On Thursday, 17th of December 2020, the official launch event of Afghanistan chapter of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) was held virtually through Zoom video conferencing software in the presence of over 300+ participants from the Afghan government, the international community, private sector, academia, research thinks tanks and civil society organizations.
Hosted by SDSN Afghanistan secretariat, the launch event was also virtually attended by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, President of UN SDSN as keynote speaker, H. E. Abas Basir, Minister of Higher Education, Afghanistan as the chief guest speaker, Mr. Ali Ahmad Yousefi, Chair of SDSN Afghanistan and Chancellor of Kateb University; panel speakers including Mr. Nasir Sidiqee, Deputy Minister of Finance for Policy of Ministry of Finance, Ms. Naheed Sarabi, Policy Advisor at UNDP Afghanistan, Dr. Keith Shaw, SDG Integration Advisor at UNDP Afghanistan, Dr. Nishank Motwani, Deputy Director of AREU, Mr. Zia Shefaie, Co-Chair of SDSN Afghanistan, and Mr. Miwais Nahzat, Chief Operation Officer of Kardan University; guest speakers including María Cortés Puch, Vice-President of UN SDSN and Prof. Mohammad Shafi Sharifi, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs of Kabul University.
The event was moderated by Mr. Abdullah Alemi, Program Analyst of SDSN Afghanistan and co-hosted by Dorothea Strüber, Manager of UN SDSN’s Regional and National Networks. The launch event was opened by Mr. Farhat, Network Manager of SDSN Afghanistan who expressed thanks to colleagues at SDSN Afghanistan, UN SDSN, Kateb University. In following, Mr. Farhat introduced the agenda of the official launch event of SDSN Afghanistan, SDSN Afghanistan 3 main programs which are 1) Awareness and Engagement, 2) Teach Afghanistan, and 3) Solutions for Sustainable Development.
E-dialogue on SDGs” Panel
Ms. Naheed Sarabi, Policy Advisor at UNDP Afghanistan mentioned the three SDG related areas that UNDP want to work on which are 1) Data collection and analysis, 2) Helping Afghan government with integrating SDGs into policies, and 3) Finding alternative and sustainable sources for SDG financing.
Dr. Keith Shaw, SDG Integration Advisor at UNDP Afghanistan highlighted the role of UNDP as a support function for SDG integration in Afghanistan. Dr. Shaw thinks that there is a need for pushing human development in consideration to planetary life and environment; and how to get these two things to work together, interact and influence each other.
Mr. Zia Shefaie, C0-Chair of SDSN Afghanistan, stressed the essential role of cross-sectoral partnership in achieving SDGs in Afghanistan. Mr. Shefaie talked on the siloed nature of partnership among different sectors in Afghanistan, and he further pinpointed that to achieve SDGs in Afghanistan, more contribution and collaboration among relevant stakeholders is crucial.
Dr. Nishank Motwani, Deputy Director of Afghanistan Research Evaluation Unit (AREU), mentioned the challenge of misinformation in monitoring and reporting in regard to SDGs in Afghanistan. He further pointed out that the is a shortage in evidence-based research which is necessary for formulating timely accurate data and information on SDGs.
Mr. Nasir Sidiqee, Deputy Minister of Finance for Policy at Ministry of Finance, stated that Afghan government is doing great in achieving SDGs in Afghanistan through integrating SDGs into policies and programs such as Afghanistan National Development Peace Framework (ANPDF) and NPPs. While he addressed the role of government in achieving SDGs in Afghanistan, he highlighted that other stakeholder such as international community, higher education and research institutions are also required to take part in leading progress towards achieving the Agenda of 2030. To smooth the process of achieving SDGs in Afghanistan, he mentioned that the Ministry of Finance takes the responsibility to facilitate opportunities for the mentioned stakeholders.
Mr. Mirwais Nahzat, Chief Operation Officer of Kardan University, talked on how universities can take the lead towards policy and program formulation, design and implementation to achieve SDGs in Afghanistan. “Universities can act as an incubation centre for SDGs,” said Mr. Nahzat, COO of Kardan University. He further recommended that partnership among public and private universities can push for more SDG related initiatives, in which he mentioned that SDSN Afghanistan is a leading example in this area.
The official launch event
The welcoming speech was delivered by Mr. Ali Ahmad Yousefi, the Chancellor of Kateb University and Chair of SDSN Afghanistan who welcomed the guests and participants and appreciated the work of SDSN Afghanistan team on holding the official launch event of SDSN Afghanistan. The official launch event had H.E. Abbas Basir, Minister of Higher Education as a chief guest speaker and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, President of UN SDSN as a keynote speaker. The guest speakers were respected Prof. Mohammad Shafi Sharifi, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Kabul University and Ms. María Cortés Puch, Vice President of networks at UN SDSN.
The Leadership Council members of SDSN Afghanistan are UNDP Afghanistan, Kateb University, Kardan University, Kabul University, ACBAR, Afghanistan National Education Coalition (ANEC), Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU), Ministry of Economy, ICC-Afghanistan, Bahar Sarab Group of Companies, and respected Ibrahim Qasimi, Former Parliament Member.