WHAT ARE SDGs?
On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force. Having endorsed Agenda 2030, the Government of Albania is aiming to embark upon a comprehensive implementation in line with the National Strategy for Development and Integration 2015-2020 (NSDI II) and the EU integration agenda.
The Government of Albania has initiated a number of efforts to implement the global development goals. First, the NSDI II is explicitly aligned to the SDGs. Secondly, in 2015, the Strategic Planning Unit/DDFFA, within the PM’s Office with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) implemented a pilot project to develop and test SDG16 targets and indicators to feed into the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) framework. As a result, a set of 21 governance indicators along with targets, baselines and sources of data were also integrated into the NSDI 2015-2020 pillars.
Where does Albania stand?
Having endorsed Agenda 2030 on 25 September 2015, the Albanian government, with the support of the UN in Albania, embarked upon a comprehensive implementation of the Agenda in line with the NSDI and the country’s EU integration agenda. The UN in Albania, through its established SDG Task Force and UN–INSTAT Joint Data Group, has sought to insert the SDGs into the development discourse in the country and interweave it with the EU agenda in several ways.
The SDGs are integrated into NSDI and the National Statistical Programme 2016–2020. The Rapid Integration Assessment tool of the UN (UNDP) has been applied, while the Report on the Harmonisation of SDGs with Existing Sectoral Policies, finalised in 2017 and launched in February 2018, serves as a useful baseline report. The first half of 2018 will see the development of a baseline analysis of the Albanian state budget against the SDGs, and a needs assessment of INSTAT capacities in the country, as well as establishment of the Albania SDG Acceleration Fund. Furthermore, a draft national action plan that outlines how Albania intends to pursue SDG achievement is being prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office, including elements on monitoring and coordination mechanisms, structures and capacity building, costs and funding, links among the SDGs, IPMGs and EU integration long-term recommendations.
An Inter-Ministerial Committee on SDGs chaired by the deputy prime minister and featuring membership of development partners, civil society, academia and the private sector, and an inter-institutional working group for achievement of SDGs were established by the prime minister in May 2017. Both structures are mandated to provide an inclusive long-term approach to sustainable development, including policy direction, planning, implementation, financing and reporting.
The Albanian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution on commitment to Agenda 2030 and the SDGs, outlining their commitment to promoting, financing and monitoring achievement of the SDGs and its positive relationship to EU integration. This will be achieved through a network of focal points positioned in each and every parliamentary commission, and through Parliament's power to convene inclusive discussions with the Albanian public and civil society.
As part of UN Albania efforts to establish partnerships with academics, 25 Albanian universities signed a Declaration of Commitment to play an active role in advancing the Agenda. The pledged commitment will be further advanced through academia’s role as a member of Albania’s high-level inter-ministerial SDG committee.
A pre-MAPS mission took place on 4 July 2017, supported by the UNDP regional office with the specific focus of looking at how SDGs and EU accession can work together, and whether or not a full multi-UN agency MAPS (Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support) mission could be helpful. Built around a half-day workshop, the mission assessed the utility of a subsequent full MAPS mission, as well as increased stakeholder voices in Albania to advocate for SDGs. The conclusion was that the necessary elements were in place to organise a full mission in the second quarter of 2018.
From 16-20 April 2018, the Government of Albania and the United Nations Country Team hosted the Sustainable Development Goals Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support Mission (MAPS). The MAPS Mission examined available data and Government policies and identified areas requiring accelerated action in order that targets – in areas ranging from employment to gender equality to environmental protection – are achieved. The multi-disciplinary MAPS team was composed of regional experts from ILO, UNDP, UNECE, UNFPA, UNESCO and WHO and drew on regional and global expertise of all UN agencies active in Albania. In addition, the MAPS team worked in close collaboration with the World Bank and EU offices in Tirana.
The Mission’s programme combined broad consultations involving the highest government officials, Members of Parliament, United Nations Country Team, national and international development partners, civil society, academia and private sector. At the end of the mission a MAPS Report was prepared containing suggestions on prioritization of SDGs targets, considering national development priorities and potential SDG 'accelerators'.
