unga7023 October 2015: The UN General Assembly’s Second Committee (Economic and Financial) held a dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the five UN Regional Commissions to discuss their role in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. UN Member States and the Commission representatives discussed regional challenges and how they can be addressed through regional efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The dialogue took place on 23 October 2015, in New York, US.

Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), spoke about excess of supply and lack of demand at the global level, saying emerging economies are unable to absorb that supply. Challenges faced by the LAC region, she said, include: low productivity; gaps in infrastructure; asymmetries in access to technology; the reduced price of all raw materials; and stable but still-fragile democracies. She stressed the need for: diversifying production; creating more jobs; multilateral cooperation on tax matters; a global agreement supportive of developing countries; and South-South and triangular cooperation, especially since the LAC region has many middle-income countries (MICs) that now lack access to concessional funding.

Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), said the UNECE’s achievements have made it a go-to-source for improving global public goods and services, with more than 100 countries beyond the UNECE region benefiting from its work, including through adhering to road conventions and road safety standards. He noted that UNECE is working on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Goal 14 on oceans being the only SDG it does not directly address, but said UNECE addresses these issues through its work on trans-boundary water management.

Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said ESCAP is focused on the SDGs that are trans-boundary in nature and require a regional approach. Its focus for the Goals includes: policy coordination; strengthening national statistical systems; regional integration; reporting on regional SDG performance; and promoting the balance and integration of the three pillars of sustainable development. She also highlighted ESCAP’s work on connectivity planning to support the Goals through infrastructure development, job creation, and energy expansion. On follow-up and review, Akhtar said that only 25-50% of the proposed SDG indicators can be produced in countries in the region, even by those with the most developed statistical systems, Republic of Korea and Japan. She said the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) will provide inputs to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and announced that the third APFSD will launch the road map for SDG implementation in Asia-Pacific, and that ESCAP will produce an annual Asia-Pacific report on SDG progress.

Abdallah Al Dardari, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), said regional conflicts have a powerful impact on development, making baselines recede dramatically, due to instability, aggression, occupation, and forced migration. He stressed that narrow national development projects cannot respond to the current challenges, which require regional integration and youth involvement. Al Dardari noted that the Arab region’s vision for 2030 is an integrated region where all individuals lead dignified lives in diverse and flourishing societies, and that ESCWA has developed a long-term vision for achieving the SDGs. It aims to serve as the voice of the region by creating regional platforms for deliberation and consensus-building that feed into global fora, as well as a think tank for the region, undertaking innovative research and supporting quality data collection and analysis for evidence-based policy making.

Ingrid Cyimana, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), discussed StatCom-Africa, which she said provides a platform to facilitate the national harmonization and comparability of statistics and increase inclusion of all data communities. She said UNECA is supporting the capacity strengthening of national statistical systems to produce reliable statistics and the regional SDGs follow-up and review architecture. She said the regional accountability framework should encourage citizen participation, be inclusive, build on existing frameworks and and provide strong ownership.

In the discussion that followed, the Russian Federation addressed the follow-up and review for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, saying that the SDGs are highly interrelated and splitting them into clusters by number (Goals 1-4, Goals 5-9) would not yield an accurate overview. He proposed sectoral reviews instead, to allow addressing all the SDGs every year. He opposed any “pressure” on States to implement certain targets as the reviews are voluntary. Other Member States expressed strong support for the work of the Regional Commissions and noted their important role in the follow-up and review architecture, and in capacity building at the regional level. [IISD RS Sources] [Dialogue Details and Webcast] [Regional Commissions Webpage] [Second Committee Documents]