Harare — Zimbabwe has confirmed that it will host the 6th Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) which will be held in the resort town of Victoria Falls from 24-27 February, 2020.
Officials from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) met Monday with senior government officials, including Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare Minister, Ms. Sekai Nzenza, in the first preparatory meeting towards Harare's successful hosting of the Forum.
Ms. Nzenza said Zimbabwe is proud to host the ARFSD, adding the Forum is a great opportunity for the country to showcase itself and its transitional stabilisation programme, whose major focus is re-engagement following years of isolation, among other important factors.
"This is a very good opportunity for Zimbabwe in the re-engagement drive. The development of economic growth and Vision 2030, where we see the country becoming an upper middle class economy by 2030, is very important to us," the Minister said.
She said the climate change agenda in particular was one of Zimbabwe's major focus on the SDGs following this year's devastating drought and Cyclone Idai that destroyed infrastructure worth over a billion dollars in three southern African nations during the rainy season.
Ms. Nzenza added the Forum is coming to Zimbabwe at the right time 'where we want to really focus on the SDGs'.
Mr. Oliver Chinganya, Director of the ECA's African Centre for Statistics and Officer in Charge of the Technology, Climate Change and Natural Resources Management Division, led the UNECA team.
"The ARFSD is very important as it helps us take stock of where the continent is in terms of implementing the SDGs," he said.
"Presently we are not doing very well. We are lacking in many areas. There are a lot of holes, especially when you look at data be it on poverty or climate change. So the 2020 Forum needs to spur ambitious actions to help us deliver on all the goals as Africa."
The Forum provides a platform for peer learning and exchange, especially on regional Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and implementation of SDGs, said Mr. Chinganya.
Minister Nzenza, who concurred that Africa was behind in implementing the SDGs, said Zimbabwe will at the High Level Political Forum in 2020 present its second VNR, sharing its experiences, challenges and lessons learned so far in implementing the SDGs.
The 2020 ARFSD is intended to be an action-oriented Forum for stakeholders to explore, gain insight into, share and agree on sets of concrete and workable actions that will enable the African countries to achieve set targets within the set time.
All the 17 SDGs will be under spotlight at the 2020 Forum.