Promoting the alignment of development plans with the Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in partnership with the Ministry of Planning in Baghdad and the Ministry of Planning in Kurdistan region, organized two consecutive workshops to review and discuss the alignment of plans and policies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and identify priorities.
This initiative comes at a particular juncture, as Iraq will be presenting its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) report at the High-Level Political Forum in 2019 to share about its experience with the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.
The Government of Iraq, with support from multiple development partners, has engaged in developing new strategies and plans to meet the challenges of transitioning from a crisis context to sustainable development. The Government of Iraq has prepared the National Development Plan (NDP 2018-2022) with the support of UNDP and other UN Agencies; it also developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) with the purpose of targeting the most vulnerable groups, especially in most deprived and peripheral areas; as well as a Reconstruction and Development Framework (2018-2027).
The Government has also engaged in developing a ‘Vision 2030’ that is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDGs and identifies and addresses medium and long-term strategic development priorities.
The two-day workshop (October 3-4, 2018) organized in Baghdad engaged over 60 professionals and representatives from different ministries and civil society organizations on assessing and discussing alignment of the National Development Plan (2018-2022) and Iraq draft Vision 2030 with the SDGs targets and indicators. In Erbil, the two-day workshop (October 7-8, 2018) was attended by 20 representatives from different ministries and discussed the alignment of KRI Vision 2020 (Kurdistan Region of Iraq: A Vision for the future) as well as the Kurdistan Region Government’s new Economic Reform Roadmap from an SDG lens.
During the workshops, experts from UNDP Regional Hub, Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development Team in Amman (Dr. Nathalie Milbach Bouché, Team Leader, and Mr. Fekadu Terefe, Specialist) familiarized participants with UNDP Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA), a tool which has now been used by more than 60 countries to assess the level of alignment between the SDGs targets and indicators and national priorities in existing policy and planning frameworks at national and sub-national levels.
The experts presented preliminary findings of the RIA of the National Development Plan (2018-2022) of Iraq and the draft Vision 2030 of Iraq, as well as the Vision 2020 of Kurdistan Region of Iraq. These initial findings suggest a significant degree of alignment between the strategic priorities of Iraq and KRI existing Visions, plans, SDGs and targets, including a significant focus on people and prosperity issues, as well as effective and accountable institutions (SDG 16). However, some gaps, including inclusion and environmental sustainability issues deserve attention, alongside efforts to strengthen the availability of monitoring indicators.
Group sessions were organized to discuss these findings, allowing participants to both deepen their knowledge of the SDGs and help them connect their own plans and work with the SDGs through the RIA. The exercise also proved critical in raising awareness about SDG implementation responsibilities and needs to strengthen inter-sectoral coordination. In Bagdad, participants were also introduced to various methodologies for SDG target prioritization, which stressed the need to consider inter-linkages between the SDGs and targets when setting priorities for SDG action.
The Deputy Minister of the Planning, Iraq – Baghdad, Dr. Mahar Jawhan, has said that “we commend the effort of UNDP in supporting the government in launching the Iraq Vision 2030 and preparing the voluntary national report (VNR) at the High-level Political Forum to be submitted in 2019”. In addition to that, the representative of UNDP – Baghdad, Sundus Abass, has mentioned that “aligning of the SDGs Goals, Targets, and Indicators with the Iraq National Development Plan 2030 is our roadmap to implement the SDGs agenda in Iraq”.
As a follow-up to the workshops, the preliminary findings from the RIAs will be further validated and consolidated by national and KRG stakeholders across sectors, also in light of other strategic documents. Findings will be disseminated and used to further harmonize Iraqi National Vision 2030 with the SDGs. In KRI, these shall contribute to informing the formulation of an updated Vision for KRI that is aligned with SDGs. The analysis shall also help Iraq showcase how the country has gone about integrating the SDGs in its core policy and planning frameworks during the country’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) Report at the 2019 UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF).