27 January 2017

Developing an indicator for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Last year the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) came into effect after they were adopted by various Heads of State, a year before in 2015. The SDG's build on the widely successful Millennium Development Goals exceptthat the SDG's are unique in that they envisage a collective effort by all members of society to achieve them. Amongst the SDG's is SDG 16.10 which includes a commitment to freedom of information and the protection of fundamental rights. Extending the boundaries of freedom of information in South Africa is an integral part of SAHA's work. Whilst many of the SDG's already have set indicators used to measure progress, there has been little consensus on how to accurately and efficiently measure the attainment of freedom of information. The only indicator that has received consideration at this point in time is the monitoring of the implementation of access to information laws in member states. Despite access to information being critical to realising enabling conditions for the implementation of all of the 17 SDG, there has not been a final consensus on the type of indicators to be used in measuring the right of access to information.

SAHA is a member ofAfrica Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), who is likely to spearhead the engagement with the UN, on behalf of African civil society. The full extent of their engagement is unknown at this early time in the year. What SAHA does know is that UNESCO has indicated that should they have the 2016 version of AFIC's annual "State of the Right to Information in Africa Report" by the end of June, UNESCO will work to ensure that it is part of the UN Secretary General's report to the General Assembly in September 2017. This is one area that SAHA feels it could provide valuable input, given its unique position in the South African access to information space. Pending an acceptance of SAHA's input it is expected that this could make for an exciting project to be involved in as its legacy could impact access to information for the next 15 years.