23 April 2019
Africa Regional Forum Prepares Input to HLPF
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The ARFSD concluded with the adoption of the Marrakech Declaration, which will be presented to the HLPF.

The first African Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Forum discussed the ways in which STI can help the continent achieve the SDGs and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Participants were informed that achieving the SDGs in Africa will require more than USD 600 billion annually.

22 April 2019: The fifth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 5) addressed more efficient ways to raise capital to help realize the SDGs in Africa, given that achieving them will require more than USD 600 billion annually. The Forum concluded with the adoption of the Marrakech Declaration, to be presented to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The Forum convened in Marrakech, Morocco from 16-18 April 2019, under the theme ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’ It brought together over 800 participants to consider implementation of the SDGs and the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063. Proceedings included a high-level panel focusing on the ARFSD’s theme, a session on support and progress made at the regional and sub-regional levels on implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Africa’s Agenda 2063, and a roundtable on voluntary national reviews (VNRs) and peer learning on implementation, follow-up and review of the Agendas.

The July 2019 session of the HLPF will include an in-depth review of several SDGs, and parallel sessions during the ARFSD discussed Africa’s input on:

  • SDG 4 (quality education), and the need to include sustainable development in school curricula, and improve educational material and methods for children with special needs;
  • SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), and the need to recognize the contribution of the informal sector and further collaboration with the private sector in job-targeted training;
  • SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), cautioning against inequalities caused by caste systems that encourage modern forms of slavery, and recommending ensuring hygiene facilities to enhance girls’ school attendance;
  • SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), and recommending to resolve conflict through dialogue and greater involvement of human rights organizations;
  • SDG 13 (climate action), and the mobilization of funds for climate-resilient policies; and
  • SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals), and recommendations to remove trade barriers within Africa and ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The Forum’s Declaration calls for, inter alia:

  • Strengthening South-South cooperation and experience sharing to address challenges and forge multi-stakeholder partnerships, plans and programmes at the regional and sub-regional levels;
  • Taking appropriate measures to bring the consequences of global warming under control, limiting it to a rise not exceeding 1.5°C;
  • Emphasizing the interdependence of peace, security and sustainable development, and recognizing progress made by African countries in this regard;
  • Establishing effective financing strategies and meeting commitments in support of Africa;
  • Establishing a solidarity fund for statistical development to support African countries to collect necessary statistical data, given the difficulties faced by a number of African countries in reporting on SDG targets and indicators;
  • Fostering and promoting innovation and technology to fill the gaps in data needed for preparing national and regional development policies; and
  • Strengthening the role of stakeholders, in particular parliamentarians, in attaining the SDGs.

Pre-event workshops took place on 16 April. The first African Regional Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum discussed the ways in which STI can help the region achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2063, including by: providing opportunities for young African innovators; scaling up competencies in research and institutions; and accelerating the application of machine learning, artificial intelligence, open data, robotics and the Internet. [UNECA Press Release on STI Forum]

UNECA and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) organized a preparatory and capacity development workshop for the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders in Africa to help prepare for the 2019 HLPF. Workshop participants agreed to accelerate efforts to establish the African Regional Engagement and Coordination Mechanism for more meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement in sustainable development in Africa. [UNECA Press Release on Workshop]

The Regional Preparatory Workshop for Africa Voluntary National Review (VNR) Countries provided the opportunity to share experiences on VNR reporting in support of joint implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. Participants emphasized the need: to strengthen the capacity of countries undertaking VNRs and integrating the two development agendas; for African countries to have a road map and common position in advance of the HLPF; and to raise Africa-specific issues at the HLPF, and the role of supreme audit institutions (SAIs) in implementation, follow-up and review of the SDGs. The event was organized by UNECA, DESA, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) and the African Union (AU). [VNR Workshop] [Speaking with One Voice at the HLPF]

A number of side events were also held, including on: the centrality of population dynamics to sustainable development; and peace, stability, human rights and effective governance, and the inextricable link between SDG 16 and achievement of the other SDGs. An event on climate change emphasized the need for African countries to prioritize the uptake and use of climate information as early warning measures to climate proof infrastructure and other investments, and adopt contingency measures to protect life and property from climate-induced disasters. [Press Release on Population Dynamics] [UNECA Press Release on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions for Sustainable Development in Africa] [Press Release on Climate Change]

Zimbabwe will host the sixth session of the ARFSD in April 2020 in Victoria Falls. [UNECA Press Release at Closure of Meeting] [Press Release on Closing Statement of Deputy Executive Secretary] [Press Release on Reaffirming Commitment to SDGs] [Press Release on High-Level Ministerial] [Press Release on Opening of Forum] [Press Release on STI Use in Africa] [IISD Reporting Services Coverage of Africa RFSD]

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