The UN Secretary-General report on ‘Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields’ outlines examples of initiatives undertaken by the UN regional commissions to advance the SDGs, and reflects on steps taken by the commissions to cooperate on the Agenda.
The report was issued in advance of the 2019 session of the July HLPF, which will include discussions on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the regional level.
14 May 2019: As an input to the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the UN Secretary-General issued a report showing contributions of the UN regional commissions to advance the SDGs. The publication also discusses interregional cooperation and coherence for making progress on the Goals.
The report titled, ‘Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields,’ reflects on steps taken by the regional commissions to align their work with the requirements of the 2030 Agenda, and on the role of the commissions in leveraging partnerships and cooperation in support of the Agenda. On SDG initiatives taken by the regional commissions, the report notes that the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), in coordination with relevant UN country teams, partnered to strengthen accountability systems in cities in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru, and made available virtual tools to facilitate city-to-city cooperation and knowledge exchange.
A list of 154 indicators has been agreed by ECLAC countries, enabling them to report on SDG progress in a harmonized, comparable way.
The report also highlights that a list of 154 indicators has been agreed upon by countries in the region, helping countries to report more efficiently on their progress in achieving the Goals through a region-specific, harmonized and comparable approach. The list was agreed through ECLAC, which serves as secretariat to the Statistical Coordination Group for the 2030 Agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The report indicates that the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has established a high-level panel on illicit financial flows (IFFs), undertaken research on IFF methodology and estimates, and provided policy advice to member States to address IFFs, tax evasion and trade mis-invoicing. As a result of these efforts, it reports, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Tunisia have begun to implement IFF policies. On statistics, the report notes that the UNECA statistics database has been revamped as an online statistical database for socioeconomic data on African countries, it is “fully aligned” with the SDG indicators, and it serves as a one-stop shop for validated data and metadata for 32 African countries.
Discussing the work of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the report notes that in October 2018, more than 15 countries from outside the pan-European region announced their interest in acceding to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes. It notes a high degree of implementation of the Convention, through national regulations, transboundary agreements and the establishment of institutional arrangements. On the management of natural resources, the report says the UN Framework Classification for Fossil Energy and Mineral Reserves and Resources is increasingly accepted as a global standard that can help to ensure the sound management of all resources, including secondary resources to facilitate the circular economy. And on statistics, it indicates that the Commission is developing several tools to support countries in implementing the UNECE roadmap on statistics for the SDGs, which was approved in 2017 by approximately 60 countries from the region.
In Asia and the Pacific, the report states that the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) launched the Asia-Pacific SDG Gateway in March 2019, which provides access to data and statistics on progress against SDG indicators in the 58 member states of ESCAP. It reprots that ESCAP’s normative work has been directed largely towards leaving no one behind, and that it has assisted countries in preparing voluntary national reviews (VNRs) to engage stakeholders in dialogues about the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
According to the report, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) has prepared a data portal that comprises 100 million “data points” on social, economic and environmental data. This portal is the basis for a regional SDG monitoring portal that will be launched later in 2019. It notes that the Commission developed a regional handbook on statistics on persons with disabilities, as well as an institutional gaps assessment for Arab countries in conflict or post-conflict settings. This tool assists countries in strengthening the public sector’s capacity to support recovery, improve development outcomes and prevent conflict relapse, and has been deployed in Iraq and Yemen, the report says.
On coherence, the report states that the regional commissions have taken “important steps” to align their programmes and conference structures to the requirements of the 2030 Agenda. According to the report, the commissions are working with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and other UN development system entities to harmonize statistical dashboards in support of SDG monitoring.
The report further discusses interregional cooperation, noting that meetings of the regional commissions’ Executive Secretaries have resulted in coordinated positions and contributions to regional responses in support of the 2030 Agenda, including on the repositioning of the UN, on migration and other matters.
The HLPF will include discussions on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the regional level. [Publication: Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields: Report of the Secretary-General]