The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were completed in 2015, however, many goals went unfulfilled, giving rise to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the expanding wealth gap, which is intensifying inequality and worsening poverty, unemployment, and inequality, particularly in developing countries like South Africa. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015 signaled the world’s leaders banding together in unison to solve the issues that must be addressed if humanity is to live on this planet.
The SDGs are a blueprint for a better, more sustainable future for everyone, addressing concerns such as poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice, among others. The SDGs seek to improve the world for people and the environment by 2030 and to ensure that everyone has a safe and inclusive future. The 193 members of the United Nations will work together to achieve the SDGs. The SDGs aim to eliminate all types of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, ensuring that everyone, particularly children, has access to sufficient food throughout the year. This involves supporting sustainable agriculture, aiding small-scale farmers, and ensuring equal access to markets, technology, and land for all.
Given South Africa’s long history of poverty and marginalization for the vast majority of its people, the SDGs are about development and transformation as well as restoring people’s dignity everywhere. South Africa recently established a national coordinating mechanism for national engagements and reporting on the 2030 Agenda, the AU Agenda 2063, and the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), in alignment with the National Development Programme, in recognition of the interconnectedness of these complementary aspirations and developmental agendas.
South Africa was instrumental in advancing the process and negotiating the SDGs’ acceptance on the African continent and beyond. South Africa’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) underlines the country’s commitment to fully implementing the 2030 Agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals are inextricably linked to South Africa’s national development policy. The SDGs give a well-thought-out approach to addressing the country’s development concerns. They also support the National Development Plan (NDP) of South Africa, which is a long-term growth strategy.
South Africa led the African Union (AU) in establishing eight long-term development goals for the continent in 2013. There are significant similarities between the SDGs and South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP), which are frequently noted in South Africa. The SDGs have the potential to speed the National Development Program’s implementation by encouraging more policy coherence and minimizing duplication and inefficiencies. The SDGs, which are closely tied to the South African National Development Plan, can be used as a yardstick to assess development both worldwide and, more importantly, locally, to determine how successfully the country has met its residents’ goals for a “better life for all.” In this way, the NDP and SDGs are aligned in terms of both set development priorities and, more crucially, a strong focus on the critical role of multi-stakeholder partnerships in accomplishing the country’s development goals.
Domesticating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires developing, executing, and analyzing local activities and policies that contribute to global SDG achievement. Domestication of the UN SDGs has advanced in several countries throughout the world. The process of creating, implementing, and evaluating local strategies for achieving global, national, and subnational sustainable development objectives and targets is referred to as domesticating SDGs. Several specialized structures, methodologies, innovations, platforms, and procedures are required for the development agenda to effectively convert into results at the local level. Domestication refers to the process through which local governments incorporate the SDGs into their planning, budgeting, governance, and service delivery systems. Greater integration of the social, economic, and environmental pillars of growth would be possible with local strategic planning. It is also critical to strengthen territorial coherence by increasing integration between urban and rural areas. To realize the development agenda beyond 2030, local and regional governments must promote sustainable and equitable growth within their respective regions. No doubt, local governments are best positioned to facilitate the mobilization of local development stakeholders, particularly the NGO and private sectors, local communities, and national and international organizations, for promoting inclusive sustainable development within their respective localities, according to the international development community and national governments. As a result, they are perfectly placed to build and implement sectoral and cross-cutting integrated plans to accomplish the SDGs.
Identifying local stakeholders for framework implementation, analyzing and defining local government and other stakeholders’ roles and functions in implementing targets, defining mechanisms and processes to facilitate implementation processes, identifying capacity gaps among local stakeholders, and analyzing participation and inclusiveness for implementation processes are just a few of the critical focus areas that must be addressed. Acceptable attempts have been made to domesticate and implement the SDGs in South Africa, with several targets being met by 2030. Some projects, some of which precede the 2030 Agenda, are aligned with the SDGs and are based on the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030. South Africa retained several ongoing projects while working to better align them with the 2030 Agenda, particularly where they intersected with the NDP Vision 2030 and the SDGs.
Effective local government can allow a diverse range of local stakeholders to participate, resulting in broad-based ownership, commitment, and accountability. Local governments play an important role in bringing together large players and local stakeholders engaged in local development. In this context, they earn exceptional legitimacy through local democratic accountability and significant collaboration with residents and local communities. The most difficult aspect of domestication is trying to build a local geographic approach for the post-2015 development framework. This can be accomplished by segmenting data by location and ensuring that local governments play a stronger role in determining priorities, implementing strategies, tracking outcomes, and engaging with local communities and the business sector.
The implementation of the SDGs in South Africa within the context of current regional and national strategic plans, such as the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the country’s own National Development Plan (NDP), emphasizes the significance of effective collaboration. At the national level, South Africa has endeavoured to link the execution of the NDP with the SDGs and Agenda 2063. The NDP has had a considerable impact on South Africa’s stance toward Agenda 2063 and the SDGs since its introduction in 2012. This congruence implies that activities to accomplish the SDGs may have a major impact on achieving the nation’s national priorities, as described in the NDP, and vice versa.
South Africa has embraced the SDGs by localizing them through the National Development Plan. Promoting good governance principles to accomplish the SDGs is no longer enough. In South Africa, there is an increasing concern over cleanliness and safe drinking water. Others claim that contrary to academics and civil society practitioners, the difficulties in delivering clean water supply are the result of poor management and unethical behaviour in local government. South Africa would struggle to meet SDG 6 and the other SDGs. In South Africa, it is vital to develop and implement good governance practices. All municipalities in South Africa should appoint moral and effective leaders to promote long-term development and governance.
By 2030, the National Development Plan seeks to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. South Africa may achieve these objectives by harnessing its people’s resources, promoting an inclusive economy, strengthening the state, boosting capabilities, and encouraging leadership and collaboration across society. Domestication provides a more comprehensive overall picture of local development and aids in correctly portraying local community realities.
The domesticating SDGs project strives to assist and guide local decision-makers and administrations in their attempts to sub-nationally localize the Sustainable Development Goals. While the SDGs must be reached on a global scale, many of the necessary actions must be undertaken on a local level. It is obvious from the preceding that, to attain South Africa’s development goals, partnerships, and the significance of involving many stakeholders through domestication were recognized before the establishment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. South Africa has the opportunity to expedite the transition to an inclusive, sustainable growth path that achieves the SDGs in line with the country’s own National Development Programme.
Dr. Stanley Ehiane is an academician and writes in his personal capacity.