Jomain McKenzie, development coordinating officer with the United Nations has emphasised that partnerships are key to Jamaica achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We want to remind you that the SDGs remain relevant. The agenda of the SDGs, coupled with Vision 2030, is still applicable today. Partnership practices are still having an impact and, as we scale them up, we will be able to accelerate SDGs achievement for Jamaica,” he said.
McKenzie made the point while addressing the Council of Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) recently convened sector meeting under the theme ‘Farther together: partnerships, the key to Jamaica’s sprint for the Sustainable Development Goals,’ where he was the guest speaker.
“Civil Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and the voluntary sectors add value as implementers, as advocates as data sources, these sectors are true drivers of the SDGs,” he said.
Jamaica making progress
Giving a status update on Jamaica’s progress as it relates to the SDGs, McKenzie said that while there are achievements of some of the SDGs, there were also gaps. He informed the participants that the country is on track in maintaining SDG achievement in decent work and economic growth, gender equality, responsible consumption and production.
“Data up to 2021 suggest that we are moderately improving in climate action, protecting life below water, good health, and well-being. Sadly, there is some inadequate movement as it relates to poverty and affordable energy. We are seeing a reverse in quality education due in part to the learning loss crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Citing other areas of improvement, he said Jamaica has some decline in poverty prevalence, with an 11 per cent decline in 2019 to 19.3 per cent in 2017. He however, pointed out the disparity in the performance as it relates to poverty improvement in rural versus urban areas.
“In quality education, we are seeing high enrolment levels from early childhood education up to grade 11, but still the learning loss [has impacted on the progress made in this area],” he said.
McKenzie disclosed that there is also improvement in gender parity where Jamaica ranked 44th globally in 2018 and 40th in 2021. He noted that males are still underrepresented at the tertiary level and in training programmes.
There is also a reduction in youth unemployment between 2015 and 2019 but as a Small Island Development State, Jamaica is vulnerable to shocks [such as natural disasters], which will impact growth, he said.
“We are seeing increases in the total protected forest areas up to 28.8 per cent in the period. But we are still experiencing competing land use priorities and in SDGs 16 while we were able to launch the National Plan of Action in response to children and violence, we all know that the island is still experiencing high levels of violent crime which impacts social services and the economy on a whole,” he said.
Nancy Pinchas, executive director of the CVSS said that SDG goal number 17, which speaks to the strengthening means of implementation through partnership is a pivotal goal that underpins all the other 16 goals.
“There are several targets under this goal which has to do with mobilising resources, accessing resources, knowledge and information sharing. There is one element which is relevant and important to all of us and that is encouraging effective partnership,” she explained as she underscored the importance of collection of reliable data which she said will enhance the ability of civil society to demonstrate how effective it has been in achieving these goals.
The sessions are being held in partnership with the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) under the theme ‘Ignite CSO 2023 … Enhancing CARIFORUM’s Civil Society Capacity to Participate in National and Regional Development Programming and Policymaking’.