Remarks by Dr. Coumba Mar Gadio, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia on the launch of the Zambia 2020 Voluntary Review Report

The Agenda 2030 is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom.

  • Honorable Minister of National Development Planning, Mr. Alexander Chiteme;
  • Honourable Members of the National Assembly;
  • The Permanent Secretary, National Development Planning and Administration, Ministry of National Development Planning, Mr. Chola Chabala;
  • The Permanent Secretary, Development Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of National Development Planning, Mr. Danies Chisenda;
  • Distinguished officials of the Government of the Republic of Zambia;
  • Distinguished members of the National Development Planning Committee;
  • Excellencies, Ambassadors, and High Commissioners;
  • Heads of Cooperation and Development Partners;
  • The Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme;
  • Representatives from the UN System in Zambia;
  • Members of the civil society and the media fraternity;
  • Distinguished Guests;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.


   I am honoured to represent the United Nations Development System in Zambia at this important event on the Launch of Zambia’s Voluntary National Review or VNR Report on the Implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

 As an active partner of the Government and the People of the Republic of Zambia, the UN in Zambia is pleased to support the Government on the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to ensure that No One is Left Behind. Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Government of Zambia’s continued commitment and efforts towards attainment of the SDGs as envisioned in the country’s Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).

Honorable Minister, the Agenda 2030 is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom. It recognises that eradication of poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnership, are called upon to implement the Agenda 2030 at the center of which are the 17 SDGs.

The SDGs remain relevant and demonstrate the scale and ambition of this universal Agenda. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. SDGs are integrated and indivisible, and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental.

This year, the Government successfully presented its first VNR at the 2020 High Level Political Forum. Zambia’s VNR showcases the country’s path in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. Zambia has adequately mainstreamed SDGs (86%) into the 7NDP. Therefore, Zambia is implementing and reporting on the SDGs together with other national programmes in the Plan using the 7NDP institutional arrangements;

the National Development Coordinating Committee, Provincial Development Coordinating Committee, District, and Ward Development Coordinating Committee.

I am happy to note that Zambia’s first VNR is an outcome of participatory and inclusive consultations based on a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches. It has drawn from line ministries and local authorities and widely engaged cooperating partners, academia, youths, private sector, and civil society organisations, including representatives of vulnerable groups; in the spirit of living no one behind. Highlights form Zambia’s VNR include:

  • Stronger and integrated SDG compliant national development framework: Zambia’s current National Development Plan departed from a sectoral, silo-based approach to an integrated approach, which entails adoption of timely, strategic, targeted, and simultaneous investments by various sectors towards the achievement of the SDGs;
  • Zambia has undergone considerable infrastructure investments, which forms the basis to unlock sustainable development throughout the country. Key results include improvements in social sectors, particularly health, social protection, water and sanitation;
  • The VNR shows Zambia’s commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Between the period 2015 to 2019 there has been an estimated 39 % reduction in emissions of the total target of 38,000 gigagrams Carbon dioxide equivalent. Zambia is promoting sustainable initiatives such as renewable energy, climate smart agriculture, alternative livelihoods, water harvesting techniques and green infrastructure;
  • Gender and women empowerment: Zambia has enacted the Gender Equity and Equality law, which provides for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Furthermore, six Anti-GBV and User-Friendly fast track courts have been established, and these contribute to the reduced lengthy trial time and trauma faced by victims of GBV in the justice process;
  • Effective patnerships are key to improved development outcomes: the multisectoral approach  has proven to be effective and provided best approaches to learn from. For instance, the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey shows improvements in key health outcomes. 

Maternal, infant, child mortality and poor nutrition status have all consistently showed a downward trend, demonstrating that through coordinated delivery of development interventions, it is possible to build and sustain gains towards the attainment of the SDGs.

I wish to note some of the challenges highlighted in the VNR, including areas where support is needed, namely:

  • Data limitations, including limited disaggregated data, continue to be a huge constraint on SDG monitoring, and for evidence-based planning;
  • Constrained fiscal space for SDGs financing, including addressing debt and debt servicing;
  • Dealing with adverse effects of climate change and crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic pose major threats to achieving the SDGs in Zambia.

In conclusion, Honorable Minister, I would like to thank Government for the successful delivery of yet another milestone in Zambia’s path towards the attainment of the SDGs.

I also want to encourage the wider development community to continue its support to Zambia’s development for it is only through working together that we can achieve more. I wish to reiterate the support of the entire UN Development System in the implementation of the SDGs in Zambia.

I thank you.

Speech by
Coumba Mar Gadio
Resident Coordinator
Coumba Mar Gadio, PhD
UN entities involved in this initiative
United Nations