A dialogue between the UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee and the UN Regional Commissions reviewed efforts made in the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation.
The Second Committee Chair said the Commissions have both “explicit and implicit” mandates to: assist Member States in integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development; provide technical support for SDGs implementation through leveraging means of implementation; and facilitate follow-up and review.
On a question about intergovernmental discussions on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR), which is expected to help align the UN development system with the 2030 Agenda, Akhtar noted that the UNGA resolution should propose that the Commissions become a primary and integral part of the development agenda, and are adequately funded.
28 October 2016: Governments and representatives of the UN Regional Commissions discussed the Commissions’ role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and reviewed efforts made in the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation, during a dialogue with the UN General Assembly’s (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial).
Participants said the Regional Commissions’ importance stems from their outreach and convening power, intergovernmental nature, broad-based cross-sectoral mandate, and experience in catalyzing consensus on intergovernmental agreements. The discussion, titled ‘One Year of SDGs: Where the Regions Are,’ took place on 28 October 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, US.
Opening the meeting, Dian Triansyah Djani, Second Committee Chair (Indonesia), noted both the “explicit and implicit” mandates of the Commissions to: assist Member States in integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development; provide technical support for SDG implementation through leveraging means of implementation (MOI); and facilitate follow-up and review.
Asia and the Pacific have data for only about half of the global SDG indicators.
Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), noted that the region has data for only about half of the global SDG indicators. She said SDG investment needs in ESCAP’s developing countries range from 5-10% of gross domestic product (GDP), and recalled that the Asia-Pacific Financing for Development Forum underscored the need to: tap into the region’s tax potential; promote financial inclusion; strengthen public expenditure management; and foster public-private infrastructure financing. Akhtar highlighted ESCAP’s “enhanced conference structure,” which now includes finance, science, technology, innovation and energy, and that it sponsors “knowledge networks” with regional trade, academic, research and private institutions to promote trade research.
Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), said the region has significant data challenges left from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ECE hosted a conference of European statisticians that assessed countries’ readiness to report on SDG indicators; identified regional indicators; and provided guidance on national and subnational indicators. He added that, for implementing the SDGs, ECE is: building on existing policy frameworks; reviewing existing strategies in light of the SDGs; and focusing on advocacy, raising awareness, and involving all relevant stakeholders.
Khawla Mattar, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said the region’s ability to implement the 2030 Agenda is affected by intensifying conflicts and crises, foreign occupation, the increased flow of refugees, and high unemployment and marginalization. She explained that ESCWA is: supporting countries to incorporate the SDGs into national development plans and frameworks; identifying challenges that can be tackled through regional cooperation; and working to strengthen statistical systems and the quality of data.
Abdalla Hamdok, Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said the region’s growth has had limited impact on poverty and unemployment, in many cases leading to increasing inequality. Noting that Africa’s percentage of global trade declined while African countries continue to depend on official development assistance (ODA), he stressed the need for “a shift from aid to trade.” On follow-up and review, Hamdok said ECA is working with partners to establish continental indicators for Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda, and is assisting countries in integrating those Agendas into their national plans, through support with statistics, development planning and policy advice. On MOI, he recognized the need to increase microfinance, tap into innovative sources of finance, and strengthen domestic sources of finance, and he stressed the importance of remittances.
Antonio Prado, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), highlighted ECLAC’s work to strengthen the regional architecture for follow-up and review and boost regional and national data ecosystems. ECLAC is also promoting the SDG’s incorporation into national development plans and budgets, he said, and it is creating a regional observatory on planning for sustainable development, including a regional repository of national development plans. ECLAC also coordinates the Forum of Latin American and Caribbean Countries on Sustainable Development.
In the ensuing discussion, Member States raised issues related to the Commissions’ role in: addressing water scarcity issues; supporting domestic resource mobilization; engaging on issues pertaining to information and communication technologies (ICTs); and helping countries prepare for the voluntary national reviews for the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
On a question about intergovernmental discussions on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR), which is expected to help align the UN development system with the 2030 Agenda, Akhtar noted that the UNGA resolution should propose that the Commissions become a primary and integral part of the development agenda, and are adequately funded. On a question about coordination among Regional Commissions, Bach said the Commissions recently held a joint forum on sustainable energy, and are working towards a ministerial conference on sustainable energy in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 2017. He further noted “extensive statistics cooperation” and synergies between the conferences of statisticians across regions. [Meeting Webcast] [UN Meeting Coverage]