The Regional Forums on Sustainable Development convened by the five United Nations regional commissions, including the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, provide an ideal space for regional reflection on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), facilitating peer learning and the exchange of good practices, authorities and UN officials agreed today at a meeting that took place in New York.
The parallel event Accelerating Sustainable Development- Regional assistance for translating the SDGs into national action was organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in conjunction with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), in the framework of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which concludes on Wednesday 19th at UN headquarters.
“In the process of developing and refining their national voluntary reviews on progress on the SDGs, countries are increasingly looking for peer support at the regional level to assess their progress with neighboring countries, with whom they often share the same trans-border challenges,” explained Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, at the meeting’s opening.
“The regional forums provide a platform for frank discussion and exchange of experiences regarding these challenges. In this sense, our regional commissions can contribute to closing the asymmetries between countries,” emphasized the UN high representative.
With moderation by Nabeel Munir, Vice President of the UN Economic and Social Council, the event also heard presentations by Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico; Lahcen Daoudi, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of General Affairs and Governance of Morocco; Huseyn Huseynov, National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development of Azerbaijan; Gervais Tchaou Meatchi, Director of Planning and Development Policy of the Ministry of Planning and Development of Togo; and Timotej Šooš, Slovenia Development Strategy Lead in the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy.
Participation on behalf of the regional commissions included Olga Algayerova, ECE Executive Secretary; Mohamed Ali Alhakim, ESCWA Executive Secretary; Kaveh Zahedi, ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary, and Aida Opoku-Mensah, Special Advisor to the ECA Executive Secretary, among other representatives.
The Vice Minister of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights of Mexico, Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, was in charge of presenting the key conclusions and recommendations of the first meeting of the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, held at the end of April of this year in Mexico City under the auspices of ECLAC.
“We need to measure progress with indicators. The first challenge in our region is to develop specific indicators, comparable across countries, and to identify the necessary requirements to strengthen capacities related to this task. We need to measure poverty and understand how programs aimed at surmounting this scourge are benefitting our people,” pointed out Ruiz Cabañas.
The HLPF brings together representatives from UN Member States, civil society, the private sector, international organizations, specialized agencies and academia, among other stakeholders.
In this year’s session, 11 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean are presenting their Voluntary National Reviews: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Uruguay and in 2018, the Bahamas, Jamaica and Paraguay will present theirs. Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela had their turn in 2016.
“Comprehensive follow-up and review is critical for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the global, regional and national levels. The Voluntary National Reviews (VRNs) are key to the countries’ fortifying their policies and institutions, mobilizing and facilitating participation by multiple interested stakeholders and establishing virtuous partnerships. In order to attain the SDGs, the process of supporting countries after the presentation of their reviews is also essential,” Bárcena affirmed.
“But this does not mean just the addition of 193 national development plans. There are public goods, such as climate and peace and security that must be approached collectively. Combatting tax evasion is another area where we must work together. What will we do after the VNRs? We have to anticipate the future challenges,” concluded the United Nations high official.