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Jamaica And The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

By Manal Rajan

In October 2016, the Jamaican Administration began the process of creating a roadmap to guide the implementation of the SDGs on the Island. Over the week of October 24-28, the government in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Mainstreaming Acceleration Policy Support (MAPS) Mission Team led a series of consultations with private sector, government institutions, and civil society organizations, to collectively assess the most pressing needs of the Jamaican people, obstacles to social, economic, and environmental prosperity on the Island, and solutions to overcoming them. I was fortunate enough to attend and contribute to the consultations representing Jamaica Family Planning Association (JFPA), a local NGO I have been working with since September 2016. So what are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? Officially known as Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SDGs are a set of 17 aspiring ‘Global Goals’ and 169 targets adopted on September 25th, 2015 in New York by 193 UN Member States. This new agenda, which is preceded by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aims to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. This mission’s aim is to operationalize these goals, as Mission Head Nik Sekhran explained, “We have really ambitious targets, we know where we want to be – now we have to figure out how to get there.”


The process was extensive, divided into 6 phases: Alignment, Coordination, Prioritizing Accelerators, Financing, Monitoring and Reporting, and Advocacy Action Campaign. This blog will discuss highlights of my experience during the series of consultations. The first step in the process for the MAPS team was to conduct a Rapid Integration Assessment. The purpose of this phase was to assess how closely the local planning documents align with the SDGs and to outline any gaps between the two. A total of 41 documents were assessed including Jamaica’s National Development Plan – Vision 2030. Overall, Jamaica’s vision aligned fairly well with the Global Goals, with the exception of the goals relating to the environment. Discussions in the room supported this finding as many reiterated the lack of respect for the environment among the general public. Actions such as the burning of garbage and littering of plastic packaging have been common sightings in my time in Jamaica thus far.


As one of my primary roles with JFPA is to conduct a Monitoring and Evaluation exercise to assess Quality of Care of our clinics, the Monitoring and Reporting phase was especially interesting to me. The consultation referred to it as the ‘data revolution’ whose management is especially important for the success of the SDGs. The collection of reliable data will be necessary to inform policies, monitor progress, and ensure accountability, participation, and empowerment. Jamaica is a member of the Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDG Indicators, which is in the process of finalizing the SDG Indicator Framework. In January 2016, the working group adopted 230 indicators organized into 3 tiers according to agreed upon methodologies and availability of data. This is an area in need of great focus by Jamaica. There are 224 indicators that apply to Jamaica. Of these 26.3% have produced data to measure progress. Data is available but not yet produced for 32.6% of indicators, and 41.1% of the indicators have no available data yet. A key area of focus in this endeavour is the disaggregation of data in order to ensure ‘no one is left behind’. The mission recommends “indicators should be disaggregated, where relevant, by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location, or other characteristics.” The most disadvantaged groups, which within JFPA’s work in sexual, and reproductive health (SRH) include women, adolescents, and the LGBTQ community must be recognized and mainstreamed into all stages of the program life cycle. This is a consideration that cannot follow a ‘one size fits all’ model, and must be individually crafted based on geographic location, culture, and regional realities.


These consultations were an important first step in the right direction towards a better Jamaica. Continued collaboration across the public, private, and non-profit sectors will be crucial to the success of these goals.

Manal Rajan is working as a Health Administrator intern with Jamaica Family Planning Association/FAMPLAN in St. Ann’s Parish, Jamaica.


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