Africa’s preparatory event for the 2020 UN High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) adopted a package of priority actions and policy measures to speed up implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. It followed on the heels of the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit, which focused on the 2020 theme, ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.’
Addressing the overarching theme, ‘2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063,’ the sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 2020), was also the first regional consultation to take place under the [email protected] reform process. On the margins of the Forum, UN Deputy Secretary-General (UNDSG) Amina Mohammed convened several consultations with regional stakeholders, including UN and AU institutions, and youth, to elicit perspectives from on the ongoing UN reform process.
ARFSD 2020 took place from 24-27 February 2020, in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. It was co-organized by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Government of Zimbabwe, in collaboration with the AU Commission (AUC), African Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN system. It brought together nearly 3,000 delegates in plenary and parallel sessions over the four days, holding more than 60 preparatory and side events.
The Regional Forum assessed Africa’s progress on all 17 SDGs, clustered around the “five Ps” of the 2030 Agenda: people, prosperity, planet, peace, and partnerships. Drawing on regional data sources – including the Africa Sustainable Development Report 2020, and the inaugural AU Continental Report on the Implementation of Agenda 2063 – there was a convergence of evidence that, despite some pockets of progress, the region is off track on both global and regional goals.
Forum participants engaged in in-depth discussion of key findings and lessons from a selection of VNRs currently being conducted by 17 African countries for presentation at the HLPF in July 2020, as well as emerging lessons from voluntary local reviews (VLRs), which featured for the first time at the Forum. A recurring theme in the discussions was the need to address weak national and local capacity in accessing and using quality and relevant data. Underscoring the importance of building VNRs on evidence-based local reviews, the Forum proposed developing a template to support country reporting. Accelerators for delivering a transformed and prosperous Africa, including through leveraging science, technology and innovation (STI), and strengthening partnerships with the UN Development System, major groups, youth, and other stakeholders were also highlighted.
The Forum adopted a ministerial declaration, titled, ‘Victoria Falls Declaration on the UN Decade of Action and Delivery for Sustainable Development in Africa,’ as well as an outcome summary report and key messages containing Africa’s priorities and policy measures to speed up implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
Addressing the negative impact of the climate crisis, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), cited estimates that some countries are spending the equivalent of 2-3% of their GDP on unplanned responses to weather and climate impacts. Touching on repercussions for the water, energy, conflict, food security, and hydropower production sectors, she highlighted efforts underway to craft a common regional position on this issue for the 2020 UN Climate Conference.
During the 33rd AU Summit, which took place from 8-9 February, 2020, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the AU-UN strategic partnership is growing “ever stronger and more dynamic,” and highlighted interlinkages between the ‘Silencing the Guns’ initiative with targets on human rights, gender equality, climate change, and sustainable development. With an estimated tripling of armed conflicts over the past decade, despite implementation of a peace and security roadmap, the discussions underscored the importance of good governance, and building more inclusive societies.
Incoming AU Chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, outlined regional priorities to achieve the Agenda 2063, including, supporting regional integration, industrialization, and trade and investment, and strengthening women’s economic empowerment, in line with the launch of the AU Decade of Financial Inclusion for Women. The Summit adopted enhanced commitments towards this end, including plans to allocate 25% of public procurement to women-owned businesses, and the launch of the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF), which aims to provide capital to both first time and experienced fund managers, to invest in majority female-owned businesses. [ECA Press Releases on ARFSD 2020] [ARFSD 2020 Website] [ENB Meeting Coverage]