Voluntary sector should seize the opportunity to contribute to the SDGs – Salmon
Maxsalia Salmon, partnerships and development finance officer at the UN Multi-Country Office for Jamaica, The Bahamas, Bermuda, The Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands, says the voluntary sector has the opportunity to contribute to the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
“The first is as an advocate. Political advocacy is key. This involves holding government to account,” she said.
Salmon made the recommendation while addressing participants at the Council of Voluntary Social Services’ (CVSS)‘Skills on the Go’ session, which was held recently on the topic ‘What about the SDGs? Your Role in Ensuring a Sustainable Future’.
“The voluntary sector plays an important role in holding the government to account for its promises. So far, the sector has done this by closely following and participating in policy processes in relation to the SDGs through their advocacy activities. They have lobbied for the SDGs to be integrated into domestic and foreign policies,” she added.
The second opportunity, she cited, is for civil society organisations and non-governmental organisations, to consider implementing the programmatic component directly or through other implementing partners.
The graduate of the University of Birmingham said that knowledge-sharing is a critical role in the sector and calls on the sector to play the role of advisers as they possess a wealth of knowledge.
“Providing expertise and insights on potential policies and programmatic choices is important, especially if you have that ‘on the ground’ knowledge,” she said. She further explained that insider knowledge gives implementers an accurate picture as others often view the situation through a different lens.
She also proposed that the sector play the role of convener by communicating the SDGs to a broader audience and facilitate conversations between parties.
“I believe the voluntary sector can play an important role in disseminating information on the progress being made by governments and make policy processes more transparent. One of the objectives of public awareness is to encourage citizens to make their own contribution to SDGs,” she said, adding that CSOs can also integrate the SDGs into their own public awareness campaigns.
Shifting focus on the progress made by Jamaica as it relates to the SDG’s implementation, Salmon said the country is on track in maintaining SDGs achievements in gender equality (SDG 5) and decent work and economic growth (SDG 8).
“What is concerning is where we are seeing decreasing progress as it relates to poverty and unfortunately quality education and I’m thinking that this has been definitely been as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects thereof,” she said.
Salmon noted that there was decreasing progress as it relates to life on land (SDG15). There are, however, moderate improvements in terms of partnership, clean water and sanitation as well as affordable and clean energy.
The next ‘Skills on the Go’ session will be held on June 7 when Rose Miller, grants manager at the JN Foundation, will speak on financial literacy.