revealed the need to further strengthen alignment between SDGs and the NSDP II. Third, this VNR will be used to take stock of progress made towards the SDGs. Monitoring progress requires up-to-date, reliable and credible data. The development of chapters for each one of the 6 SDGs under review emphasized the need for targeted investments in data collection and analysis.
My humble suggestion to the GoL is to be bold and innovative in building systems to generate data. Part of the work would be to harmonize and integrate existing data systems. The other part could be applying innovative and new methods and technologies for effective data collections such as real time monitoring and big data. It will be useful to create an integrated platform to encourage partnership for SDG data.
Right Honorable Prime Minister, Distinguished guests, Bo Mme le Bo Ntate,
As I conclude, let me reiterate that SDGs represent the backbone of UN work in Lesotho. I wish to reaffirm our commitment to supporting the country on the long but rewarding journey to development. As we work together, we ought to acknowledge that progress is not as fast as we want it to be. We therefore need to draw lessons from this VNR and endeavour to work harder, smarter, faster.
I wish you a productive National Validation Conference!