Trade unions open the doors to dialogue on SDG between the government and civil society in Benin

Benin is a developing country with a socioeconomic environment marked by a high rate of poverty, the preponderance of the informal economy, and the absence of universal health cover, etc. In other words, Benin is a country with a strong interest in working towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the inconclusiveness of the implementation of the MDGs, civil society organisations decided not to stay on the margins of the SDG experience.

By Ansèlme Amoussou, Secretary General of CSA Benin

It is well-established that one of the factors contributing to the lack of success in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was the inadequacy of the participatory approach taken in many developing countries. Such an approach was essential to Benin in particular, where the poverty rate is as high as 40%.

To achieve the core aim of the SDGs, which is to “leave no one behind”, trade union organisations and civil society in general decided to take part in the mechanism for monitoring SDG implementation. Under pressure from trade union organisations, the ministry in charge of implementing the SDGs finally put dialogue at the centre of the SDG implementation process by establishing an SDG monitoring framework in Benin.

The independent trade union confederation CSA-Benin welcomes this opportunity to take part in every stage of SDG implementation along with other civil society organisations (more than ten in total).

Since December 2017, the social partners have therefore been involved in:

  • Assessing the implementation of the MDGs;
  • Taking ownership of the content of the SDGs;
  • Prioritising the SDG targets;
  • The campaign to raise awareness about the SDGs in the regions;
  • Ensuring the SDGs are integrated and budgeted for within policy and planning frameworks such as the National Development Plan.

This involvement drew the trade unions’ attention to the pressing need for capacity building to be able to influence the strategic choices regarding SDG implementation. As a result, union organisations have now incorporated the SDGs as one of the major themes of the training programmes for their members.

In addition, to ensure greater effectiveness, the unions are part of the platform of Beninese civil society organisations for the monitoring of SDG implementation. This platform works with the support of the UNDP, UNICEF and GIZ on the alternative or parallel reports covering four thematic areas: social policy, the economy, environment and institutions.

CSA-Benin also chairs the working group on institutions, which deals with issues linked to SDG 16. The members of the platform have taken part in several capacity building and self-assessment workshops.

CSA-Benin has also held training seminars for its members on the SDGs, with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation (FES), and regularly holds public meetings to report on the stages covered in the implementation of the SDGs.

To conclude, there has been an improvement in civil society participation in SDG implementation. Efforts still, however, have to be made to achieve better results. Access to reliable information and data from the administration is difficult at times. The matter of funding the SDGs is still an issue. The next challenge is to ensure specific budgeting and the implementation of the National Development Plan.