By Amin Kef-Ranger
Madam Kenyeh Barlay, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, on the 31st August, 2023 delivered the keynote address at the Sierra Leone Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Acceleration Roadmap consultation during an event that was held at the Sierra Bay Hotel in Freetown which was geared towards capturing stakeholders’ insights and expertise for the creation of a robust roadmap towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.
The one-day workshop saw participation from development partners, Government Ministries, private sector representatives, Civil Society Organizations and Local Councils. The goal was to enhance and finalize the draft SDGs Acceleration Roadmap, which aligns with the upcoming Successor National Development Plan 2024-2028.
Peter N. Sam-Kpakra, Development Secretary at the Ministry of Planning & Economic Development (MoPED), expressed gratitude for the United Nations Country Team’s involvement and emphasized the importance of the consultation in advancing Sierra Leone’s progress.
Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, United Nations Resident Coordinator, welcomed attendees and highlighted the upcoming UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit scheduled for September 18th-19th, 2023. The summit aims to reinvigorate efforts to achieve the SDGs globally and focus on ambitious political declarations, national commitments, and UN-led initiatives.
Dr. Ahonsi addressed the need for collective action due to the gradual progress of SDG implementation worldwide. He urged active participation to ensure Sierra Leone’s presence and contributions at the summit.
Minister Kenyeh Barlay acknowledged the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic and existing inequalities. She stressed the importance of resilient strategies to overcome such obstacles and maintain progress towards the SDGs further highlighting Sierra Leone’s commitment to aligning the SDGs with the Big 5 Game Changers initiatives of the 2023 Peoples Manifesto promises of H. E. President Julius Maada Bio, designed to promote national development priorities.
In her call to action, Madam Barlay invited representatives from various sectors to contribute their perspectives, enabling the creation of a practical and comprehensive SDGs path.
She emphasized that the workshop marked the beginning of a transformative journey towards a more equitable and prosperous Sierra Leone and the world.
“While we engage in discussions regarding Sierra Leone’s SDG Acceleration Roadmap, it is imperative that we factor in the necessity of robust strategies capable of enduring the aforementioned shocks, thus guaranteeing the uninterrupted advancement. Through the convergence of expertise spanning various sectors, we can confidently assert that the roadmap will effectively tackle pressing challenges and establish the bedrock for consistent, sustainable progress across a wide spectrum of developmental domains, steering us towards the envisioned future,” said Minister Barlay.
Hon. Musa Fofana, a Member of Parliament, commended the Ministry for the laudable move in coordinating State actors in the implementation of the SDGs in Sierra Leone. He highlighted Parliament’s role in the process and stated efforts employed by Parliament in providing oversight and expressed commitment to supporting the process.
Valnora Edwin, Chairperson of the African Women Leaders Network-Sierra Leone Chapter, representing Civil Society Organizations, emphasized the vital role of Non-State actors in the SDGs process and called for increased collaboration.
Dr. Sheka Bangura, Director of Planning, Policy, and Research, provided an overview of the workshop’s objectives and the SDGs Acceleration Roadmap, encouraging attendees to participate actively in working groups.
As Sierra Leone strives to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, the consultation signifies a pivotal moment of collaboration and dedication towards a sustainable future.