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Stronger partnerships crucial for successful implementation of SDGs in light of COVID-19

The Bureau of the Sixth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) has met and adopted an action plan establishing key priorities for implementing key messages from the forum that was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in February.

Chaired by chaired Zimbabwe’s Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Mr. Paul Mavima, this was the Bureau’s first meeting since the adoption of the Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development in Africa. 

The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world’s biggest challenges, ranging from poverty and gender to climate change, inequality and closing the finance gap.

With the coronavirus pandemic raging on the continent, members of the bureau recognized the unprecedented and serious challenges being caused by COVID-19 and noted with grave concern the growing loss of human lives and huge negative economic and social impacts of the crisis on the continent.

Africa, the agreed, was likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic given the region’s underlying vulnerabilities. 

The Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) recent analysis on the impact of the pandemic estimates that economic growth on the continent is expected to drop from 3.2 percent to 1.8 percent. As of March 2020, a decline of 1.4 percentage points is expected from the effects of COVID-19. Africa’s Finance Ministers have called for an initial support package of US$ 100 billion in 2020 to cushion their nations from impacts of the pandemic.

The bureau agreed that COVID-19 reinforced the need for stronger global and regional partnerships if the sustainable development goals are to be fully achieved and to build resilience to social, economic and environmental shocks and calamities. 

Member States and other actors were urged to take urgent and collective measures to curb the spread of COVID-19, provide the necessary support to affected communities and address the social and economic implications of the pandemic.

Bureau members, Zimbabwe (Chair), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Liberia and Morocco, pledged their full commitment to expand outreach, and to take and promote concrete actions in following-up and implementing the outcomes of the sixth ARFSD. 

The action plan, which will be implemented with the support of ECA, regional organizations and the rest of the UN Development system, recognizes the challenges and need for quality and timely data and statistics for evidence-based planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting on the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.  

The Bureau is expected to finalize by August, the strategic framework of the Solidarity Fund for Statistical Development in Africa, as agreed in the Marrakech Declaration of the Fifth session of the regional forum; and develop a regional strategy to operationalize the Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development and key messages of the sixth regional forum by November 2020.

Outcomes of the Victoria Falls forum will be conveyed to the 2020 meeting of the High-level political forum on sustainable development to be convened under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in July.

The Bureau committed to contribute to strengthening the capacity of member States and catalyse concrete multi-level actions to follow-up and implement outcomes of the regional forum by carrying out advocacy campaigns at key conferences and other events at global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.

Members also agreed that they will take forward and expand initiatives to strengthen the capacity of subnational authorities in selected countries to conduct Voluntary Local Review to better domesticate and bolster local action to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.

They requested the ECA, which supported the virtual meeting as the Secretariat, and its partners to develop a monitoring and evaluation tool that will enable tracking and comparability of progress of implementation across countries in the region.

The ARFSD is an intergovernmental forum convened by the ECA in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and agencies of the UN system. 

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