Ahead of the African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in March 2021, a workshop is convening on voluntary national reviews and voluntary local reviews underway in the region. An Africa-focused science, technology and innovation forum is among the other preparatory events taking place in the next few weeks.
The ARFSD will take place in a hybrid format (mix of in-person and virtual meetings) from 1-4 March 2021, in Brazzaville, Congo. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Forum is designed to help participants explore and propose concrete solutions to enable countries to rebuild from COVID-19 in a way that also advances implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
The Forum aims to: provide key messages to the July 2021 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) as the “collective inputs of Africa”; increase Member States’ and stakeholders’ capacity to design and implement policies to support the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063; and support the 11 African countries who will present voluntary national reviews (VNRs) to the 2021 HLPF. The Forum also aims to strengthen and raise the profile of voluntary local reviews (VLRs), in which cities and local governments report on progress achieved at the municipal level towards the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
The 11 African countries conducting VNRs for 2021 are: Angola (first review), Cabo Verde (second review), Chad (second review), Djibouti (first review), Egypt (third review), Madagascar (second review), Namibia (second review), Niger (third review), Sierra Leone (third review), Tunisia (second review), and Zimbabwe (second review).
The ARFSD in March 2021 will include a roundtable on VNRs as well as a roundtable on VLRs, highlighting local governments’ efforts to promote the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063 amid COVID-19.
The Forum’s attention to voluntary local reviews stems from the 2020 ARFSD, at which African governments noted the particular benefits of conducting sustainable development reviews at subnational levels. Participants concluded that VLRs are important tools for meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement and mobilization to advance the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. They noted that by VLR processes engage with grassroots stakeholders who can then help advance the sustainable development process. Member States who conduct VNRs were requested to integrate VLRs into them, and to establish local review mechanisms.
The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) which is organizing the ARFSD and preparatory events, notes that it has been assisting local governments in preparing local reviews, and is extending the initiative to help other local stakeholders.
A preparatory workshop on African VNRs and VLRs will take place from 26-27 February 2021. The workshop concept notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has “radically changed the development landscape for the 11 countries preparing to submit voluntary national reviews in 2021,” adding to the significant challenges that existed before the pandemic.
Another segment of the Forum will focus on science, technology and innovation in Africa contributing to the SDGs, drawing on input from the third ARSTI Forum convening on 25-26 February 2021. The organizers note that it will differ from the previous two sessions of the Forum, with a focus on four key areas for helping Africa accelerate and scale up progress to meet the SDGs: STI Policy Design, Implementation and Evaluation for the Sustainable Development Goals; Leveraging emerging technologies for sustainable developed; Healthcare technologies for improved healthcare outcomes in Africa; Research and Innovation Funding in Africa.
The 2021 AFRSD will also include a capacity development workshop for the Major Groups and other stakeholders in Africa, to help them prepare for the 2021 HLPF. An objective of the workshop is to advance dialogue and consensus on steps to address the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while accelerating implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, with a particular focus on the nine SDGs that will be considered at the 2021 HLPF. [Webpage for African STI forum] [VNR workshop concept note] [Webpage for VNR workshop] [Concept note for ARFSD] [ARFSD website]