By Sundus Abass, SDGs Focal point – UNDP Iraq:
Iraq is one of the developing countries which has a lack of data availability for several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), organized two workshops on how NGOs can have effective role in gathering selected SDGs indicators data.
This initiative came after series of meetings with NGOs and the Iraqi Government representatives towards enabling the social inclusion environment, as Iraq will present its first Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) report at the UN High-Level Political Forum HLPF) in 2019, to share its success and challenges in localization of the 2030 Agenda goals and targets.
The workshops aimed to raise the awareness level of NGOs in the field of SDGs, in particular, SDG 5, as well as emphasize the importance of the partnership between NGOs and the Government on the preparing process of the first Iraq VNR report, and on leaving no one behind.
Although the local NGOs have a distinguish role in drafting shadow reports, such as (Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women CEDAW and Security Council resolution (1325), they faced a huge gap on tackling different issues from SDGs perspective.
The six-day workshops (November 20-22, and December 6-8, 2018) organized in Baghdad engaged about 34 representatives from different national and international NGOs across Iraq, with multi working backgrounds. The workshop assessed and discussed the roles of NGOs in the SDGs localizations, in order to meet the country’s challenges of the transition from a crisis context to sustainable development.
After a brief presentation of SDGs, with a significant focus on SDG5 and SDG16 targets and indicators, the participants were divided into three working groups to discuss the applicability, needs, gender equality, peace, justice and good governance. These working groups allowed the participant to deepen their knowledge of the SDGs, raising awareness about SDGs implementation and help them to connect their own activities as non-governmental players with Agenda 2030.
Based on deep discussions on the role of civil society in peace building and in drafting the national framework for recovery and development, Participants set the priorities and mechanisms which are related to the economic empowerment of women, gender equality, and promote the establishment of peaceful societies.
They agreed to establish NGOs Alliance under the tittle “Sustainable Development Network 2030” which will be working on promoting sustainable development goals in different governmental and non-governmental sectors. This initiative emphasized the importance of involving NGOs with the government, particularly, with Ministry of Planning to participate in the preparation process of the development plans and strategies, as NGOs can provide support and technical assistance through communication and coordination.
The Chief of Hawa Organization for Relief and Development, one of the main local NGOs partner with UNDP, Buthinaa Mahomuad said: “we commend the usual effort of UNDP to support the NGOs on launching a roadmap for SDGs localization in Iraq, to be integrated with the Government as NGOs were unaware of the importance of Agenda 2030”. In addition, SDGs focal point in UNDP –Iraq, Ms. Sundus Abass mentioned that: “our prioritized target is to domesticate SDGs successfully in Iraq, which should be done through leaving no one behind and especially the NGOs”.
The first activity that had been launched by the Sustainable Development Network 2030, on January 2019, was the informal data collection for SDG 16 indicators. As Facebook is one of the most used social media platforms in Iraq, it had been used by the network to gather data related to SDG 16 indicators, through a questionnaire form that had been prepared via the national VNR committee.
The Sustainable Development Network 2030 developed the questionnaire form and published it to various local NGOs, youth, and academia pages on Facebook with an encouragement for the audience to share their experience. more than 1000 people respond to the questionnaire within the first three weeks of January 2019. The collected data was sent to the Central Statistics Bureau to analyze it and send it back to the VNR committee, to be used for first Iraq VNR, which is considered as the first action towards the establishment of the principles of leaving no one behind in the country.