The panel, which was the highlight of the opening day of the ARFSD, was addressed by ministers led by the forum’s host Morocco under the topic; Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality: stepping up action to deliver the commitments contained in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, UN ECA said in a statement on Thursday.
Ministers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Nigeria held an interactive session and shared experiences and strategies aligned to the forum’s theme of empowering the continent’s population and ensuring inclusivity and equality.
Six of the 17 sustainable development goals, notably quality education, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, climate action, peace justice and strong institutions as well as partnerships for the attainment of the goals and corresponding aims of Agenda 2063, are the key focus of the continental forum. An in-depth review of the continent’s progress on SDGs is the main task of the forum.
Oliver Chinganya, the director of African Statistics Division at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), noted that there was need for African countries to put in place sectoral, industrial and investment policies targeting key growth segments and value chains that have high potential to create decent employment opportunities.
“Importantly, improving productivity within key economic sectors can be achieved through investing in technology upgrading, skills development and institutional capabilities,” Chinganya said. “Governments must scale up investments especially in infrastructure, education and skills.”
Ethiopia’s Science and Higher Education Minister, Afework Gizaw, emphasized the importance of increasing investments in science and technology to boost the quest on the attainment of sustainable development goals.
2019 is significant in the global development calendar as it marks the fourth year of the implementation of the sustainable development goals and the first time ever that the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals under the patronage of the General Assembly will be held in September.
Robert Chakanda, the Planning and Economic Development Minister of Sierra Leone, noted that observance of good governance practices was vital in the attainment of the SDGs and transformation of the continent.
“This forum is critical as the outcomes of the fifth session will be included in the 2019 session of the High Level political forum on sustainable development under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council which takes place in July.” Chinganya said.
Outcomes will also be used for policy advocacy, formulation and implementation at the regional and national levels, he said.
Nigeria’s Environment Minister noted that the regional forum also served as a barometer to identify obstacles hindering progress and catalyse best practices in actualizing the Agenda 2063 aspirations which mirror the SDGs.
Africa’s poor employment generation record, which is accompanied by negative labour and productivity growth, is an issue that policy makers, governments and civil society organisations attending the forum are discussing while seeking for tangible and wide-impact wealth generating solutions.