22 May 2018
Arab Forum Sends Messages on Natural Resources, Youth Inclusion to HLPF
Photo Credit: Lynn Wagner
story highlights

The Arab Forum for Sustainable Development discussed SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17, along with the importance of ensuring no one is left behind and including youth and women in decision-making.

With eight ESCWA members presenting VNRs during the 2018 HLPF, a session discussed lessons learned and good practices regarding that mechanism.

The Forum’s final report will be submitted to represent the Arab Region's input in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda.

26 April 2018: The Arab Forum for Sustainable Development agreed on a set of key messages on SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDG 15 (life on land) as the region’s input to the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The Arab Forum meeting focused on the theme, ‘Natural Resources, Future Generations and the Common Good.

Participants also discussed the three other SDGs under review at HLPG 2018: SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities); SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production); and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) convenes the Forum annually to facilitate stocktaking of regional and national progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The AFSD is the primary regional mechanism for the follow up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Over 250 participants attended the Forum, which took place in Beirut, Lebanon, from 24-26 April 2018. Six preparatory meetings – on SDGs 6, 7 and 15, on technology and innovation, and with parliamentarians and civil society organizations (CSOs) – were held in advance of the Forum.

On the 2030 Agenda’s principle of “no one left behind” and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), participants identified factors that contribute to groups or individuals being left behind in development efforts, including: conflict, occupation and wars; urban-rural divides; and exclusionary political and social practices in the region. The Forum also considered opportunities to include youth, which make up approximately 30% of the Arab region’s population, in decision-making processes as well as to address SDG 5 (gender equality) simultaneously with other SDGs.

A session on voluntary national reviews (VNRs) of SDG implementation discussed lessons learned and good practices in presenting a VNR at the HLPF. Participants recognized VNRs as both a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mechanism that can support setting national targets, reviewing progress and mobilizing implementation. Eight Arab countries are planning to present VNRs at the 2018 HLPF: Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

ESCWA Executive Secretary Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the region needs to take “bold steps to make a culture transformation and invest in science and innovation.” He highlighted the Forum’s discussion on how to integrate natural resources into development planning while also ensuring that actions align with Arab countries’ priorities.

The Forum’s key messages will be shared with the HLPF secretariat, and its final report will be submitted to the HLPF session in July. [ESCWA Press Release on Closing] [ESCWA Press Release on Opening] [Forum Agenda] [SDG Knowledge Hub brief on HLPF preparations]

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