2 April 2019
UNECE Regional Forum Shares Country Experiences in SDG Implementation
Photo by IISD/ENB
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Peer learning tables took place on each of the SDGs under review in 2019: SDG 4, SDG 8, SDG 10, SDG 13 and SDG 16.

The High-level Policy Segment of the Regional Forum discussed how VNRs can drive SDG implementation.

In her statement, the UN Deputy Secretary-General said she plans to attend all five Regional Forums and emphasized the role of the Regional Forums in maintaining ambition, reviewing progress and exchanging practices on SDG implementation.

23 March 2019: Participants at the 2019 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) for Europe shared experiences and discussed concrete solutions for achieving five SDGs that will be reviewed at the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Europe’s RFSD, convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), was the first of the five regional forum meetings taking place in 2019.

Over 850 government representatives and participants from international organizations, civil society, the private sector and academia attended the RFSD for Europe, which convened in Geneva, Switzerland, from 21-22 March 2019. Peer learning tables took place on five SDGs: Goals 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). On SDG 13, for example, Serbia shared its experience on gender and climate change, Tajikistan presented on strengthening climate action through access to international climate finance, Germany highlighted efforts to implement the SDGs in the private sector with its ‘Economy for the Common Good,’ Ukraine described the role of local institutions in climate action, Armenia shared how it promotes low-carbon sustainable lifestyles, the Netherlands addressed water and sanitation safety planning in schools, and the University of Geneva presented a case study on the water-energy-food nexus solutions in Aral Sea basin. A number of countries also presented their experiences in strengthening resilience and adaptation, including adaptation in the agriculture sector.

On SDG 16, a roundtable on fostering effective and inclusive governance for sustainable development elicited experiences in gender responsive budgeting to promote more effective and responsive institutions in North Macedonia, enhancing strategic planning and governance in public administration in the Czech Republic, and enhancing accessible and inclusive public service delivery systems in Albania. The Council of Europe presented its experience fostering effective and inclusive governance in Greece, Kyrgyzstan described referral mechanisms to respond to gender-based violence and Moldova address human-centered and gender-sensitive electoral education. A roundtable on empowering people to protect the planet discussed public participation in a transboundary context in Serbia, efforts to strengthen the capacity of judges in Kazakhstan to promote access to justice and rule of law in environmental matters, and Ukraine shared how it fosters governance for sustainable development, among other examples. During the Forum, UNECE released a snapshot of the region’s progress on the same five SDGs.

The RFSD’s High-level Policy Segment addressed how Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) can drive SDG implementation. During the first four-year cycle of the 2030 Agenda, 48 UNECE member States presented VNRs.

Albania’s Minister of Health and Social Protection, Ogerta Manastirliu, who chaired the RFSD, emphasized that “achieving the SDGs should be considered as an integrated process, rather than working in an isolated sectorial approach.” Manastirliu stressed the importance of mainstreaming gender, saying progress on SDG 5 (gender equality) is critical to deliver on all 17 SDGs.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said she plans to attend all five Regional Forums. She emphasized that the meetings represent “critical tools to maintain the ambition, review progress and exchange practices to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” and are also key in accelerating efforts to address climate change. Mohammed observed that the world is “off track” and needs to “pick up the pace” and accelerate efforts and generate more ambition to achieve the SDGs.

She identified key challenges for the UNECE region, including the transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies, insufficient progress in decoupling economic expansion from environmental degradation, slow progress in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and limited progress in closing gender gaps in labor participation and a significant rural-urban divide. Mohammed highlighted three drivers for increasing ambition and acclerating implementation: breaking down sectoral silos; matching intentions with public and private finance; and tackling gender inequality and facilitating women’s empowerment and political and social leadership. Mohammed concluded by underscoring the UN’s commitment to support efforts towards the SDGs, emphasizing that “aligning our assets to help you deliver on the 2030 Agenda is the highest priority of the Secretary-General’s reforms.”

The RFSD also discussed the use of technology, digitalization and artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate SDG progress, observing that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have “enormous potential” to fast-forward progress on the SDGs and improve people’s lives. Panelists discussed ways ICTs can address sources of inequality, promote solutions to tackle climate change and facilitate public participation.

A second panel highlighted opportunities to better use data and statistics to measure SDG progress and leave no one behind. Panelists shared perspectives on the importance of reliable, timely and granular data to identify where progress is being made and where the region and specific groups are falling behind. The panel also discussed the establishment of additional national indicators focused on specific national priorities. The Chair’s Summary of the 2019 RFSD will serve as the UNECE region’s official input to the HLPF.

Following the UNECE RFSD, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific held its regional forum (APFSD-6) in Bangkok, Thailand, from 27-29 March.

The remaining regional commissions’ meetings on sustainable development will take place in April:

  • UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA): 9-11 April 2019, Beirut, Lebanon;
  • UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA): 16-18 April 2019, Marrakech, Morocco; and
  • UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC): 22-26 April 2019, Santiago, Chile.

The HLPF will take place under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from 9-18 July 2019, in New York, US. [UNECE Press Release] [UN Deputy Secretary-General Statement] [RFSD Case Study Compilation] [UNECE Press Release in Advance of RFSD 2019] [UNECE RFSD 2019 Website] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 2018 RFSD]

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