Lusaka, 7 August 2019

It is an honour to join you for the launch of the SDG Centre’s Sub-Regional Centre for Southern Africa.

It is also a great pleasure to be back in Lusaka.

Today is a happy occasion. This is the first Sub-Regional Centre to open its doors.

The reason is very simple: The leadership and commitment of President Lungu and the Government of Zambia.

Speaking on behalf of the SDG Centre for Africa board, I wish to express our gratitude for the speed with which Zambia followed through on its pledges.

We also appreciate the outstanding quality of the facilities that have been provided. This centre has all the conditions needed to succeed in its mission.

The importance of that mission is clear. The Sustainable Development Goals, just like the African Union’s Agenda 2063, are detailed blueprints for delivering our people the future they deserve.

That requires good policy-making, as well as reliable national data systems to track progress toward the targets.

The role of the SDG Centre for Africa is to support governments in this endeavour, especially by providing technical advice on upgrading statistical capacity. The Centre can also provide relevant policy research and analysis tailored to the circumstances of each country.

It is up to us, in government, the private sector and in civil society, to make the most of this resource. Time is of the essence. 2030 is only a decade away, and our continent is not on track to meet the targets.

This is an agenda that is meaningful for us in Africa. So  really we do all these things for ourselves.

The ambitious goals represent real, tangible progress in the well-being of our people. Namely, improvements to health, economic opportunity, gender parity, and environmental protection, to name just a few. Things that anyone can see and feel in their own lives, is what is represented in the SDGs, and therefore the Centre and the sub-centres will be championing that.

Next month, at the United Nations General Assembly, we will participate in the SDG Summit. This is a high-level political forum to assess progress to date, and renew the global determination to do what it takes to achieve the goals.

Importantly, the United Nations and the African Union are going to be working even more closely together.

The launch of this Sub-Regional Centre is therefore very timely, and I hope other regions of our continent will follow suit. Indeed, Liberia has already committed to host the West Africa centre.

Let me conclude by wishing you productive deliberations during this meeting. And I close, once again, with warm congratulations and thanks to our brother and friend, President Lungu, for giving this institution a home here in Zambia.

Thank you for your kind attention.