South Africa will present its
The development goals
They cover a wide range of areas, from ending hunger and ensuring universal access to water and electricity; to promoting innovation and building strong institutions. The countries committed to achieving these goals by 2030.
But progress seems relatively slow across Africa. A recent report
South Africa, too, has been relatively slow in reporting progress. When presenting its official progress report later this month, it will be one of the last African countries to do so. But it did present a non-compulsory baseline report in 2017 that
South Africa’s official progress report – known in UN parlance as a Voluntary National Review – will show that the country has done quite well on some measures, and badly on others.
But the bigger question centres on what should be done to ensure that the SDGs actually change countries’ development trajectories.
A concerted effort is needed to ensure that the SDGs aren’t relegated to being merely a reporting framework. The South African SDG Hub, an initiative
But that would require government, the private sector and civil society to be proactive. Here’s what we think they should do. Four practical steps
1. Gather complete and reliable data.
It’s impossible to identify areas where urgent interventions are necessary without reliable and complete data. That’s why data gaps should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The SDGs with the greatest data gaps in Africa are SDG 8
2. Take the data seriously.
Reliable data is useless if it’s not taken seriously. In fact, the data often highlight issues that escape public attention. Take malnutrition. South Africa’s SDG progress report shows that 27% of South Africa’s children are stunted (SDG 2
The report also shows that without large-scale interventions, South Africa can expect a water deficit of at least 17% in 2030 (SDG 6).
Taking the data seriously also means noticing where South Africa has made progress. Between 2012 and 2018, for example, the country’s electricity produced from renewable energy sources increased massively from 16.1 GWh to 8 800 GWh (SDG 7
3. Benchmark against others.
The SDGs provide a global framework for benchmarking a country’s progress against its peers’. The World Bank’s Open Data platform
South Africa’s infant morality rate
There are other areas in which progress hasn’t been as strong as it should. Tuberculosis is one example. Despite major improvements, tuberculosis infection rates
On the positive side, South Africa’s road deaths
Interestingly, South Africa scores better than both countries when it comes to levels of corruption (SDG 16
4. Forge new types of partnerships.
In their work on problems that are particularly hard to solve, the environmentalist Kelly Levin and her colleagues
A rational response to this challenge would be to form strategic alliances that reconfigure the institutional landscape that created the need for the SDGs. How should this be done? In their report on this topic
It’s not too late. There are still 11 years left until countries need to present their final SDG progress reports. But to ensure that the SDGs’ real potential are unlocked, South Africa needs significant progress on a few fronts. Emphasis should be placed on improving data quality and coverage, and using this as basis to forge partnerships that use the data to effect real change.