‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets and adopted on 25 September 2015 by Heads of State and Government at a special UN summit through United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/Res/70/1. The Agenda provides a shared global vision towards sustainable development for all. The 2030 Agenda is pivotal to the developing nations.

Non-Aligned Movement, being the largest collective voice of the Global South, has reiterated the continued unwavering commitment of the Movement to further translating ambitions set out in the 2030 Agenda into real actions. NAM has stressed the crucial importance of partnership for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals and called for coordination and sharing of experience among nations that can boost the capacity of countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In this context, NAM has appreciated the role of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD).

ARFSD, convened by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in collaboration with regional organizations and the United Nations System, seeks to advance the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda and the goals set out in Africa’s Agenda 2063. ARFSD was mandated by resolutions 930 (XLVIII) and 939 (XLIX) of the Joint Annual Meetings of the African Union Specialized Technical Committee on Finance, Monetary Affairs, Economic Planning and Integration, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

ARFSD provides a platform for engaging and mobilizing stakeholders to strengthen their commitment to action and garner international support for efforts to translate the SDGs and Agenda 2063 into measurable and shared gains for the continent.

So far, five meeting of the ARFSD have been convened. The first meeting, convened from 16-18 June 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia focussed on sustainable consumption and production as well as highlighted the problems faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The second meeting convened from 7-19 May 2016, in Cairo, Egypt, under the theme ‘Ensuring inclusive and integrated implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063.’ The third meeting was held on 18-19 May 2017, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and addressed six sub-themes, namely: eradicating all forms of poverty; ending hunger and achieving food security; healthy lives and promoting well-being for all; gender equality and empowerment of women and girls; building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and innovation; and conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. The fourth meeting convened from 2-4 May 2018 in Dakar, Senegal, and discussed SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation); SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production); SDG 15 (Life on Land); and SDG 17 (Strengthening Means of Implementation and the Partnership for Sustainable Development).

The fifth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 5) convened in Marrakech, Morocco from 16-18 April 2019, under the theme ‘empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality. Attended by more than 800 participants from governments, intergovernmental organizations, and major groups and other stakeholders, the fifth ARFSD discussed SDG 4 (quality education) stressing the importance of strengthening curriculum to include aspects of sustainable development, SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) recommending enhanced sharing of experience though South-South cooperation; SDG 10 (reduced inequalities) calling for sharing of best practices to remove inequality and for transformation of tax system, SDG 13 (climate action) recommending enhancing science-policy interfaces, calling for resource mobilization to support climate mitigation and adaption measures, and including climate change in primary, secondary and tertiary education; SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) raising the issue of improving governance, recommending increased efforts to curb corruption and tax evasion; investing in human and institutional capacities; resolving conflict through dialogue; involving human rights organizations to enhance peace efforts; and improving financial resources to limit transboundary conflicts, and enhance border security; and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) calling combat to illicit financial flows and tax evasion and ensuring effective engagement of the stakeholders.

The African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development is thus an important mechanism that mainstreams the regional and global development agendas of Sustainable Development to the developing African countries.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava