2020 Is the Decade of Action & It Has to Be a Sprint

Hosted by the governments of Kenya, Denmark and UNFPA, world
leaders gather for the 3-day Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 to advance
sexual, reproductive health & rights for all. November 12,
2019. Photo Courtesy: Redhouse Public Relations

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 31 2019 (IPS)

Happy New Year, Kenya. 2020 marks a decade of action towards the
realization of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Peace and development are inextricably linked, with each making
the achievement of the other far more likely. This puts the
conflict-prevention and development work of the UN at the heart of
the agenda in East Africa, but in a multi-agency and programme
environment, making meaningful progress is challenging.

Aware of this, the UN began a process of structural reforms led
by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres who made reforms of
the United Nations, a priority at the very beginning of his term in
January 2017. The aim being to deliver better results through
cooperation, collaboration and integration. 2019 was the year that
the impact of these reforms became real and nowhere more than in
the peace, conflict-prevention and development pillars of the
UN’s work.

At the country level, that shift towards a nimble, 21st century
UN challenges deeply entrenched practices and operations. In a
country team with over 23 individual agencies, funds and
programmes, the reform process can be complicated, even messy.

To the credit of the Kenya country team, we overcame the
challenges of ceding long-held agency interests for the collective
good and achieved some ground-breaking milestones in our
partnership with governments, civic organizations and the private

The most outstanding was our venturing out to confront
challenges that transcend borders. East Africa faces major threats
to peace and development across multiple fronts, and respective UN
country teams have, in a remarkable show of teamwork, sought to
harmonize their responses to these threats. Internecine border
conflicts and the effects of climate change together make a
formidable challenge that brought together UN teams from Kenya and
, in a pact that seeks to bring sustainable development
to the Karamoja triangle.

This pact follows from another successful regional collaboration
project on the
Kenya-Ethiopia border
where communities accustomed to recurrent
hostilities are now reaching out to each other to find solutions to
common socio-economic challenges.

We believe that our regional surge towards prevention,
peacemaking and diplomacy will have a particular impact on the
youth, who suffer an enduring sense of being neglected and ignored.
This narrative is a breeding ground for extremism and
radicalization, so addressing such concerns was a key point of
deliberation during last July’s
African Regional High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism and the
Prevention of Violent Extremism
in Nairobi.

The same regional approach was behind the initiative by
Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Somalia to sign the
Declaration and Action Plan to End Cross-border FGM
in April
2019. This was the first time multiple countries had come together
to tackle this pernicious cross-border crime.

But there remain many in the region still left behind by
development, and we continue to stand up for them through our

UN Development Assistance Framework 2018-2022
. The
framework’s gender equality and rights focus is unmistakable,
because in too many communities, the simple fact of being born
female shatters one’s chances of living in full human

Our focus on giving a leg-up to those left farthest behind has
attracted a positive response from our partners in national and
county governments. By staying in lockstep with national priorities
on issues such as health, agriculture and housing,
the common thread of messages from our partners is that we are
staying effective and responsive to the ambitions of

As 2020 beckons, the decade of action starts and it has to be a
sprint to deliver on the SDGs, the UN team in Kenya is rolling up
its sleeves with greater urgency, ambition and innovation. We will
enhance regional cooperation and private-public partnerships as we
work with the Government towards lifting millions of the citizens
of this region out of poverty and upholding their human rights.

We are re-imagining ways of delivering development in ways such
as the co-creation of an
SDG innovation lab between the Government of Kenya
, the Centre
for Effective Global Action at the University of California in
Berkeley, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the UN. The SDG Lab will
kick off with support for the delivery of Kenya’s Big Four agenda
by harnessing, big data, technology and innovation to achieve scale
and impact.

As a UN country team, we got off the blocks in 2019 in pursuit
of UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed’s challenge to
“flip the orthodoxy” for the repositioning of the UN. We have
dared to go beyond the typical and will do whatever it takes to
respond effectively to the challenges faced by Kenya’s people,
now and in the future.

Siddharth Chatterjee
is the United Nations Resident Coordinator
in Kenya.

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the Decade of Action & It Has to Be a Sprint
appeared first
on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
2020 Is the Decade of Action & It Has to Be a Sprint