Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The ESCWA Regional Forum on Sustainable Development and the LAS' Arab Sustainable Development Week focused on SDG implementation.

The ESCWA Forum took stock of the region’s progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda and shared experiences on how countries have aligned and integrated policies, measured progress and engaged stakeholders on the SDGs.

18 May 2017: Representatives of Arab governments and sustainable development stakeholders exchanged experiences and lessons learned on regional and national accomplishments in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, at two events in the Arab region. The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Regional Forum on Sustainable Development took stock of progress towards the 2030 Agenda and how countries have measured progress and engaged stakeholders. The Arab Sustainable Development Week, organized by the League of Arab States (LAS), also focused on implementation of the SDGs.

The ESCWA Forum focused on ‘Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing Arab region,’ in line with the theme of the 2017 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Participants discussed challenges to and opportunities for tackling poverty and achieving prosperity through the lens of economic growth and decent work, equality, justice and distribution as enablers for sustainable development. Participants further considered how conflict, instability and fragility in the region affect SDG implementation and achievement. The Forum’s findings and recommendations will be submitted to and presented at the HLPF in July 2017.

Arab Sustainable Development Week 2017 focused on a number of topics, including: climate change, resilience and disaster management; sustainable water management and the importance of transboundary water cooperation; the water-food-energy nexus; inclusive and sustainable industrialization and resilient infrastructure; promotion of peace, security and justice; and the role of science, technology and innovation (STI) in achieving the SDGs.

The impacts of climate change on water security could reduce the region’s GDP by 14% by 2050, according to the World Bank.

On water management, participants discussed the importance of water management for stability development, prosperity and stability in the region, underscoring the dynamics among water insecurity and fragility, conflict and violence. Hafez Ghanem, World Bank, explained that, in the absence of mitigation and adaptation strategies, the impacts of climate change on water scarcity “could lead to a 14% drop in the region’s GDP by 2050.” Abedssalam Ould Ahmed, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), highlighted the linkages between water scarcity, climate change and food security in the region. He called on countries to implement sustainable water management to achieve SDG 2 (zero hunger).

The World Bank and the League of Arab States celebrated a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between their organizations, which was signed in March 2017. The MoU focuses on a regional approach to achieving the SDGs, with a focus on water security and management of the region’s cross-border water resources.

The Regional Forum on Sustainable Development took place from 3-5 May 2017, in Rabat, Morocco. Arab Sustainable Development Week took place in Cairo, Egypt, from 14-18 May. [ESCWA Forum Website] [ESCWA Press Release on Forum Conclusion] [ESCWA Press Release on Forum Opening] [World Bank Press Release on Arab Sustainable Development Week] [Arab Sustainable Development Week Program]


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