Special webinars focused on solutions to challenges in delivering on the SDGs and the importance of gender-responsive standards, policy coherence and reliable statistics.
Among the agenda items, UNECE presented the findings of a first regional report on SDG progress and the Forum discussed how Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) contribute to realizing the SDGs in the region.
The 2020 session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) recognized the significant challenges the region faces in achieving the SDGs. Participants called for accelerating the region’s progress to support the Decade of Action and Delivery.
Over 300 stakeholders participated in the virtual meeting, which convened on 19 March. UNECE originally planned to hold a one- and a half day Forum with 15 sessions and a focus on peer learning. In response to the COVID-10 pandemic, UNECE changed the conference to an entirely virtual meeting. Special webinars focused on solutions to challenges in delivering on the SDGs and the importance of gender-responsive standards, policy coherence and reliable statistics. A virtual Civil Society Meeting, which coordinated the inputs of over 150 civil society partners across the region, preceded the Forum.
In opening remarks, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said “we have not yet seen the broad and deep transformative change that the 2030 Agenda requires.” She stressed, “there is no denying that we have a mountain to climb over the coming decade” and emphasized a sense of urgency for all regional fora for the SDGs.
UNECE presented the findings of a first regional report on SDG progress, which finds “some good progress and many gaps” on the way to transformative change in the UNECE region. The report titled, ‘Towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the UNECE region: A statistical portrait of progress and challenges,’ reviews trends in progress on 49 global SDG indicators and finds increased ambition is needed to meet environmental targets. The Forum also discussed how Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) contribute to realizing the SDGs in the region.
Countries shared concrete actions to accelerate SDG progress and advance green and inclusive change, such as the UNECE Trees in the Cities Challenge. European Commission (EC) representative, Luca Marmo, presented the European Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan. Finland shared its strategy to become carbon neutral by 2035, and Denmark highlighted its Youth Climate Advisory Council as a channel for youth engagement in Denmark.
Alongside calls for accelerating SDG efforts, participants recognized the need for solidarity and multilateralism, given the COVID-19 pandemic. The vice president of the European Youth Council, Tina Hočevar, said “we can beat this crisis and we can beat the climate crisis” with rationality and solidarity. UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova welcomed the region’s “coordinated solutions to common problems,” underscoring the importance of working together to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and leave no one behind. [UNECE Press Release] [Forum Website] [Forum Programme] [UNECE Press Release on COVID-19 Response] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on UNECE SDG Progress Report]