20 March 2018
Arab Region Gears Up for SDG Implementation
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
story highlights

Eight Arab countries are expected to present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) in July 2018.

A study on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the Arab region identifies a number of areas or tasks where multi-stakeholder collaboration could help accelerate these efforts.

The UAE Government launched the ‘Global Councils on SDGs’ that will “focus on developing innovative solutions and implementation of SDGs”.

18 March 2018: A number of Arab countries are preparing to present their progress on implementing the 2030 Agenda at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Studies published and events organized during the month of February provided momentum for these preparations and sought to raise ambition in the region.

With the list of countries closed, eight Arab countries are among the 47 expected to present Voluntary National Review (VNR) reports in July 2018, namely Bahrain, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Sudan and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Of these, Egypt and Qatar are presenting for the second time.

A study by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) titled, ‘Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals – Early Experiences in the Arab Region,’ from February 2018, analyzes efforts by Arab countries in enhancing the frameworks for regional and domestic governance for implementing the SDGs. The study focuses on Arab countries that have already presented VNRs (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Qatar), as well as the UAE.

The study finds that work by the region’s governments to mainstream the 2030 Agenda is “well underway,” but the institutionalization of the Agenda is at different stages. It identifies a number of commonalities among the countries examined, including a need for further attention to data aggregation and to building robust monitoring and follow-up mechanisms. The study notes that in the area of monitoring, there are synergies between national and regional efforts, and that in the area of financing and technology, “regional complementarities exist around enhanced cooperation.”

The study also points to areas or tasks where multi-stakeholder collaboration could help accelerate the 2030 Agenda’s implementation in the region. It recommends that Arab countries: provide targeted implementation assistance to countries in danger of reversing sustainable development gains; share lessons on both successes and failures in national implementation; foster regional networks to empower knowledge stakeholders; and support regional collaboration among “indicator stakeholders” to help deliver the data for monitoring and follow-up on the SDGs.

Also in February, the UAE Government inaugurated the Global Councils on SDGs, an initiative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank Group and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In the Councils, global leaders serve as champions for each SDG, and the network fosters the sharing of innovative practices and creative implementation of the SDGs. Among the individuals leading the Councils are: Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank, for SDG 1 (no poverty); Irina Bokova, former Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), for SDG 4 (quality education); International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Director General Adnan Amin, for SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy); and former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, for SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

The Councils initiative was launched during the SDGs in Action Forum, which took place in conjunction with the World Government Summit (WGS), a high-level event organized annually by the UAE government in Dubai. The Forum targets decision makers and other stakeholders from government, international organizations, private sector and academia from the UAE and abroad, and aims to provide inputs into 2030 Agenda-related UN processes, including the HLPF. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on VNR 2018 countries] [EDA Insight on Implementing the SDGs in the Arab Region] [UAE WGS 2018 agenda] [UAE Government press release] [UAE National Committee on SDGs tweet] [IPAG think tank press release on SDGs Global Councils]

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