Addis Ababa, March 10, 2021 (ECA) - Localizing the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is a firm foundation for accelerating progress across Africa.
This was a recurring message echoed by national and government officials at the seventh session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.
Addressing the urgency swift progress, Ms. Amina Mohamed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations said “Now is the time to reignite the Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals”. Likewise, the host government of the Republic of Congo, represented by its Minister of Tourism and Environment, Arlette Soudan Nonault, underscored the enormity of the task ahead with only 10 years to achieve the SDGs and 3 years to complete the first ten-year implementation plan for Agenda 2063.
Officials from across Africa stressed the potential of Voluntary Local Reviews in fostering local awareness, ownership and action on the Agenda 2030 and the Agenda 2063. They further recognized that such reviews enhance national and local coordination of priorities and policies towards the two agendas.
Addressing the forum, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Local Government, July Moyo, said that the voluntary local review undertaken in Harare and Victoria Falls had informed sub-national planning, priority investment and impact assessment.
He added that local reviews have a central role in advancing inclusion by ensuring that no community is left behind in the pursuit of the two agendas.
“Accelerating progress during this Decade of Action without strong local ownership and action is not possible,” said Ms. Vera Songwe, the ECA Executive Secretary.
She continued: “As such, it has become clear that the success of the two agendas rests firmly on the close involvement of local stakeholders, sub-national governments and other actors on the ground.
“There is no aspect of the two agendas where local governments do not play a central role. Local governments are at the front-line of planning, managing and financing the policies, strategies and investments necessary to achieve goals and targets across the board.”
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, no single country was on track to achieve the 2030 Agenda due to longstanding issues such as climate change and inequality.
Ms Songwe added: “Given the monumental task ahead to register progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in just a few years, it is now, more than ever, urgent to truly localize not just monitoring but also all aspects of implementation geared towards a resilient and inclusive future.”
The forum sought to explore practices and opportunities to scale up action on voluntary local reviews and to enhance the role of African cities and local governments in implementing both agendas.
In this vein, the ECA shared its draft ‘Africa Voluntary Local Reviews Guideline’ at the forum. Once completed, the guideline will help countries prepare local reviews, foster coherent reporting and enable peer learning.
Speaking at the forum, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, said: “These guidelines will be fundamental in supporting cities in developing their reviews through a common regional approach and support member states in gathering information at the local level.
“Voluntary national reviews will be critical for the review process of the New Urban Agenda that will be culminating at the high-level meeting called by the President of the General Assembly in April 2022.”
She described the high-level meeting as a “unique opportunity” to enhance the connection between national and local action for sustainable urban development while urging “more needs” to fully localize the SDGs.
In a statement at the forum, Secretary-General of the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, said local reviews are an “essential tool” for local people to lead on the two agendas.
He continued: “What is at stake is renegotiating trust between people and public institutions.”
Mr. Mbassi added that dialogue and development around voluntary reviews are about making local communities aware of the two agendas and mobilizing them in all aspects of implementation.
In Africa, voluntary local reviews have been gaining moment. Over the last few years, the ECA has supported five local African governments in preparing and presenting their local reviews.
Forum participants welcomed the ECA’s efforts in promoting voluntary local reviews in Africa. They further called for continued support for member states to undertaken more local reviews in coordination with voluntary national reviews.
In addition to government officials, participants included academics, UN delegates and representatives from regional bodies, non-profits and the private sector.
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