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UN Rep enjoins UB to champion SDGs in Botswana

UN Rep enjoins UB to champion SDGs in Botswana

Dated : 10.05.2017

The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator who is also the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident representative in Botswana, Mrs Jacinta Barrins, has appealed to the University of Botswana to take a leading research role during implementation and monitoring of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Botswana.

Mrs Barrins made the plea during a meeting with the Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Kgomotso Moahi, at UB on May 8, 2017 to discuss areas of common interests in an effort to achieve SDGs.
The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
Mrs Barrins said there were 17 such goals which the University of Botswana was requested to have a stake in their realisation, especially through research, student involvement and community engagement. In addition, she said the University should make its voice heard by having a representative in the local SDG committee. 
“You can identify which goals or targets that you can take part in and look for opportunities and how to get other people more involved in the implementation of the SDGs,” noted Mrs Barrins. The UN representative said one way of getting students involved was to establish clubs that could champion SDGs in various disciplines or establish an annual competition for a UN Debating Cup which the University could organise and host with other universities in the country and region.
Mrs Barrins also advised the University to expand its involvement in the implementation of the SDGs not only regionally but globally as well. She added that the University could also introduce what she called a “community knowledge initiative” or work-based experience whereby students earned credits for doing community work linked to SDGs.
In response, Professor Moahi acknowledged the importance of UB becoming a champion of SDGs in Botswana as well as expanding its research programme globally given that “as UB we have to make our presence felt in terms of implementing SDGs”.
“I also like the idea of involving students along with public lectures as a good start,” said the Acting Vice Chancellor, adding that the only undoing in the university’s efforts to implement the SDGs was lack of coordination.
The Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Julius Atlhopheng, enumerated a number of areas the University was involved in at national, regional and global levels. Professor Atlhopheng also disclosed that there was a proposal to have MSc courses which were SDG aligned. Other areas that UB was involved in that were aligned to SDGs include research in water, tourism and climate change, he said.
However, he regretted that while UB was doing a lot on SDGs the downside was lack of coordination of their work and that reaching out to the ordinary Motswana was also a challenge.
The Deputy Vice Chancellor Student Affairs, Professor Martin Mokgwathi, also welcomed the idea of a debating cup, saying UB had a strong debating culture given the numerous debating championships it has held. The Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Acting DVC or Academic Affairs, Professor David Sebudubudu, also acknowledged the lack of coordinated efforts in implementing SDGs but assured the UN representative that UB was endowed with a lot of expertise and resources save for funding.
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