8 March 2023
Regional Forum Calls for Innovative Finance for SDGs in Africa
Photo by Children and Young People Living for Peace, Nigeria
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The Forum focused on five SDGs undergoing in-depth review at the HLPF in July – and the corresponding goals of Agenda 2063.

The meeting outcome invites development partners to support African countries in accessing sources of innovative finance.

The African forum was the first in a series of five regional gatherings for each group of UN Member States, in preparation for the HLPF in July 2023 and the SDG Summit in September.

The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) held its 2023 regional forum on sustainable development (RFSD). Delegates adopted the ‘Niamey Declaration on accelerating the inclusive and green recovery from multiple crises and the integrated and full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, of the African Union.’

Along with key messages from the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD), the Declaration will be presented at the July 2023 meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the SDG Summit in September.

The ninth session of the Forum convened from 28 February to 2 March 2023 in Niamey, Niger, in person and online. Five SDGs – 6 (clean water and sanitation), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals) – and the corresponding goals of Agenda 2063 underwent in-depth review. Participants shared experiences, good practices, and lessons learned from implementing the two agendas.

At the Forum’s opening, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed highlighted the impacts of today’s cascading crises that Africa is taking “full on,” including the climate crisis, the war in Ukraine, and “socioeconomic fall-outs of COVID-19.” She underscored that the world’s current trajectory towards 2.7°C of warming could lead to losses of nearly 15% of gross domestic product (GDP) in the Sahel region. She said the mid-point of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 is the time for solidarity, leadership, and commitment, and emphasized the role of African-led solutions in “chang[ing] course and ris[ing] to the challenge of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.”

Mohammed called on world leaders to support “solutions from a rising Africa,” such as the African Union’s (AU) action plan on sustainable industrialization and economic diversification and the development of a sustainable value chain for electric vehicle battery minerals by UNECA and partners. She said the SDG Summit in September must deliver in three areas: re-energizing national SDG promises; making tangible progress on SDG financing; and reinvigorating the concept of genuine partnership.

During closing, UNECA Deputy Executive Secretary Hanan Morsy stressed the need for a “renewed sense of solidarity and an understanding that we will have a faster global recovery, if we are willing to invest in those regions where the most potential gains can be made.” She called for crowding in the private sector, ensuring access to more blended finance tools, and enhancing African countries’ domestic resource mobilization.

Governments attending the Forum adopted the Niamey Declaration, which:

  • Requests support for African countries “in the pursuit of resource-based industrialization, including the promotion of a mineral value chain for lithium ion batteries”;
  • Invites development partners to support African countries in accessing sources of innovative finance;
  • Requests expanded support for, among other initiatives: voluntary national and local reviews; debt-for-nature swaps; the regional digital carbon registry; capacity building for green, blue, and sustainable bonds; the Great Blue Wall initiative; and the liquidity and sustainability facility, to overcome financing challenges to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063;
  • Requests capacity-building support for African countries to effectively implement the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF);
  • Calls upon African countries to redefine their economic models to protect water and land, promote renewable energy and a just transition, implement green and resilient infrastructure that supports sustainable industrialization, and support urbanization that enables inclusive growth, recognizing the value of human capital; and
  • Encourages African countries to harness science, innovation, and state-of-the-art emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), and the potential of young people to drive transformative change over the next ten years.

The Forum is an annual multi-stakeholder platform organized by UNECA and the host government – this year, Niger – in collaboration with the AU Commission, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and other UN entities. The Forum was preceded by a workshop of Major Groups and other Stakeholders, the fifth African Science, Technology and Innovation Forum, a workshop on voluntary national reviews (VNRs) and voluntary local reviews (VLRs), and the second session of the fourth edition of Africa Climate Talks.

The African forum was the first in a series of five regional gatherings for each group of UN Member States, in preparation for the HLPF in July 2023 and the SDG Summit in September. [ARFSD 2023 Website]

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