A session on messages from the UN regions on Wednesday presented a more vivid picture of the severe impacts of COVID-19 around the world. The Africa region highlighted that the predicted GDP growth rate for Africa had fallen from 3.2% before the pandemic struck, to 1.8% or even negative figures after, according to some forecasts. The Latin America and the Caribbean region, meanwhile, is projected to suffer the worst contraction in GDP growth in its history as a result of the pandemic, of -5.3%.
Other regions also described the impacts of the pandemic, and progress, challenges, and priorities towards achieving the SDGs. Their statements were based mainly on virtual meetings – only the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development took place physically before the pandemic struck. The overall picture was mixed, with modest progress in some areas, but many challenges, including: statistical capacities for disaggregated and quality data; mainstreaming gender equality; redirecting financial flows towards circular growth, carbon neutrality, and nature-based solutions; and enhancing accountability, including through partnerships with civil society.
The presentation of VNRs continued after the messages from the regions. The Finance Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said SDG 17 (global partnerships) is “the most significant and transformative pillar” of the 2030 Agenda. Without development finance, capacity building, technology transfer, fair and open trade, cooperative partnerships, and genuine systemic reform, he said “sustainable development will remain illusory, pursued diligently, but never attained.”
Estonia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Austria, Seychelles, Syrian Arab Republic, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Mozambique, and Papua New Guinea presented their VNRs on Wednesday.