20 March 2024
UNECE Forum Highlights Opportunities for Key Transitions Towards 2030
Photo by IISD/ENB
story highlights

The RFSD Co-Chairs encouraged participants to “increase momentum for the SDGs,” highlighting the forum as “an opportunity to take strong messages forward” to the HLPF and the Summit of the Future in September.

The Summit of the Future is expected to accelerate efforts to deliver on the SDGs and respond to emerging challenges and opportunities.

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) convened its annual regional forum on sustainable development (RFSD) in preparation for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July. The forum explored opportunities for advancing key transitions and cooperation towards achieving the SDGs in the region and discussed progress towards the Goals undergoing in-depth review in 2024.

According to the UNECE SDG Progress Report, the region is on track to achieve only 20 of the SDG targets by 2030, with 80 in need of acceleration, and 17 requiring a reversal of trend. 

Acknowledging that the situation is alarming, UNECE Executive Secretary Tatiana Molcean highlighted it as “a unique opportunity, for each of us, be it UN institutions, member States, civil society, youth, private sector, all actors, to reverse and to accelerate.” She called on participants to jointly turn statements into actions.

In her remarks, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed emphasized that despite the “strong headwinds” ranging from “the COVID-19 pandemic and cost-of-living crises, to financing, food and energy vulnerabilities, and a triple planetary crisis,” “there is reason for hope.” She identified four areas where a long-term vision can drive key transitions: inclusive and sustainable energy coupled with climate action; food security and sustainable food systems; education; and digital connectivity.

Forum Co-Chairs, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia Vahan Kostanyan and Deputy Minister of Regional Development of the Czech Republic Radim Sršeň, encouraged participants to “increase momentum for the SDGs.” They highlighted the RFSD as “an opportunity to take strong messages forward” to the HLPF and the Summit of the Future in September.

Discussions on the Goals under in-depth review for 2024 revealed that, inter alia:

  • SDG 1 (no poverty): Social protection plays a key role in responding to shocks, significant investment in green and decent job creation is needed, and achieving universal access to social protection floors requires political will and whole-of-government ownership.
  • SDG 2 (zero hunger): Food systems contribute significantly to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, yet they are highly vulnerable to climate change. Sustainable agricultural practices present solutions for climate and biodiversity. Reducing food loss and waste, adopting innovative solutions, digitalization, and enhancing the role of farmers and multi-stakeholder participation are essential.
  • SDG 13 (climate action): Climate change threatens SDG progress. Risk assessments, response plans, and social protection a paramount in mitigating climate risks. Climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected, and integrated policy solutions are needed, including budgeting and participatory approaches.
  • SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions): Misinformation around elections, digital development in public services, transparency, and access to justice present challenges. It is imperative to promote partnerships and innovation to address interconnected crises and improve access to justice, participation, and local governance.
  • SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals): There are persistent and emerging digital divides. There is an urgent need to bridge digital gaps while advancing gender inclusion, with a human-centric approach at the core of digital development.

The Co-Chairs’ summary of the discussions will serve as the region’s official input for the HLPF and inform the Summit of the Future, which is expected to accelerate efforts to deliver on the SDGs and respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. 

The 2024 UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 13-14 March. The UNECE region comprises the countries of Europe as well as countries in North America (Canada and the US), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), and Western Asia (Israel). [UNECE Press Release on RFSD Opening] [UNECE Press Release on RFSD Closing]

related events

related posts