AU Summit Focuses on African Transformation, Coordination of Sustainable Development Agendas
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The 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union agreed to hold an Extraordinary Summit in March 2018 to consider legal instruments related to and sign an agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (CTFA).

The Assembly adopted a decision related to establishing a Single Market for Air Transport in Africa (SAATM) and recommendations related to scaling up climate finance.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the AU and the UN signed a framework agreement on the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, which aims to contribute to people-centered and planet-sensitive structural transformation in Africa.

28 January 2018: The 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) discussed progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU’s Agenda 2063. The Summit adopted decisions on transport, trade, the free movement of persons and accelerating gender equality. On the sidelines, a framework agreement was signed on coordination between the 2030 Agenda and the Agenda 2063.

Heads of State and Government from 55 AU member States participated in the meeting, which convened from 28-29 January 2018, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Summit focused on the theme, ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.’

In his opening remarks as AU Chairperson, Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, said the defining challenge for Africa is “to create a pathway for prosperity for our people, especially our young people.” Observing that Africa’s transformation window is narrowing, he called for creating a single continental market, integrating African infrastructure and infusing Africa’s economies with technology. Kagame stressed that action on the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the free movement of persons will “send a tremendous signal…that it is no longer business as usual.”

In his opening remarks, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the partnership between Africa and the UN as “grounded on sound principles of human rights and good governance.” He identified five keys areas for strengthening the UN-AU partnership: combatting corruption; cooperating in peace and security; promoting inclusive and sustainable development; tackling climate change; and addressing international migration. Guterres emphasized the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration for all countries as a collective priority for 2018. Guterres welcomed the designation of 2018 as the African Anti-Corruption Year, observing that tackling corruption, illicit financial flows, and tax evasion will require “an unimpeachable commitment” to accountability and transparency.

The AU emphasized that the SAATM is “vital” to achieving Africa’s vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa in line with Agenda 2063.

The AU adopted a decision related to establishing a Single Market for Air Transport in Africa (SAATM), emphasizing that it is “vital” to achieving Africa’s vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa in line with Agenda 2063. The SAATM seeks to bring about enhanced connectivity across the continent to promote sustainable development of the aviation and tourism industry, and contribute to economic growth, job creation, prosperity, and African integration.

The Assembly agreed to hold an Extraordinary Summit in March 2018 to consider legal instruments related to and sign an agreement on the CFTA. On free movement throughout Africa, the Assembly adopted a protocol to the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community relating to Free Movement of Persons, Rights of Residence and Right of Establishment and its Draft Implementation Roadmap. On implementation of the declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, the Assembly called for member States to implement gender equality commitments and for the AU Commission (AUC) to accelerate alignment of its policies, programmes, and reporting tools for gender equality with Agenda 2063.

On the sidelines of the Summit, Guterres and AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat signed the framework agreement on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the AU’s Agenda 2063, which envisions stronger coordination between the AU and UN to ensure the two Agendas are mainstreamed and integrated into national planning frameworks. The framework aims to contribute to people-centered and planet-sensitive structural transformation in Africa, emphasizes the nexus among peace, security and development in implementing the two Agendas, and seeks to promote a harmonized approach to the two Agendas to minimize duplication, optimize domestic resource mobilization, and strengthen partnerships.

At the signing ceremony, Guterres stressed that the international community cannot succeed in development “if Africa does not succeed in its development,” including by harnessing its youth dividend. Guterres observed that, although poverty elimination is a shared priority across the two Agendas, significant gaps persist between the Agendas, particularly on the environment, energy, water, industrialization, and infrastructure. Mahamat and Guterres are expected to discuss and agree on an action plan to operationalize the Framework during the Second Annual AU-UN Conference in April 2018.

A high-level event on ‘Renewed Partnership to End Hunger in Africa by 2025– Five Years Later: Taking Stock of Progress and Lessons in Light of the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) recognized the role of sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth in achieving SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 2 (zero hunger). Guterres underlined the links among poverty, hunger and food insecurity and the interlinkages among climatic shocks, environmental degradation, crop and livestock prices, and conflict, calling for national agricultural policies that focus on poverty, hunger, and resilience to climate change. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva called for deepening and broadening hunger-fighting initiatives “to put the continent back on track” to address undernutrition. He stressed that “achieving zero hunger in our lifetime is still possible” with political commitments and timely, concrete actions. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn shared his country’s progress in tackling hunger through “indigenous approaches” and increasing the country’s domestic purchasing power. Participants further discussed the role of gender equality and social protection in accelerating progress on food security and nutrition. Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and the AUC organized the event with support from FAO and the ECA.

A special meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council discussed cooperative approaches to tackling terrorism and other peace and security concerns. In April 2017, the AU and UN signed the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. Guterres proposed strengthening this Framework through a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines a roadmap for capacity building support and future collaboration within the context of the Framework.

Also during the Summit, Mahamat announced that he will appoint a Special Envoy for youth. On climate change, the Assembly praised the members of the Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) for their guidance towards Africa’s solidarity and pan-Africanism at global climate change negotiations and made a number of recommendations related to scaling up climate finance. [AU Summit Website] [AU Press Release on Outcomes] [AU Chairperson Opening Remarks] [UN Press Release on UN Secretary-General Opening Statement] [UN Secretary-General Opening Statement] [AUC Chairperson Remarks] [UN Press Release on Framework Agreement] [UNECA Press Release on Framework Agreement] [UN Secretary-General’s Statement at High-Level Event on Hunger] [UNECA Press Release on High-Level Event on Hunger] [FAO Press Release] [UN Press Release on Peace and Security Council]

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