On the third day of the sixth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020), participants “knuckled down” to critically assess Africa’s performance across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the morning, two plenary sessions addressed two of the “5P” clusters, People (SDGs 1-5), and Partnerships (SDG 17). In the afternoon, three parallel sessions convened to address the remaining three Ps: Prosperity (SDGs 10-11); Planet (SDGs 6, 12, 13 and 15); and Peace (SDG 16).
Building on background studies for each sub-theme, the discussions sought to go beyond enumerating problems to interrogate the reasons for Africa’s mixed performance across the SDGs. Drawing on practical lessons learned, the panels paid particular attention to interlinkages among SDGs in each cluster and explored innovative approaches to scale up implementation in the Decade for Action.
Discussions on the five “people-centered” SDGs underscored the need to address the underlying causes for the slow pace of change. Panelists stressed the need to move beyond “tallying numbers” to analyze why some groups are consistently being left behind. Representatives of people living with disabilities, and older persons, made a strong case for inclusive approaches that take into account the needs of all citizens.
In the discussions on partnerships, some of the key issues raised included the importance of basing projects on empirical, and context-specific, data, and building African capacity to not only mobilize diverse funding sources, but also effectively make us of, and account for SDG funds.
Under the prosperity theme, speakers highlighted good practices in promoting decent work and social protection, underscoring the importance of good governance, as well as infrastructure, education and capacity building for increasing productivity. Many welcomed the launch of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as a catalyst for industrial transformation.
Discussions on the planet theme focused on climate-related crises, noting they are not only impeding implementation of the SDGs, but also rolling back gains already made across many development indicators. Stressing the urgency of the issue, ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, cited estimates that some countries are spending the equivalent of 2-3% of their GDP on unplanned response weather and climate impacts, and reported on efforts to craft a common regional position for the 2020 UN Climate Conference.
On peace, discussions focused on transformative actions for peace, justice and strong institutions, with many noting that governance is a key enabler for all SDGs. In the context of the African Union “Silencing the Guns” initiative, participants stressed the importance of robust mechanisms to manage conflict, protect the most vulnerable, and promote human rights and the rule of law.
A full programme of side events also took place on the margins of the Forum, covering, among other topics: how to institutionalize youth-led accountability for people, prosperity and planet; nature-based solutions for accelerated actions and transformative pathways to the SDGs; partnering with faith groups to achieve sustainable development in Africa; enhancing data-driven actions for accountability; and strengthening national evaluation capacities for the Africa We Want.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, provided daily web coverage and daily reports from ARFSD 2020. In addition, IISD Reporting Services has published a summary report from the session in HTML and PDF.
Photos by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon
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Plenary Roundtable on Sub-Theme of the Regional Forum: People
Plenary Roundtable on Sub-Theme of the Regional Forum: Partnerships
Development, Nigeria; Fatou Kinteh, Minister for Women, Children, and Social Welfare, The Gambia; and Amon Murwira, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development, Zimbabwe
Parallel Sessions on Sub-Themes of the Regional Forum: Prosperity
Parallel Sessions on Sub-Themes of the Regional Forum: Planet
Parallel Sessions on Sub-Themes of the Regional Forum: Peace