By Maxwell Awumah || Courtesy UNECA
Curtains over the Sixth Session of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-6) has been drawn on the conference with a call on all stakeholders to redouble efforts to achieve the recommendations of the conference in a decade of action.
Professor Paul Y. Mavima, Minister, Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare, who assumed the Chair of Bureau performed the closing on behalf of the government and people of Zimbabwe and said Africa was at the crossroads and all human and material resources needed to be harnessed to win the SDGs fight to give the continent a respite to succeed.
He said Africa is not on track to achieve the SDGs and that window of opportunity within the next decade 2020-2030 offers a platform for the decisive action to come to fruition.
‘’We count on all partners and member states to continue to build an empowered, inclusive, equal, transformed and prosperous Africa.’’
Prof Mavima said this is a watershed and a defining moment for the continent whose challenges and opportunities are interlinked and inter-related.
He thanked ECA, the convener of the conference and AU, UN and partners for giving the opportunity to Zimbabwe to host this incisive event full of hope for the continent.
Mr Oliver Chinganya, Director, African Centre for Statistics, Economic Commission for Africa in a remark said many sound ideas, solutions and cases were highlighted and strategies and plans to scale-up actions were reached.
He said the world has listened loudly and believed the needed support to anchor the education of every child and adult to have access to quality education, healthcare, guaranteed food security, energy, shelter, communication and securing the peace has been explored.
‘’We may not be able to provide these but we must start today. For tomorrow is too late.’’
He said for the first time the youth were given a platform, which shaped the discourse positively with the conference continuing to break many records following number of delegates, which surpassed 3,000 people compared to the last year’s figure of 800.
Mr Chinganya said the extinction and dying of elephants through droughts, hydro-power stations almost drying up with its economic and social consequences needed integrated approaches for humanity to survive.
He said the journey has just begun and the Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development in Africa has been born.
‘’We need to ensure that the efforts are equal to or greater than the challenges we wish to address.’’
‘’We have over 220 million people classified as hungry, one0fifthof children out of school, youth unemployment continues to grow and over half of the population without electricity, with current trajectory suggesting nine out of 10 classified extremely poor by 2030, and these are the enormity of Africa’s challenges.’’
He commended the Zimbabwean government under the leadership of President Emmerson D. Mnangagwa, sister UN and AU agencies, private sector and other development partners for making ARFSD-6 a success.
The Conference adopted a draft ‘’Victoria Falls Declaration on UN Decade of Action and Delivery for the Sustainable Development in Africa’’ which include the AU-UN frameworks moving into concrete actions in order to make a difference in people’s living at the regional and country levels in realising the SDGs.
It called for integrating and reporting tools to provide good frameworks for unifying the SDGs, Agenda 2030 and 2063 and national development plans, which must be rolled out at country levels.
It called for expansion of access to quality education and inclusive education for people with disabilities including national-level budgeting to address the practical needs and strategies.
It suggested the harnessing of the youthful demographic dividends with voice and power to participation for inclusiveness.
The recommendation said the UN must support and strengthen the capacities of AU blueprint mechanisms for the promotion of peaceful solutions such as the African Governance Architecture, the African Peace and Security Architecture to silence the guns for development to flourish.
It noted the existential threat posed by climate change and the urgent need to raise the ambition on climate action to avert catastrophic impacts of the phenomenon across multiple goals.
Meanwhile, in an interview Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of ECA said the declaration would the biggest and the heaviest document to deliver the SDGs and called on member states to increase their vision, scale-up, accelerate and leverage on resources at all levels towards achieving their collective aspirations.
Zimbabwe government would present these on behalf of Africa to the high-level political forum on Sustainable Development under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council at its meeting in New York, later in the year.
Meanwhile Congo Brazzaville has won the hosting rights for the ARFSD-7 according to conference