Marrakesh — The fifth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) opened in Marrakesh Wednesday with a clarion call from Morocco's Head of Government, Saadeddine Othmani, for Africa to unite and fight its developmental challenges head-on with one voice and determination.
Mr. Othmani said the continent urgently needs to formulate a common position on key global issues it is facing, in particular climate change, which he said is stalling Africa's efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals and Agenda 2063 which carries the continent's developmental aspirations.
Speaking about 800 participants comprising ministers, academia, civil society and representatives of UN and partner agencies, he said,"We must leave no stone unturned to ensure we succeed as a continent. We need to step-up our partnerships and rise above our challenges.. empowering our people and populations and bringing greater quality is of utmost importance."
He underscored his government's commitment to work with fellow African countries to come up with an effective plan to address the challenges of climate change and the implementation of the two development Agendas - 2030 and 2063.
"We are convinced that we need to combine our efforts to strengthen our endeavor as Africans if we want to move with a vengeance to implement the SDGs and attain them," the Moroccan Head of Government said, adding: "We have high hopes that we will be able to build a decent Africa through effective planning, putting in place relevant policies and actions with our young people as our assets, ready to embrace the future. All we need to do is move forward with more determination and resolve."
For her part, Economic Commission for Africa's Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, said achieving the SDGs and effectively ensuring that no one is left behind requires "urgent and concrete measures across the board."
She highlighted the need for corrective actions to redesign and calibrate Africa's economies, as well as drive and catalyze sustainable development outcomes. She also stressed the need for bold and transformational leadership to capitalize on megatrends of population growth, a growing middle class, rapid urbanization and industrialization, climate change, and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area and called for strategies to create the enabling environment for greater participation of non-state actors, particularly the private sector and civil society.
"We also need greater investments in national statistics for monitoring, evaluation and reporting of development indicators," stressed Biha.
She told the forum that ECA is leading the development of an integrated planning and reporting toolkit that will align Agendas 2030 and 2063 and facilitate their integration into national development plans. "We look forward to supporting member States with this tool, particularly in the voluntary national reviews (VNRs) process," she said.
VNRs aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learnt in the implementation of the SDGs.
Participants are carrying out an in-depth review of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and the corresponding goals of Agenda 2063.
Under the spotlight also is SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) which seeks to address challenges and strengthen partnerships to develop capacity, harness science and technologies and mobilize and scale up finance to implement the goals.
Outcomes of ARFSD V will feed into the 2019 session of the High Level Political Forum under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which is the United Nations' central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.
The ARFSD outcomes will also be used for policy advocacy, formulation and implementation at regional and national levels.
This edition of the ARFSD is being convened under the under high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco.