Windhoek-The chairperson of the National Council, Margaret Mensah-Williams, has urged members of parliament (MPs) to seriously debate how Namibia can attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This comes after Speaker of the National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi recently expressed concern regarding the slow pace towards the implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, as per Namibia’s commitment at the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
In particular, Katjavivi was concerned regarding Goal 16, on the progress of which Namibia is expected to start reporting in July.
Namibia participated in the UN Summit for the Adoption of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and SDGs, held from September 25 to 27, 2015 in New York as a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly.
The SDGs – otherwise known as the ‘Global Goals’ – are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
The SDGs build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), while including new focus areas, such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other key priorities.
Katjivivi went to the extent of organising a two-day workshop for MPs to promote the culture of peace in policy making and the implementation of SDG 16, which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
During the official opening of the National Council on Monday, Mensah-Williams reiterated this year’s theme for parliament, ‘Parliament Working Towards the Attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.
She said, as individual lawmakers, they have to come up with strategies on how to incorporate the SDGs, which are also addressed by the Harambee Prosperity Plan. She told MPs that such strategies are not only noted in their contributions towards the Bills, but also to be incorporated in the soon to be launched strategic plan and into the MPs annual activity plans.
“This is the task and challenge we have been given and entrusted with by those we represent. The general public is aware of our theme and is following the debates in both houses of parliament to listen if parliamentarians are sticking to the theme.
“People also want to know what individual members of parliament are bringing to the table to ensure that indeed parliament is working towards the attainment of the 17 SDGs,” she remarked.
She further said the National Council has a crucial role to play in the successful implementation of the SDGs in Namibia. Through the oversight function, she said, they can monitor and ensure government at all levels incorporates the SDGs into its developmental projects and public services.
Mensah-Williams thus requested the National Council standing committees, when implementing their annual activities, such as conducting public hearings and outreach programmes in the regions, to both bring the SDGs to the attention of the government officials on the ground and to ensure the implementation thereof in line with government priorities.
She also highlighted some major bills the National Assembly has passed and referred to the National Council for review. These include the Appropriation Amendment Bill, Nature Conservation Amendment Bill, Access to Biological and Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge Bill, as well as the Witness Protection Bill.
She announced that the National Council will be hosting the first ever session of the Junior National Council from May 24 to 26 under the theme ‘Parliament Engages Youth Perspectives on the SDGs’. In this regard, she called on MPs to render their support to their youth counterparts and mentor them to be the parliamentarians of the future.
She also announced the upcoming Fourth Session of the rural women’s parliament with men as partners, which will be held from June 28 to 30 in the NC chambers under the theme ‘Parliament Partners with Rural Women to Attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’.
She further requested MPs’ support in assisting her office, as well as the governors in their respective regions to facilitate the identification and election of the most suitable women and men to represent their region next month.