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On 16 and 17 August, 2016, SDSN Sahel held its Regional Conference at the Training Centre for Development in Bamako, Mali. Government stakeholders from the network’s five member countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Senegal) gathered alongside representatives from member universities, as well as NGOs and the African Union. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development in Mali, Ms. Keita Aida M’Bo. She led two days of discussions focusing on the identification of practical solutions to support the localization and implementation of the SDGs in the Sahel.

The event provided participants with an opportunity for knowledge-sharing around the methods, policies and technologies that will improve sustainability in the Sahel and the measures that contribute to its success on a national level. Participants also discussed how to increase communication, cooperation and learning across the region.

Professor Ibrahim Bouna Niang, Director of SDSN Sahel, reminded participants of the network’s four principal activities: raising awareness of the SDGs among national and regional stakeholders, notably by participating in ‘localization’ and ‘prioritization’ activities; promoting ‘Solutions Initiatives’ for sustainable development in the region; helping governments to identify the challenges at local, national and regional levels; and developing long-term strategies for sustainability.

 “Our network is making some important steps in enabling SDG implementation in the Sahel, by advising the governments in Mali and Senegal, supporting the planning stages of national and local strategies, initiating innovative projects to operationalize the SDGs, as well as expanding the membership campaign,” Professor Niang added.

The conference received significant attention in the local media, including an interview of Professor Niang for a feature in the national evening news in Mali.