Tonye Cole Urges Sustained Global Partnership as SDG Clocks One

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Hassan Habeeb
Achieving the 2030 target for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require strategic and continuing multi-sectoral collaboration across the globe, says Tonye Cole, Executive Director, Sahara Group as the world marks the first anniversary of the SDGs.

Officially branded ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, the SDGs is a set of 17 aspirational “Global Goals” with 169 targets between them. The goals include: ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests. The SDGs document was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit September 25–27, 2015 in New York, USA.

Cole, who is also co-founder of Sahara, a leading African Power and Energy Conglomerate, said the SDGs platform had since become a veritable tool for addressing critical developmental issues globally.

“Going by available records, a significant success trend is emerging and it is great to see unfolding collaboration amongst several stakeholders on interventions being midwifed by the United Nations and its affiliates. It is imperative for governments, private sector, NGOs, international development agencies and global civil society to work together in a sustainable manner to ensure the targets of the SDGs are achieved by 2030.” Cole said.

He noted that Sahara Group has implemented sundry SDGs compliant interventions and is currently supporting several partnership platforms that are setting the tone for accelerating the achievement of the SDGs across the globe. He said Sahara Group SDGs goals are to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. “Sahara has empowered people of varied of orientation through its economic empowerment initiatives across the nation.” Another goal according to him is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. “The Food Africa Project: A very first of its kind, this is the product of a partnership involving Sahara Group, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals- Fund (SDG-F) and the Kaduna State Government aimed at empowering the people of Kaduna State and alleviating poverty through food security. The plan is to replicate this across Africa.”

The third goal according to him is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. “Sahara has upgraded primary health centers across Nigeria, and carried out eye surgeries, malaria and health awareness programmes.”

Sahara Group also wants to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. “Sahara has implemented several Teacher training programmes, school infrastructure upgrades and scholarship programmes for indigent students.” Another goal is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. “Sahara is involved in skills training programmes to equip women and young girls with skills in selected vocations and empower them to become masters of skills, more financially independent and eventually start businesses of their own,” he said.

Another goal is to promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. “Sahara Group’s ‘School Feeding Programme’ has provided employment and considerable financial independence for farmers, caterers and traders within the beneficiary communities”

According to Cole, another SDGs goal is Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. “Sahara Group is spearheading a growing wave of transparency and good governance principles across Africa’s business space through its membership of the World Economic Forum community – Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI). Sahara collaborates with global, regional and national organisations to promote sustainable development and transparency in business.”

Another SDGs goal according to him, is to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. “Sahara Group and other partners hope to integrate the entire food value chain – the farmer, wholesaler, retailer and consumer- through the Food Africa Project. This will facilitate a sustainable source of food security, poverty alleviation and eradication, skill acquisition and social inclusiveness. The Food Africa project aims to impact at least 500,000 beneficiaries (30 per cent direct beneficiaries and 70 per cent indirect beneficiaries) providing families with better nutrition and livelihood opportunities over a five year period.”