ESCWA Annual Report 2017 Showcases SDG Implementation in Arab Region
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The 2017 Annual Report builds around three pillars of action: inclusive development, regional integration, and good governance and resilience.

The ‘Arab Multidimensional Poverty Report’ provides a technical analysis of poverty in various Arab countries and areas, as well as recommendations to accelerate efforts towards realizing SDG 1 (no poverty).

The Arab Forum for Sustainable Development discussed experiences in aligning the work of institutions and development plans with the SDGs, and examined Arab countries’ VNRs to help assess progress and accelerate SDG implementation.

ESCWA produced a harmonized consumer price index and annual purchasing power parities to help determine the size of economies in the Arab region to enhance comparability of regional, subregional and national inflation.

August 2017: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) published its 2017 Annual Report, which provides an overview of economic and social developments in the Arab region, ESCWA’s strategy and programme of work, and progress in SDG implementation in the region. The report highlights 2017 events, publications and initiatives as they relate to SDG furtherance.

The report builds around three pillars of action: inclusive development, including social justice, knowledge economy and employment, and sustainable natural resources; regional integration, including policy coherence, and agreements and strategies; and good governance and resilience, with a focus on institutional development, participation and citizenship, and resilience to crises and occupation.

Regarding inclusive development and social justice, ESCWA, in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the League of Arab States (LAS) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative, produced the ‘Arab Multidimensional Poverty Report,’ which provides a technical analysis of poverty in various Arab countries and areas, as well as recommendations to accelerate efforts towards realizing SDG 1 (no poverty).

On knowledge economy and employment, ESCWA convened an expert group meeting on innovation and technology for achieving the 2030 Development Agenda in December 2017, which discussed innovative methods to harness technology to transform global and regional challenges into opportunities and work towards the SDGs in an integrated manner.

A prototype for SDG simulation helps governments achieve a balance between potentially conflicting SDGs and an optimal combination of targets.

Regarding sustainable natural resources, a High-level Conference on Climate Change Assessment and Adaptation in the Arab Region, convened in September 2017, saw the launch of the ‘Arab Climate Change Assessment Report.’

ESCWA also convened a regional capacity-building workshop themed, ‘Water-Energy Nexus Operational Toolkit: Resource Efficiency,’ in Manama, Bahrain, in February 2017, which aimed to strengthen the capacity of countries in the region to mainstream energy-related SDGs into their national development plans. Participants discussed improving efficiency during the production and consumption of water and energy resources and services, processes in sewage treatment plants and financial considerations.

The report also notes progress made on the the MDG+ Initiative, or the Regional Initiative for Establishing a Regional Mechanism for Improved Monitoring and Reporting on Access to Water Supply and Sanitation Services in the Arab Region, an initiative of ESCWA, the Government of Sweden and the Arab Countries Water Utilities Association (ACWUA), among others. The initiative provides information on access to water services based on regionally-approved indicators, a harmonized methodology, and data collected and vetted by national monitoring teams, all of which will help monitor water-related SDGs and targets.

On regional integration and policy coherence, ESCWA published a report titled, ‘Rethinking Fiscal Policy in the Arab Region,’ which examines alignment of member States’ current fiscal policies with the SDGs, and identifies necessary adjustments in economic reform, social investments and governance to advance structural transformation and sustainable development.

ESCWA produced a harmonized consumer price index and annual purchasing power parities to help determine the size of economies in the Arab region to enhance comparability of regional, subregional and national inflation. Such indicators help, inter alia: measure and alleviate poverty; encourage economic cooperation between member States; and monitor progress in SDG implementation. The Commission also developed a prototype for SDG simulation to help governments achieve a balance between potentially conflicting SDGs and an optimal combination of targets.

In relation to agreements and strategies, ESCWA convened the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development in Rabat, Morocco, in May 2017, in cooperation with LAS and others. The Forum developed regional consensus on priorities under the theme of the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), ‘Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World.’ Participants discussed experiences in aligning the work of institutions and development plans with the SDGs, and examined Arab countries’ voluntary national reviews (VNRs) to help assess progress and accelerate SDG implementation.

On good governance and resilience and institutional development, an expert group meeting on State building and institutional development in post-conflict settings convened in May 2017. It looked at possible scenarios in Libya and Yemen, and addressed post-conflict reconstruction phases within the framework of SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), with discussions focusing on institutional accountability, inclusiveness and cohesion, good governance and access to justice.

Related to resilience to crises and occupation, ESCWA developed the Arab Financing for Development Scorecard to monitor implementation and progress of financing for development (FfD) outcomes. The scorecard assesses direct and indirect cross-border resources and financing available to the Arab region to determine the effects of financing decisions on SDG implementation. The scorecard shows that financial inflows to the Arab region have decreased in comparison with outward flows, and estimates that, by 2030, 92 million new job opportunities will need to be created for Arab youth. [Publication: ESCWA Annual Report 2017] [Annual Report Landing Page]


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