United Nations (UN) and African officials have called for an added sense of urgency and a different course of action in all regions, especially the African continent, as the world is not on track to meet the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Over the course of 2019, major scientific and analytical reviews made clear that the world is not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said here at the ongoing sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development attended by some 3,000 delegates from across the continent.
The year 2020 is an opportunity for the world to chart a different course of action to deliver the SDGs, she said, adding every region must take an added sense of urgency to attain the goals.
“Region by region, we will build momentum as the world enters the Decade of Action,” she said.
Mohammed said there is especially an urgent need for enhanced actions to implement the Agenda 2063, Africa’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development, noting that despite wide-ranging progress in many areas such as health, education, peace and security, the African continent remains plagued by high poverty levels.
“The absolute number of people living in poverty on the continent has been increasing since 2013, owing to high population growth rates. The number has now reached 428 million,” she said, stressing other issues including hunger, income inequality as well as youth unemployment.
“The nexus between climate change, hunger, terrorism, conflict and displacement is causing havoc and human suffering in many countries, not least in the Sahel and the Horn. It represents a tremendous challenge to the continent,” she said.
Mohammed stressed that the success of the SDGs depends on the success of the Agenda 2063, just in the same way China’s remarkable achievements in lifting its people out of poverty contributed to major advances under the UN Millennium Development Goals.
“Let us make no mistake. In Africa — as elsewhere — we need to accelerate the pace and scale of our collective action,” she said.
Echoing Mohammed, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Vera Songwe said at the forum that “we are not there yet as a continent in ensuring that we have sustainable development.”
Without the vibrant participation of business and the youth in the economy, Africa would take longer to achieve the SDGs, she said.
Africa’s progress on the SDGs was mixed, uneven and insufficient, said Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Kwesi Quartey.
“On many of these goals, variations across and within countries are large. Our financial requirements are even larger. Poverty rates are declining but the absolute number of people living in poverty continues to increase,” he said, adding the African Continental Free Trade Area launched last year could be an important momentum for inclusive and sustainable development on the continent.
“It is regrettable that generally, the funding gap for the SDGs in Africa remains large and weighs down on the attainment of the SDGs on the continent,” said Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He called on the African continent to redouble efforts in fighting corruption and enhancing peace and security, as well as to harness its agricultural, mining and private sector potential, implement robust strategies to fight climate change, invest in high technology and empower its informal sectors, so as to speed up achievement of the SDGs.
The four-day forum, which will end Thursday, is co-organized by the UNECA and the AUC, under the theme “2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.” Enditem