The MAPS mission findings fed into Albania’s voluntary national report (VNR) presented in July at the 2018 high-level political forum (HLPF). VNR preparation was based upon a long process of consultations held during 2018 Q1 with various stakeholders at the national and sub-national level focused on the prioritisation and nationalisation of SDGs and an overall adaptation of Agenda 2030 for Albania, including connections with EU integration processes.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Albania Ms.Senida Mesi attended the High Level Political Forum in NY in July 2018 and presented Albania’s Voluntary National Review on Sustainable Development Goals- a report which outlines Albania’s Path towards achieving Agenda 2030 and SDGs, progress achieved with factual data on the achievement of targets and indicators, as well as and reflections on what steps should be taken to achieve the Global Goals by the set deadline.
SDG outreach is in the focus of the UN’s agenda in Albania during 2017. In partnership with relevant stakeholders, the UN in Albania organised many events to draw attention to the SDGs and aid the movement of important issues forward. Examples include the Global Goals Week which brought together school children and youths from across the country, as well as local government, civil society and businesses to raise awareness, find solutions, build partnerships and drive concrete actions to achievement of SDGs in Albania. Partnership was established with two leading Albanian businesses—Telecom and Sophie Caffe to advocate among the public on the importance of Agenda 2030. Numerous awareness-raising and advocacy activities were organised with young people across the country, with engagement of students from university and high school, innovation boot camps and hackathons focused on SDGs. The Albanian Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) network—Tirana Chamber of Commerce, CSOs, Parliament and academia—has been an important target group whose involvement in SDG outreach efforts has proven critical to shaping and communicating its varied roles in achieving SDGs in Albania, as well as driving forward SDG-focused strategies, goals and activities.
With SDG5, Agenda 2030 represents a major step forward in terms of the global commitment to gender equality, and—just as importantly—gender equality will be necessary to reach all the SDGs. Gender statistics are essential for monitoring achievement of the goals, especially the need to ensure no one is left behind. INSTAT has mapped existing data to SDG reporting requirements, showing that just over one-third (38%) of the indicators are currently available. The remaining indicators require the introduction of new collection activities, new technologies and improved statistical methodologies for them to be produced. SDGs represent an important opportunity to build on earlier investment in gender statistics, mainly supported by the UN in Albania, and make rapid progress with innovative approaches. The new set of gender indicators in the National Statistical Programme 2016–2021 can be used for monitoring the SDGs.
With this foundation in place on SDG achievement, action needs to be accelerated if targets are to be achieved in the remaining thirteen years. These include creating a team of SDG champions across the restructured line ministries, the finalisation of the SDG national action plan, the setting of nationalised targets and indicators, and the commencement of monitoring and reporting. These steps are necessary if institutions are to be held accountable and, more importantly, programmes and resources can be adjusted as necessary. All steps will require substantial capacity building at central and local levels to ensure compliance with European and other international standards.
In line with these challenges, UN Albania’s focus in 2018 will be to support the Prime Minister’s Office in its delivery of the national report to the UN High Level Political Forum (July 2018) and its leadership on SDGs more generally. A multi-agency UN MAPS mission will be organised, to make recommendations on acceleration platforms for SDGs. The UN will build capacities of INSTAT and line ministries, support the analysis of the national budget against the SDGs, as well as continue to undertake SDG awareness raising. It will work closely with Parliament to help with monitoring, resource allocation and public engagement. Means to finance actions in priorities areas will be sought through partnership building and the establishment of the SDG Acceleration Fund. Support to EU integration structures on the negotiation process will be provided, aiming to insert the SDGs into the working agenda of those structures.
Agenda 2030 and the SDGs are at the centre of communications . By communicating as One, UN works to bring together a diverse array of partners to transmit the message of the SDGs, spur actions in support of these Goals, build new partnerships and involve people to act for themselves locally, in their daily lives.
Partnership with Youth Voice, a network of 20 youth CSOs, played a significant role to bring SDGs closer to youth and raise awareness about this transformative agenda that can change Albania and the world.
