Chineme Okafor in Abuja
Sahara Group has been named one of two African firms selected among 13 global companies, including Microsoft Corporations, to lead the private sector effort to support the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals (SDGs).
In a workshop to create awareness on collaborations between private and public sectors in support of the Universal Sustainable Development Agenda in Nigeria, Sahara Group’s Chief Executive, Tonye Cole, urged Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunity to support the agenda.
The SDGs agenda seeks to complete the unfinished businesses of the millennium development goals (MDGs). It has 17 goals, 169 targets and 231 indicators, to integrate the economic, social and developmental dimensions to stimulate national actions in areas critical to the people.
The agenda includes a framework for a peaceful; just; equitable and inclusive world, aimed at creating an environment that would allow every person to fulfil his or her potentials in dignity and equality in a healthy environment.
“The private sector now has a voice at the highest level at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Fund (UN SDG-F) private sector advisory group. Sahara group is standing as your ambassador to drive the processes the way it understand it, but at a global level,” said Cole in Abuja.
He stated: “The private sector knows what they want as far corporate social responsibility is concerned. One of the things UN discovered was that whereas the MDGs struggled to succeed, the private sector would succeed in their own development programmes on CSR, which marched what the UN was doing.”
He said the advisory body would work out how the private sector and UN would work together to achieve the SDGs, adding that this was the phase for a Nigerian company to play at the highest global level of community development.
He said on youth development, that Sahara Group has always advocated for youth engagement, citing its young person’s initiative which set a target to directly impact 12 million youths over the next three years.
“It is an ambitious target. But, we are running with it. One of the programmes is to ensure that we reach 500,000 youths in agriculture in Kaduna State, which was launched on Wednesday in conjunction with the state government,” Cole said.
Cole also said on corruption, that the collaboration between private sector and government as well as UN would bring openness, accountability and transparency in the implementation of the SDGs.
The Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on SDGs, Victoria Orelope-Adefulire, said the workshop was to deliberate the importance of collaboration and partnership between private and public sectors to domesticate the attainment of SDGs in Nigeria.
She explained that Africa and Nigeria have challenges and threats that confront her people, adding that they include conflict; insecurity and environmental degradation.
Orelope-Adefulire stated the SDGs agenda would integrate the economic; social and developmental dimensions of these challenges to stimulate actions in the next 15 years.
To ensure a seamless transition from MDGs to the SDGs, Orelope-Adefulire said the SDG office embarked on a number of activities to domesticate and mainstream the new agenda in Nigeria, including the MDG 10-point report, recently produced and disseminated.