The Federal Government said on Wednesday that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic across the world had challenged the prospects of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to the President on SDGs, stated this at Lafarge Africa Sustainability Webinar series.
The webinar was themed: “The Decade of Action: Advancing the SDGs in a Post Pandemic Era”.
Orelope-Adefulire, in a keynote address, said the socio-economic uncertainties and disruptions of the pandemic came at a substantial cost to the Nigerian economy – which was largely dependent on oil and gas revenues.
Orelope-Adefulire, who was represented by Dr Bala Yusuf, Senior Technical Advisor, said COVID-19 had revealed the vulnerability of healthcare systems in developing countries.
She noted that ‘Decade of Action’ means 10 more years of active implementation of the global goals by all the stakeholders.
According to her, 10 more years to cover grounds and achieve the transformative promise to ‘leave-no-one-behind’ by the year 2030.
“Unfortunately, just as we commenced the ‘Decade of Action’ for the SDGs in January 2020, the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic across the world has now challenged the prospects of achieving the SDGs.
“Indeed, beyond the health hazards and human consequences of the pandemic, the socio-economic uncertainties and disruptions come at a substantial cost to the Nigerian economy – which is largely dependent on oil and gas revenues.
“Evidently, COVID-19 has revealed the vulnerability of healthcare systems in developing countries.
“Unfortunately, those who suffered the most are the poor and most vulnerable – women, children, people with disabilities, and older persons.
“Regrettably, it had to take COVID-19 outbreak to appreciate these and we now have the responsibility to act quick, act strong, and act precisely to attain the transformational change we all desire.
“It is said that ‘critical times call for critical measures.
“This extraordinary moment requires that we all come together to find creative and innovative ways to build more equal, inclusive, and resilient societies.
“We must urgently build-back if we are to be on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030.
“Evidently, one of the most effective ways to do this is by strengthening existing partnerships between the public and private sectors and other critical stakeholders.
“We have seen classical demonstrations of these partnerships in the fight against COVID-19,” she stated.
She said the Lafarge Africa webinar “is in line with our idea of the Private Sector Advisory Group on SDGs, which is to create a strategic platform for galvanising ideas, mobilising expertise and financial resources in support of the achievement of the SDGs in Nigeria.”
Orelope-Adefulire noted that financing sustainable development was not just about mobilising capital for specific projects and programmes.
“It is equally about ensuring the organised private sector becomes adapted to financing for sustainable development, by altering the way in which private finance operates so that its own processes are both sustainable and support sustainability,” she added.
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She called for enhanced public-private partnership as seen in the fight against COVID-19 to overcome the challenges ahead.
Mr Ade Adefioye, Lafarge Africa Chairman, said its sustainability strategy was focused on four pillars: Climate and Energy, Circular Economy, Environment and Community.
“With the impact of COVID-19 and more than before, our commitment to sustainability is absolute. Joining this conversation today is one of the ways we want to further entrench economic and social governance,” Adefioye said.
Country Chief Executive, Lafarge Africa Plc, Khaled El-Dokani, explained that the Sustainability Series was a four-week long engagement that would focus on what was needed collectively to achieve a more measurable impact and accelerate the SDGs.
He added that “it affords an opportunity to share best practices for adoption in Nigeria and agree collectively how we can jointly progress the SDGs from the decade of action.”