SDG Week helped generate further awareness around Agenda 2030. Placing a focus on youth, activities of the week included an SDG Hackathon in Tirana where 30 students came together to design six quick win solutions to benefit Tirana citizens.
Being mindful of the fact that localisation is important in allowing people around the country to take ownership of their development agenda and local media to monitor progress, UN organised an SDG Day—Elbasan 2030—bringing together some 100 stakeholders, including the mayor, councillors, civil society and media, to discuss how to localise the SDGs. Thirty-five students participated in a Hackathon in Elbasan, coming up with innovative proposals to advance some of the SDGs in their city and neighbourhoods, while some 150 schoolchildren were introduced to the SDGs through the World’s Largest Lessons.
Agenda 2030 is a transformative agenda that promises to leave No One Behind, but the goals will not be achieved without meaningful actions by the private sector. UN advocacy in 2017 aimed to convey the message that the SDGs represent a historic opportunity for business, as it can use the goals as an overarching framework to shape and communicate their strategies, goals and activities.
Ground-breaking partnerships with the private sector were established.
The United Nations in Albania established a partnership with the Millennium Cinemas Networks and CINEPLEXX to raise awareness and promote the Sustainable Development Goals in Albania. Millennium Cinemas Network and CINEPLEXX aired a spot featuring well-known actors, singers, sportsmen, world personalities from science, technology ,philanthropist, innovators, who talk about the Goals and call on people to play their part and be the first generation to end extreme poverty, fix climate change and reduce inequalities. The spot ran ahead of each and every movie screened during a period of one week.
Sophie Caffe, a chain of well-known coffee shops, with its 13 units and approximately 10.000 consumers daily, joined today the UN-Albania campaign to spread awareness and promote support for the Sustainable Development Goals known in Albania.
“Happy Tickets” or messages that accompany coffee servings, are the most successful forms of marketing at Sophie Caffe. ‘The happy tickets” branded with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals were served to clients together with the coffee they order.
“Happy tickets” are simple messages and aim to make these goals known to the public.
Twenty-five public and private universities and faculties in Albania signed an agreement committing to play an active role to advance Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development. This commitment is a collective response to further the critical role that education can play in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. University research in strategic areas of development can help inform good policies and find sustainable social, economic, environmental and technical solutions to existing problems. Universities are best placed to pioneer innovation and set an example to other sectors and businesses. In signing the University Commitment to the SDGs, the universities pledge to promote the principles of the SDGs, utilize their research and education resources to advance the Global Goals, provide scientifically-sound advice to the National Committee on SDGs established early this year. Universities also commit to use the potential of data, through cooperation with INSTAT and other data generation sources to develop new analytical frameworks and tools to harness the complexity of the sustainable development agenda.
United Nations Agencies in Albania and Telekom Albania embarked on a partnership to drive actions towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in Albania. The UN and Telekom Albania work jointly to spread awareness and generate support about the Global Goals, while at the same time implementing concrete actions to make the Global Goals a reality. UN and Telekom are joining efforts to bring SDGs closer to students, teachers, businesses, to the academic world and to communities at large. The campaign aims to engage people to be part of the solution . A social media campaign about ten selected SDGs was implemented on Telekom and UN Albania social media platforms.
The highlight of the partnership was a night run in which some 400+ people joined the Tirana mayor, ambassadors and young people. Held under the motto Light Up the Future—Run for SDGs, the event, the first of its kind in the country, generated great interest about the Sustainable Development Goals.
United Nations Agencies in Albania and AGNA Group -embarked on a partnership to spread awareness and generate support to make the Global Goals a reality in Albania. UN and AGNA group will work to bring SDGs closer to every home through their water labelled “Spring” which is distributed widely all over Albania in supermarkets, institutions, private businesses. 20 Million water bottles have been redesigned with Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. The new Spring Etiquette branded with the SDG three icon calls on society at large to live healthy lives and promotes wellbeing for all. Information contained in the label takes the public to the UN-Albania website where those interested can learn more about the Global Goals. The campaign will run for a period of six months.