During the last day of the 2022 session of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Mr. Tasong Njukang Paul, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Economy Planning and Regional Development in charge of Planning, Cameroon, presented the country’s second Voluntary National Review (VNR) This article will detail the main messages from the review as outlined to the UN On the 15th of July. The review explains the efforts made by the Cameroonian government in advancing SDGs in the country despite setback.
The country is currently weathering some difficult national situations, but Cameroon continues to implement the 2030 Agenda, which was incorporated into the development of its National Development Strategy 2020-2030. Despite the results, the government intends to promote sustainable and inclusive development based on quality human capital.
Cameroonian government presented its second Voluntary National Report (VNR 2022), using a participatory and inclusive approach, as part of the regular monitoring of progress toward achieving the targets of the 2030 Agenda. This report examines the factors that contribute to positive trends and those that impede dynamics in various sectors following the COVID-19 pandemic.
In terms of education, In addition to the qualitative and quantitative inadequacy of infrastructure and teachers, which are both higher than the Sub-Saharan African average, COVID-19 has had a strong influence on education policy, leading to the temporary closure of schools and the suspension of face-to-face lessons. To address this, an integrated national distance learning system has been established, utilizing the media, the Internet, and educational materials distribution. Face-to-face lessons resumed before the start of the official exams, thanks to special budgetary allocations for the sector and barrier measures implemented by the government. However, due to their vulnerability and difficulties in accessing ICT, these adaptation measures have not benefited all learners.
Gender-based violence has increased since the onset of COVID-19 and related psychosocial shocks in terms of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Domestic violence affected nearly 62% of women and girls in 2020, and 56% had limited access to livelihoods. Furthermore, price increases in basic necessities had a negative impact on the shopping basket. The government has taken mitigation measures, including the implementation of projects aimed at increasing the empowerment of women and girls.
Concerning the oceans and seas, the government’s environmental policing and the limitation of maritime activities as a result of COVID-19 have allowed for the reduction of marine pollution, particularly of land-based origin. Actions to combat the use of non-compliant plastics have thus reduced the density of debris at sea as well as nutrient pollution in the sea. Similarly, the production and transplantation of mangrove seedlings, mangrove restoration, and cleaning of bodies of water infested with water hyacinth have all contributed to the restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems.
In terms of terrestrial ecosystem preservation and restoration, progress is reflected in an increase in developed forest areas and protected areas, as well as the incorporation of ecosystem and biodiversity protection into national development frameworks. However, the decrease in human activity caused by COVID-19 has created more space for wildlife, increasing the risk of species interactions and, as a result, the emergence of other zoonotic diseases.
In terms of resource mobilization and collaboration, state budget revenue increased from 2015 to 2021, owing mainly to the strong performance of tax revenue, the share of which in budget revenue increased from 55% in 2016 to 79% in 2021 as a result of ambitious tax reforms. Similarly, ODA flows to Cameroon have increased, particularly in light of the implementation of the COVID-19 response plan. The volume of FDI, on the other hand, decreased as a result of the pandemic and security disruptions in certain regions of the country.
Despite the measures taken by the government, several challenges remain that Cameroon is determined to address, including:
- the establishment of a strategic watch system and adaptation and response mechanisms to shocks and changes;
- the creation of human capital capable of sustaining economic development ambitions;
- Exploiting new financial niches in the economy;
- Support for the mechanism for monitoring SDG implementation.
The hope is that the various measures being applied to address these challenges will be successful and the country can focus fully on progressing the development goals to meet the 2030 agenda.