#timefor8: Namibian trade unions strengthen their engagement on the Sustainable Development Goals

The Trade Union Congress of Namibia (TUCNA) sees its engagement on the 2030 Agenda as a key priority to put forward workers’ demands and recommendations for sustainable development of the country based on a new social contract centred on SDG 8.

Last November 2021, TUCNA organised a national workshop to promote a better understanding of the SDGs and establish spaces for engagement around them, such as the upcoming 6th National Development Plan. In addition, the event served the purpose of further enhancing the understanding and appreciation of the role of trade unions in UN development processes at the national level. During the three days that the event lasted, the different sessions involved the active participation of trade unionists, government officials from the Ministry of Labour, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the National Planning Commission (NPC), and the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Namibia.

This meeting was the result of a long and successful process through which TUCNA has actively searched to strengthen its capacity to influence key development processes, such as Namibia’s National Development Plans and the United Nations Development Cooperation Framework in order to ensure that trade unions’ demands and recommendations on SDG 8 and other key SDGs are consistently reflected in them.

The Voluntary National Reviews as an opportunity to engage

It all started in the context of the 2021 Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the implementation of the SDGs at the national level. The government of Namibia had volunteered to present its VNR to the HLPF on that year, and TUCNA, with the support of the TUDCN, saw this as an opportunity to strengthen its profile as a national development actor of reference.

In response to the government’s VNR, TUCNA produced a Trade Union SDG Country Profile for Namibia. The report presented in-depth monitoring and analysis of the government’s progress on the SDGs in Namibia and put forward key trade union recommendations to improve this process’ efficiency.

Furthermore, during the VNR session in the UN, TUCNA’s Secretary-General, Mahongora Kavihuha, took the floor on behalf of Namibia’s workers and civil society and addressed the Namibian government, urging it to put in place human–centred responses to the COVID-19 crisis with decent employment creation and redistributive policies.

Around that time, July 2021, TUCNA also addressed the UN Namibia Country Team and met with the Office of the Resident Coordinator and all the heads of agencies accredited to Namibia. At these engagements, Mr Kavihuha emphasised that TUCNA was seeking ways for trade unions to work together with UN agencies to address numerous developmental challenges facing the country and play a constructive role in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

As a result of TUCNA’s active interest and the role it played to ensure the inclusion of trade unions in the implementation of the SDGs process, TUCNA was invited to the Development Partner’s Forum in October 2021, chaired by the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the UN in Namibia, where it was one of the panellists for the section on the perspective from civil society on the implementation of the SDGs.

The event of last November was the latest but not the last step towards increasing TUCNA’s influence on the development processes that are impacting the everyday life of the people in Namibia. In 2022, TUCNA will seize the upcoming #timefor8 campaign to continue improving its collaboration with its counterparts and build on its previous achievements.