The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have moved us from a focus on single goals, to a wide range of integrated development targets. To address these development targets, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) created the ‘accelerator’ approach. Accelerators are defined as services, provisions or policies that lead to progress across multiple SDGs and dimensions of development. But the approach had yet to be empirically tested. In 2019, the Accelerate Hub’s initial analysis of accelerators was the first study to do this. Going a step further, Accelerate Hub is identifying combinations of accelerators that can have collateral impacts: ‘accelerator synergies’.
Accelerate Hub is led by an interdisciplinary team at Oxford University and the University of Cape Town (UCT), with worldwide partners. Researchers from UCT’s Centre for Social Science Research and Oxford’s departments of Social Policy and Intervention, Tropical Medicine, the Blavatnik School of Government, English, Economics and Psychiatry work alongside international partners including UNDP, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation, governments across Africa, donors such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR, NGOs and adolescents themselves, to identify and test a range of ‘accelerator synergy’ service combinations, from across health, education, social and economic sectors. In doing so, they will determine which combinations, such as malaria prevention, business skills and violence prevention, offer adolescents across Africa the best opportunities to lead better, safer lives. These packages will specifically address UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
African governments need to address integrated development targets within limited resources. Accelerate Hub generates evidence to provide senior African and international policy-makers with the evidence they need to choose the programmes that work, are cost-effective and scalable; and it will also work with practitioners to provide them with free, effective training and programmes. There’s specific focus on:
- What can boost multiple SDGs for adolescents?
- Are identified solutions cost-effective?
- Do adolescents want to use them?
- Can they be delivered at scale?
At Accelerate Hub we do research differently: we work across disciplines and beyond single aims. Our common goal is to reach the potential of Africa’s adolescents as a ‘major demographic dividend’ (African Union, 2017).
"We have been lucky to work for many years with governments across Africa, UN agencies and donors. They want to help their adolescents to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, but this is a major challenge with fiscal resources and shrinking global aid. This Hub aims to meet their needs: to identify what simple combinations of services are cost-effective to improve health, education, employment and safety. Africa's adolescents deserve the best evidence and the best opportunities." - Professor Lucie Cluver, Accelerate Hub co-lead, at the project's launch.