SDSN Great Lakes Holds Regional Conference on SDGs and Announces New Solutions Initiative

SDSN Great Lakes Holds Regional Conference on SDGs and Announces New Solutions Initiative

Written by Network Secretariat
September 10th 2020




On April 26, 2016, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network – Great Lakes (SDSN GL) held a conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on Regional Solutions to Achieve the SDGs.”

The network Chair, Prof. Murty S. Kopparthi, opened with a presentation of SDSN GL’s first call for proposals for Solutions Initiatives (SIs), launched at the July 2015 conference (see presentation #1 below). SDSN SIs are practical and transformational projects involving novel technologies, business models, institutional mechanisms, and/or policies. The 11 proposals received during the call covered the following thematic areas: sustainable energy, forestry management, ending poverty and hunger, and sustainable tourism.

The winner is a Burundian initiative on the local production of organic fertilizer from plant and animal waste (see presentation #2 below – in French). The project is a public-private partnership led by the University of Ngozi, with two community NGOs, ADISCO (“Support for the integrated development and solidarity in the hills”) and the Confederation of Associations of Agricultural Producers for Development (CAPAD), and a French agro-industrial firm, BIOPOST-COFUNA. The project was unanimously selected by the review panel as mature and well developed, as well as having the potential for replication and broader regional impact.

The local production of organic fertilizer will help improve sustainable agricultural production and contribute to combating soil degradation, which is major challenges in Burundi and the entire sub-region. In this way, the project directly addresses SDG 2 on food security and sustainable agriculture, and SDG 15 on terrestrial ecosystems. In addition, there will be clear benefits to other goal areas, including SDG 1 on poverty eradication, thanks to the focus on improved livelihoods for smallholder farmers, and SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production, since the fertilizer will be produced from recycled and reused waste products.

The rest of the conference was devoted to discussing approaches to SDG localization and prioritization in the region. Mr. Jean-Christophe Okandza, Director General of Planning and Development at Congolese Ministry of Economy, Finance, Planning, Public Investment, and Integration, opened the session. He presented the Republic of Congo’s challenges in trying to achieve the MDGs and the current efforts on integrating the SDGs into the existing national development plan. Other colleagues from the Republic of Congo, Mr. Klément Mvembe Makouangou, from the Circle of Action for the Promotion of Social Welfare, Prof. Kitsoro Kinzounza, and Prof. Joachim Mana Nsimba, from Marien Ngouabi University, reacted to the presentation with their perspectives from civil society and academia respectively.

In the afternoon, the experience and perspective from Rwanda were shared (see presentations #3-6 below). Ms. Nadine Rugwe from UNDP gave a dynamic presentation on the “One UN” approach to SDG implementation in Rwanda. Dr. Felicien Usengumukiza from the Rwandan Governance Board presented implementation plans for SDG16, including monitoring and indicators. The Rwandan Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, charged with coordinating SDG implementation in Rwanda, was represented by Mrs. Ruth Mukabaranga. She gave a comprehensive overview of the plans for the full integration of the SDGs into the national development plan and vision. Finally, Mr. James Daale from the Rwandan Initiative for Sustainable Development (RISD) presented the perspective from civil society., particularly from the representatives from Burundi and the Republic of Congo.

The final session was led by Ms. Eve de la Mothe Karoubi, from the SDSN Secretariat, who presented the SDSN and some of the key initiatives and tools developed to support SDG implementation, notably “Getting Started with the SDGs,” the SDSN guide for stakeholders, and the forthcoming SDG Index and Dashboard. (see presentation #7 below)

Dr. Marie-Christine Gasingirwa, Director of General Science and Technology, represented the Rwandan Minister of Education and closed the day’s proceedings. She lauded the participants’ engagement and the focus on local and innovative solutions to achieve the SDGs. She concluded the day with the following words of encouragement for the regional network: “The SDGs are a shared concern for Africa, and especially the Great Lakes region. Our only chance to achieve them is to mobilize and work together across borders.”

The regional conference brought together 75 participants from academia, civil society, international organizations, and government. The SDSN Great Lakes is hosted by the University of Rwanda and includes members from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. SDSN GL brings together a diversity of stakeholders to promote the SDGs and implement innovative solutions for sustainable development in the region.