regional_comissions_logos23 September 2016: High-level officials of the UN and Member States discussed regional cooperation and initiatives to support country efforts in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, at a side event during the 71st UN General Assembly (UNGA). Participants shared regional experiences, including on partnerships among governments, regional and subregional organizations and other stakeholders to deliver on the 2030 Agenda.

The event, titled ‘Regionalism and the 2030 Agenda,’ took place on 23 September 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, and was organized by the UN Regional Commissions. Opening the meeting, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that the drafters of both the UN Charter and the 2030 Agenda recognized the importance of regional action, which he said is essential in addressing trade, food and energy security, climate change, connectivity and the outbreak of health epidemics. He highlighted that regional commissions are “spearheading UN regional efforts to support their member countries” in implementing the 2030 Agenda, including by promoting integration, policy coherence, strengthened data and statistical capacities, and peer learning.

Hage Geingob, President of Namibia, underscored that unlike the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the 2030 Agenda is informed by Africa’s development priorities, as reflected in the Common Africa Position (CAP) on the post-2015 development agenda, which was the product of extensive consultations organized in all sub-regions of Africa by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union Commission (AUC). He said regional cooperation can help to remove barriers, including trans-boundary issues such as trade, shared natural resources and environmental challenges, and it can consolidate regional resources for producing energy and developing new infrastructure, in order to sustain the requisite economic growth levels.

Prakash Sharan Mahat, Nepal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed urgency in pursuing all possible ways to collaborate for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said regionalism can: generate useful information; enable sharing of experiences; and create a bridge between national development agendas and the global SDG framework.

Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), announced that ESCAP’s membership has passed a resolution to constitute and operationalize the annual Asia-Pacific Sustainable Development Forum (APFSD), which she said will offer: assessment of regional trends with supportive analysis of issues and progress; promotion of policy coherence and consistency; and knowledge and tools for institutional coordination and implementation of the SDGs. She highlighted other ESCAP efforts in support of SDGs implementation, including: strengthening and developing common SDG databases with harmonized monitoring indicators and tracking mechanisms; offering modalities and tools for SDG prioritization and integration to mainstream sustainability and inclusivity in national development plans; enhancing regional knowledge of public financial management, including domestic tax reform options with supportive fiscal redistribution policies; supporting the leveraging of science, technology and innovation (STI) for sustainable development; and facilitating trade liberalization through single-window, electronic trade platforms and investment liberalization.

Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), said ECLAC maintains a repository of national development plans, which includes institutional experiences to achieve full integration of the economic, social and environmental dimensions, while also supporting the incorporation of the SDGs into national and territorial development plans, budgets, and public and private investment procedures. She said the repository aims to strengthen and link national statistics systems with the help of big data, as well as to improve the availability and quality of statistics for 2030 Agenda follow-up and review. Barcena also announced that ECLAC will convene the annual Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development. The Forum, established in May 2016, will serve as a regional follow-up mechanism to the 2030 Agenda. Its first meeting will take place in April 2017, in Mexico.

Other speakers included: the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and Kazakhstan; the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States; the Executive Director of the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AMEXCID); the UNECA Executive Secretary; the Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); and the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Christian Friis Bach. [Meeting Webcast] [UN Secretary-General Remarks] [ECLAC Executive Secretary Remarks] [ESCAP Executive Secretary Remarks] [President of Namibia Remarks] [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal Press Release] [Event Flyer] [Event Programme] [Meeting Summary by ESCAP]