GDI alumni advises Nigerian Presidency on Sustainable Development Goals.

1 October 2018

GDI Alumni Bala Yusuf Yunusa (MSc 2006, PhD 2017) has been appointed Technical Advisor to the Office of the Nigerian President on SDGs. Under this arrangement, he is an employee of United Nations Development Programme but based at the Nigerian Presidency to push forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Nigeria.

The Office is mandated to provide leadership and guidance on the implementation of the SDGs and to coordinate efforts towards the integration of the SDGs into national and sub-national policies and programmes in support of the SDGs in Nigeria.    

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity and build on the Millennium Development Goals. The new development goals are ambitious and Bala is in no doubt of the size of challenge that lies ahead before the goals should be met by 2030.

“The biggest challenge is to be able to mainstream the SDGs into national and sub-national development plans,” Bala explained. “At the national level, this is partly achieved. However, as Nigeria is vast - with 36 states and 774 Local Governments, the SDGs will remain a mirage unless they are carefully integrated into the policies and Medium-term plans of the state and local governments. This is a huge task but of utmost priority.”

It has been three years since the SDGs were adopted and since then, Nigeria has put in place institutional structures to support the implementation of the SDGs across the country. Bala says political leadership is demonstrating commitment to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, but a lot remains to be done in terms of commitment and capacity at all levels of governance.  “With approximately 200 million people, Nigeria needs to make meaningful progress on the SDGs for Africa to make progress as a whole,” he added.

While many are familiar with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the SDGs are quite distinct. The main difference between the MDGs and SDGs is in the conceptualisation. The MDGs were more about ‘people’ and relate largely to developing countries. The SDGs are both about ‘people and the planet’ and more ‘universal’ in outlook in that they apply to all countries. “The SDGs is continuing with the unfinished task of the MDGs, especially on the economic and social dimensions.” Bala explained. “Both the MDGs and SDGs have provided us with development framework to operate and make this world a better place for all.”

We look forward to seeing how Nigeria progresses against the SDGs with our Alumni at the helm.

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