Sustainable and resilient development can best be achieved through an integrated approach that builds on the synergies of actions on climate, development and resilience. Implementing the three major global development frameworks namely; Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development (SDGs), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, through systematic programmatic integration and mainstreaming in development plans and policies, offer an unprecedented approach offering the opportunity of achieving multiple development benefits.
There are many potential entry-points for effectively integrating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Action, including through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) into development frameworks at national and sub-national levels. Integration could happen based on the need to implement several closely linked SDGs in a disaster-prone setting exasperated by more frequent and extreme weather events as a result of climate change. It can also stem from a deliberate effort, out of recognition of the imperative to integrate the three international frameworks and to achieve risk-informed, resilient and sustainable development. In other occasions, it may be due to a need to approach multiple development challenges in a holistic manner as the silos approach has often than not proved ineffective.
In the case of Zambia, the government saw the development of its 7th National Development Plan (2017-2021) and the pursuit of its Vision of a prosperous middle-income nation by 2030, as an opportune time to move from a sector-based to an integrated development planning approach. This prompted the need for a shift in its national development planning processes, requiring a framework that adequately and systematically integrates the SDGs, DRR and climate action around national development needs and priorities to reduce poverty and advance socio-economic development.
To achieve this goal, the Government of Zambia developed a first volume of its National Development Plan, comprising broad goals and aspirations for a diversified and resilient economy. To elaborate it further into an effective implementation plan, the government solicited support from UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa. The aim was to develop a methodology and common framework for a comprehensive and practicable implementation plan that would also meet both national information sharing needs and obligatory reporting requirements on the SDGs, the DRR Framework and the Paris Agreement implementation progress.
As a way of putting into practice the UNDP cross-practice approach to delivering national development solutions the SDG Advisor and the CC/DRR Specialist at UNDP’s Regional Service Center joined efforts and worked with the Government of Zambia, UNDP Country Office, UNCT and a wide range of national stakeholders to integrate and mainstream the country’s priorities into a common methodology and framework. The result is an 8-step process incorporating the UN Development Group’s Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support for the implementation of the SDGs, the SDGs principle of ‘leaving no one behind’, Results Based Management principles, gender equality and women’s empowerment, vertical policy coherence and integration of DRR and Climate Action using the SDGs, Sendai framework and Climate Action targets and indicators as outlined in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. The methodology is designed to use various tools for turning national goals and aspirations into a concise and comprehensive Implementation Plan that provides a national blue-print for development. Zambia’s Seventh National Development Plan is now a pioneering model for integrating the three multi-lateral agreements into a resilient and sustainable national development framework.
The approach has been framed into an easy-to-follow, stepwise methodology and guidance manual that can be used to effectively integrate and mainstream the SDGs, DRR and Climate Action into development plans.
Having been actively involved in supporting the Government of Zambia in developing its Seventh National Development Plan, I was able to experience firsthand the great opportunity that National Development Plans provide as an entry point for setting the path for resilient and sustainable socio-economic development while reducing climate and disaster risks to development objectives.
Given that most of the disasters experienced today in Africa are related to natural hazards intensified by climate change, I strongly believe that integrating and mainstreaming climate action (Paris agreement) in development planning is indeed a sure way of advancing implementation of disaster risk reduction (the Sendai framework) in the context of SDGs in an integrated manner.