Arab Region Considers FfD, Data, Food Security and Nutrition
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The 24th meeting of the Regional Coordination Mechanism identified mobilizing necessary financial support to achieve the 2030 Agenda as a key priority for the Arab region.

On SDG data, participants reflected on opportunities to minimize “the burden on already over-stretched national statistical systems” through identifying core sets of data, establishing a data sharing platform and engaging in capacity development and technical cooperation.

Participants further reflected on efforts to advance SDG 2 (zero hunger).

22 October 2018: The 24th meeting of the UN’s Regional Coordination Mechanism held a special session on Financing for Development (FfD), in order to develop recommendations to respond to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and ongoing changes as a result of reforms to the UN development system. The meeting also addressed key achievements in the region related to the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development (AFSD), SDG data, food security and nutrition, and water.

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) organized the meeting in Cairo, Egypt, on 22 October 2018. Participants included representatives of UN entities in the Arab region, the League of Arab States and subsidiary bodies.

On FfD, participants identified mobilizing necessary financial support to achieve the 2030 Agenda as a key priority for the Arab region. ESCWA Executive Secretary Mohamed Ali Alhakim observed that the economic and financial outlook for the Arab region “remains turbulent,” and stressed that achieving the SDGs “will require a change of mindsets, approaches and accountabilities.” According to ESCWA, the region’s financial resources are “sufficient to meet the shortfall in funding development,” but these resources need to be more effectively channeled towards investment that contributes to growth in the region. The discussion highlighted opportunities to coordinate efforts in supporting countries to develop integrated financing frameworks and policy coordination and alignment with international financial institutions.

Participants in the 2018 meeting of the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development advocated for approaching the VNRs as “a process rather than a product.”

On the AFSD, a Taskforce on the process shared a progress report on 2018 achievements and key activities. The Taskforce reported that the 2018 AFSD had focused on voluntary national reviews (VNRs) and lessons learned from country experiences with aligning and integrating policies with the 2030 Agenda. The AFSD included special sessions on Arab regional priorities, including gender equality, water, energy, leave no one behind, the environment, youth, localizing the SDGs and the role of civil society. The Taskforce concluded that the 2018 AFSD consolidated the role and importance of the regional forum in mobilizing efforts to accelerate SDG implementation, particularly on key regional priorities and cross-border issues, and increased interest in follow-up and review processes. Participants advocated for approaching the VNRs “as a process rather than a product.”

On SDG data, ESCWA and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) reported that participants emphasized the importance of minimizing “the burden on already over-stretched national statistical systems” through identifying core sets of data, establishing a data sharing platform and engaging in capacity development and technical cooperation. ESCWA and UNFPA will consolidate regional inputs into a draft regional strategy that takes into consideration regional data flows, data gaps, and the role of UN country teams in statistics and data.

On food security and nutrition, the Arab Region Working Group on Food Security and Nutrition reported on progress to advance SDG 2 (zero hunger). In 2018, the Working Group organized a meeting with UN agencies in the region on collaboration with the League of Arab States in support of SDG 2 in the region. Other activities included a report on progress towards SDG 2 in the region, a regional dialogue on food security and nutrition, and development of a joint conceptual framework for operationalizing SDG 2 in fragile and protracted crisis contexts, developed with Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). In 2019, the Working Group plans to publish the First Arab Report on the Status of SDG 2 in the Arab region, enhance national capacities in data collection analysis and reporting, and build capacities of small-scale farmers and climate action plans and strategies within the context of SDG 2, among other activities.

On water, the Working Group on Water plans to identify proposed areas for joint cooperation on the SDGs identified as focus areas in 2019: SDG 4 (quality education); SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth); SDG 10 (reduced inequalities); SDG 13 (climate action); SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions); and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The meeting also discussed migration and the role of UN Country Teams. [ESCWA Press Release] [Taskforce on AFSD Report] [Taskforce on SDG Data Report] [Taskforce on SDG 2] [Working Group on Water Report]

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