Private sector and academia must help in poverty fight: UN

02 Sep 2016 15:00pm
WINDHOEK, 02 SEP (NAMPA) - UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia Kiki Gbeho has challenged academia and the private sector to help Government accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“If Namibia is to emerge victorious in its war on poverty by 2025, a new action oriented approach, inclusive of the private sector and supported by academia is imperative,” Gbeho said here on Thursday at the High Performance Movement Lecture Series hosted by the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business.
The SDGs were adopted by United Nations (UN) Member States in September 2015. They form part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes the 17 SDGs to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change by 2030.
The SDGs build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the world had targeted to achieve by 2015. The MDGs aimed to combat poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and access to water and sanitation.
Although significant progress was made on the MDGs, the world felt that the indignity of poverty has not been ended for all, hence the adoption of SDGs.
Namibia launched the domestication of the SDGs in June this year but Gbeho said the implementation of the development goals needs the research and thought capability of academia and the energy and innovation of the private sector’s creative approaches to address poverty and inequality.
She noted that although accelerating economic growth is one of the most effective global poverty eradication tools, global best practice and research has established that economic growth alone is not sufficient for sustainable and inclusive poverty eradication.
Gbeho, who is also United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative, said the private sector’s innovation and entrepreneurship can continue to foster bottom-up growth. Private sector could help solve the challenge of serving people in hard to reach places by creating distribution links to consumers in urban distressed areas and poor rural villages while also harnessing knowledge about the actual needs of these communities.
She said the private sector can also create decent jobs through small and medium enterprises and spur economic growth while acting as incubator for larger firms.
With regards to finding solutions to climate change challenges, Gbeho said private sector can make available low cost technologies to farmers to reverse soil degradation, conserve water and find energy solutions for irrigation and manufacturing.
Although Namibia has made strides in terms of development, gender parity, high number of school going children, reduction of HIV infections, reduction of poverty on the continent, the UN Resident chief said the country still has unfinished business.
With a Gini coefficient of 0.59 per cent, inequality in Namibia is still high with approximately 27 per cent of Namibians living in poverty while youth unemployment is at 39 per cent. In addition, the 2016 Global Innovation Index ranks Namibia 93rd out of 128 countries. Namibia also ranks 90th on knowledge creation and 7th on university/industry collaboration and despite the high expenditure on education, the country ranks 100th on human capital and research potential. These statistics, Gbeho said, provides an opportunity for academia to support private sector to develop solutions for sustainable production in order to preserve scarce resources.
“As Namibia develops its fifth National Development Plan (NDP5) and implements the global and regional development frameworks (SDGs and Agenda 2063), academia has an important role to play in providing relevant baseline data and analysis. Academia will be critical in tracking progress needed to measure success and to ensure accountability,” she noted.