Trade Unions at the 2017 UNECA Regional Forum on Sustainable Development Goals

26 May 2017 26 May 2017
Keywords : Reports ATUDN

The third session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD 3) took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 17-19 May 2017. Held in preparation for the 2017 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the Forum convened under the theme, “Ensuring inclusive and sustainable growth and prosperity for all”

All in all, the forum was billed as a success for the African trade unions because the delegation played a critical role in defining the outcome document and ensuring that all trade union key messages are duly incorporated.

Having arrived in Addis Ababa on the 15th of May, the delegation held a strategy meeting on the 16th of May. Key messages were established and some practical approaches were agreed upon, namely:

To split into three thematic groups (1) poverty, (2) gender and (3) Infrastructure/Structural Transformation);
To adopt active roles within those thematic groups and take on responsibilities where possible (volunteering to take notes, to be a reporter etc.);
To hold side-meetings with key officials from UNECA and governments to lobby for the inclusion of our key messages.

ITUC-Africa ATUDN delegation comprise of Tendai Makanza (SATUCC), Charles Omanga (COTU), Stephan Mwaiko (EATUC), Chris Uyot (NLC), Naome Chakanya (LEDRIZ), Nouwossan Komlan (UNSIT), Alex Nkosi (ITUC-Africa) and Amoussou Coovi Anselme (CSA).

As detailed in the International Institute for Sustainable Development’s ENB daily reports (original available here).

The first day of the ARFSD 3 was dedicated to preparatory events: the Tenth Session of the Committee on Sustainable Development (CSD-10); and a Preparatory and Capacity Development Workshop for Major Groups and other Stakeholders. CSD-10 reviewed implementation of the 2016–2017 work programme of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) sub-programme on innovations, technologies and managing Africa’s natural resources.

The Preparatory and Capacity Building Workshop for Major Groups and other Stakeholders met to brief Major Groups and other Stakeholders on the follow-up and review process of the identified Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2017–2019, as well as review the African regional report on implementation progress. Delegates also took part in a roundtable session and six breakout groups in order to share experiences and lessons learned on the priority goals for this year’s HLPF. Specific issues highlighted included: decent work as a cross-cutting issue among the SDGs; creating data collection infrastructure; accountability; and, “domesticating” international laws and agreements.

Plenary meetings began on the second day of the ARFSD 3. Following the opening statements, a high-level panel was held on the challenges and opportunities in achieving inclusive growth and prosperity. Messages emerging from this session included: the need for increased gender sensitivity; the importance of education for sustainable development; the need for data to monitor progress in implementation; and the role regional economic communities play in implementation of the SDGs. They also elected the Bureau for the 2017 session and adopted the agenda.

In the afternoon, delegates heard updates on progress in implementation of the SDGs and the goals of African Union Commission (AUC) Agenda 2063. They also heard a presentation on the framework for monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the two Agendas prepared by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the AUC. Delegates then took part in a round table on peer learning and the exchange of experience and lessons learned in the implementation of the two Agendas.

Delegates gathered in the morning of the third and final day to take part in parallel sessions on the six sub-themes of the Forum: eradicating all forms of poverty in Africa; ending hunger and achieving food security in Africa; ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all; promoting gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls; building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and innovation; and, conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. Reporting back on the parallel sessions began in the morning and continued into the afternoon, including providing initial comments on the draft key messages. The results of these discussions fed into the key messages of ARFSD 3.

Key messages discussed by the delegates included: economic growth that creates decent jobs is necessary to eradicate poverty; hunger should be considered as a national and regional security issue; governments should ensure fair and mandatory public financing to build universal and equitable health coverage; gender issues should be reflected in national integrated plans for Agenda 2030 and the African Union Commission’s (AUC) Agenda 2063; green industrialisation provides an opportunity for Africa to leapfrog and be competitive in global value chains; and, that sustainable development and poverty alleviation in Africa will depend on sustainable and optimal management of natural capital, including oceans, seas, and marine resources.

Following an adjournment to incorporate the comments and recommendations made and allow time for national consultations, delegations reconvened in the early evening to consider a revised draft. Following discussion, Member States were asked to submit their comments and reservations on the document by Wednesday, 24 May 2017. Delegates adopted the key messages, with this proviso. ARFSD 3 was called to a close at 8:55 pm.

A full report will be available soon.

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