Addis Ababa — Since Rio +20, Africa has been redefining, refining, implementing and reviewing sustainable development. As such, "the region will not be starting from scratch in reviewing implementation of sustainable development agreements," said Ms Federica Pietracci, Senior Economist from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs at the opening of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development conference in Addis Ababa.
With three important milestones for sustainable development on the agenda in 2015, the momentum and enthusiasm are picking up, noted Ms. Pietracci. Addis Ababa will host the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in July, New York the adoption of SDGs in September, and Paris the Climate Change Conference in December.
"It is known that Africa is blessed with abundant natural resources to create new jobs and new opportunities to transform our economies, so let us rise up to overcome the challenges for the sustainable development of our continent," declared the African Union Commission in its statement.
Mr Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia's State Minister of Finance and Economic Development reminded organisations and institutions working in sustainable development that "effective participation requires organisation". He suggested that delegates "strengthen the mechanisms that will ensure the effective involvement of African countries".
While it is "essential Africa's priorities are well incorporated in the decisions made in the Forum," Mr. Shide highlighted the importance of "mobilising domestic resources to fund these planned development projects" instead of solely relying on external funding.
Ms. Josephine Ngure, the Resident Representative of the African Development Bank in Ethiopia believes prospects for Africa are brighter now than at the turn of the century but "we need to register better progress under the SDGs," than was achieved under the now expiring MDGs.
"Seize new opportunities presented today to eradicate poverty," Ms. Ngure asserted echoing ECA's Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr. Abdalla Hamdok's opening remarks on the Forum being "a momentous opportunity that Africa must seize to pave the way for its meaningful participation in the global institutional architecture for sustainable development".
Mr. Evans Simiyu Muturu, Counsellor in the Permanent Mission of Kenya to the UN, offered practical ideas on development, affordable technology and the green economy. Since sustainable development relies on the solid support of science, technology and innovation, Mr. Muturu suggested, "green economies can flourish and drive future growth especially if we drive down the cost of technology".
Mr. Samba Haruma of the UN Environmental Programme indicated "Africa's ecological footprint is set to double soon if business continues as usual but environmental constraints can be turned into economic opportunities" based on green investments.
The Forum is jointly organised by ECA, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).