|+ New energy NGOs, business and government to work on SDGs
"Expect to work together longer and more closely, get better at reporting and involve more local people" - was the big message out of last week's New Zealand Aid and Development Dialogues (NZADDs) symposium New Futures for New Zealand’s Development Cooperation in an SDG World.
Under Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau talked about the importance of values in the government's approach: "We're interested in development that works". Fresh ideas and approaches are welcome.
Deputy Director Jonathan Kings highlighted recent research that shows some countries (PNG, Solomons and Timor Leste for example) are not on track to achieve the SDGs. Natural disasters are on the increase, and youth unemployment in the Pacific is high. The SDGs can help us hold ourselves accountable for making a difference.
While intended as a "smorgasbord" of ideas, the sessions were more of a hearty show of convergent ideas across sectors, said Massey University's Dr Helen Leslie. "We need deeper, different, more meaningful long-term engagement."
This is not a new conversation, but the energy behind it comes from the extra funding that has been allocated to the Pacific in the latest budget.
Speakers agreed a cross party alliance on aid and development is needed and would remove uncertainty for people on the ground, allowing a focus on quality. It was noted that aid and development needs to be "demand-led" and developed with communities. "Everything we do, even if you're a business, has to be done with communities."
We too need to report clearly on what we've achieved and have dedicated budget lines for aid work. MFAT assured participants that since 2016 there has been a fully integrated approach to reporting on the SDGs in the Pacific.
On this note, the reset was a big topic of conversation. "The real reset needs to be in New Zealand's behaviour. The funding needs to be spent on regional entities, supporting local Pacific initiatives instead of funds going through the UN," agreed some speakers.
There is a lot of work being done domestically on well-being in both policy and how we measure progress, and we could apply the same approach to development. The economy is there to serve society, and this wedding cake image (created by the Stockholm Resilience Centre) is a fantastic way for New Zealand to think about the SDGs.
Gerard Prinsen brought us back to the opportunities and need in Africa. "In the next 20 years more Africans will join the labour force than the rest of the world combined." Africa's size and the amount of work being done there by different organisations makes for a fantastic centre of innovation. New Zealand has the opportunity to partner in Africa with international bodies and NGOs.
Our thanks to NZADDs for such a wonderful morning. All the talks can be watched over on the NZADDs website.