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The African Policy Circle goes UN

by Victoria-Charlotte Browning

Progress, challenges and prospects in the implementation of the Agenda 2030

Empowering local influencers through dialogue on the 2030 Agenda

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While the engines in New York and around the globe are running high in preparation of the UN Ocean Conference, KAS invited a group of African influencers from Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Nigeria to NYC to participate in a dialogue program discussing progress, challenges and prospects in the implementation of the Agenda 2030.

The delegates bring years of experience in the development sector to the discussion table, specializing on topics such as conflict prevention, resource mobilization, women’s rights, the role of women in conflict and post-conflict settings, regional cooperation and foreign policy of African countries, among others. All delegates are currently in leadership positions at impactful African grassroots organizations or research institutions. Dr. Oladiran Bello is the Executive Director of Good Governance Africa (GGA) in Nigeria, Aditi Lalbahadur is the Programme Manager for the Foreign Policy Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), Mrs. Kezie-Nwoha is the Executive Director of Isis Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange in Uganda and Mrs. Salina Sanou is the Head of Policy and Advocacy at the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) in Kenya. The participants of the delegation share their common membership in the KAS-supported African Policy Circle (APC), a platform for African civil society which seeks to empower and inform policy making at the country level. Mr. Winfried Weck - coordinator on development and human rights policies in the KAS Headquarters in Berlin, initially helped to institute the African Policy Circle and accompanied the delegation to New York.

Delegates met with relevant departments and institutions within the United Nations system as well as with members of academic institutions, Think Tanks, and NGOs to discuss the SDGs as well as peace and security issues over the course of a four-day program.


When meeting the APC delegation, Dr. Andreas Pfeil - Development and Economic Affairs Counselor at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, underlined that the duty bearers for the 2030 vision are not merely governments but a variety of stakeholders. He emphasized the need for sustainable development to be achieved through incentives rather than punishments. In this regard he reiterated Germany's support for the high-level political forum (HLPF) on sustainable development, convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which are scheduled to take place every summer and intended to offer countries a platform to share their implementation progress at the regional and sub-regional levels. Babatunde Omilola - Head of Development Planning and Inclusive Sustainable Growth at the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) emphasized the need for multi-stakeholder approaches in the implementation of the finance mechanisms of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. When meeting the APC delegation, he especially underlined the importance of domestic resource mobilization and financial returns through social investments as key factors in the financing of the SDGs. Björn Gillsäter - Manager and Deputy Head of Mission of the office of the World Bank Group to the United Nations explained to delegates that UN-World Bank relations are at an all-time high and that the World Bank's engagement with the SDGs has come a long way. Just recently the World Bank's International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) launched unprecedented bonds that will directly link returns to the performance of companies advancing global development objectives set out in the SDGs, including gender equality, health and sustainable infrastructure. Dr. Nkeiruka Didigu - Global Agenda Technical Specialist at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) briefed the delegation on the most pressing development priorities regarding the management of populations and expressed her concern with regards to the lack of global data. She underlined that in order to "reach the furthest behind first" it is essential to bring people out of the shadow of data gaps. Marco Segone, Director at the Independent Evaluation Office of UN Women and Chair of the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) discussed the importance of recurring evaluations in development policies with the APC delegation. He too reiterated the gravity of lacking data but went a step further by affirming the need to strengthen evaluation capacities on the country level which he identified as the foundation for follow-up and review mechanisms. Olajobi Makinwa - Chief of Africa Division at UN Global Compact lectured delegates on the current challenges and opportunities in engaging the private sector to be a champion of the Agenda 2030. She explained that making choices in line with the principles of sustainable development makes good business sense and that those who make the effort often lead the markets in their industry. She emphasized that viewing private entities merely to be potential donors is false, and rather encouraged the empowerment of companies to be partners in implementing the Agenda 2030. Joe Colombano - Deputy Director of the Sustainable Development Unit at the UN Headquarters briefed the delegation on the latest developments in the Secretariat since Secretary-General António Guterres and Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed started their tenure in January 2017. Mr. Colombano explained that the new UN leadership was quick to reassert the importance of the 2030 Agenda and swiftly took on reform proposals that include a focus on gender parity and the inclusion of youth. He however also emphasized that SG Guterres and DSG Mohammed want to make impact by transitioning the current system, without creating new UN-structures. He named accountability as a key focus in the priorities of the new Secretary-General.


Rolf Reinhard – Counsellor at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations briefed the delegation on Secretary-General Guterres’ emphasis on prevention and in particular mediation. He explained that the Secretary-General’s approach echoes the identical resolutions adopted in 2016 by the UN Security Council and the General Assembly on "Sustaining Peace", which put conflict prevention in the centre of the UN system. Aware of how the failure to prevent conflict can lead to human tragedy, Germany supports a stronger focus on conflict prevention in the UN. Last year, Reinhard explained, Germany contributed over four million USD to the UN Mediation Support Team. Prof. Dr. Richard Gowan - Professor at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) predicted that with SG Guterres' close relationship to UNHCR such as with his well-rounded network in Africa, UN peacekeeping efforts could be redefined in the years to come. He explained that this development is already observable in the UN's refocusing on mediation initiatives and conflict prevention. Dr. Aleksandra Dier - Office of the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Conflict Prevention in the UN Department of Political Affairs, Vincent Kayijuka - Senior Peacebuilding Officer at the UN Peacebuilding Support Office of the United Nations Secretariat and Dr. Tobias Privitelli - First Secretary at the Mission of Switzerland to the UN, met the APC delegation to discuss peacebuilding efforts in the case of Burundi. Dr. Dier, Dr. Privitelli and Mr. Kayijuka emphasized the need for international efforts to be coordinated effectively and encouraged a holistic approach in peacebuilding, thereby addressing issues of domestic politics, human rights and socioeconomic developments alike. All three speakers called upon the international community to stay vigilant and engaged in the situation in Burundi. David Scharia, Director of the counter terrorism branch at the United Nations Security Council Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) visited the KAS NY office with a selected group of experts from the CTED to participate in a workshop on Counter-Terrorism in Africa with the APC delegation. In an exercise of the workshop, delegates compared the root causes of terrorism in their respective countries (Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria). Common trends identified included unemployment, impunity of organized crime, xenophobia and racism, loss of identity in youth, poverty, fragility of statehood, trafficking of weapons, religious extremism and ecological strains.

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Andrea Ellen Ostheimer

Andrea Ostheimer

Director KAS Genf Office +41 79 318 9841


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