The development of Africa was spotlighted at a key UN meeting on Wednesday, with attention focused on advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.
Despite being “rich with human and natural resources and enormous untapped economic and social potential,” General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid told the high-level The Africa We Want dialogue that the continent “still faces challenges” in realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Africa today is a region that has adopted and pursued a transformational agenda towards sustainable development, and is chartering a path towards prosperity, unity, peace, and integration,” said the senior UN official.
Noting its commitments throughout the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Agenda 2063, and the SDGs, he said, “we are moving in the right direction, but we still need to do more”.
Describing Africa’s sustainable development as a “priority” for the UN and international community, he said collective action had often fallen short on delivery.
The Assembly President urged everyone to recommit to sustainable development on the continent, assess where action is lacking, foster progress, and fulfil existing commitments while generating new ones “that reflect our ever-changing world”.
“With resolve, continued commitment, perseverance and support from the international community and the UN system,” The Africa We Want could become a reality, he concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, his deputy, Amina Mohammed confirmed that the UN shares the AU’s vision of a continent shaped by its own narrative, informed by its own citizens, and representing a dynamic force on the world stage.
However, the pandemic, climate change and the war in Ukraine have placed at risk previous development gains.
She outlined measures to tackle these challenges, maintaining that Africa’s goals are still within reach.
To get there however, mindsets must change and the triple crisis must be turned into an opportunity.
Collen Kelapile, President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and co-organizer of the session, called it “both timely and relevant”.
He advocated for “collective action and international solidarity to address the looming threat of food insecurity and famine…[and] the impacts of the Ukraine war on energy and the economy”.
“The silver lining here is that there is an unprecedented opportunity for Africa to step up to these challenges, speed up its industrialization and economic diversification, and integrate itself further upstream in global supply chains through increased value addition at source,” spelled out the ECOSOC chief.
Noting that by investing in human capital, every African can “earn a fair income, live a healthy life, and contribute to society,” he encouraged the participants to “harness its demographic dividend” and empower the region’s youth and women.
Investing in women and youth will “put the continent on track to realize the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, as well as the aspirations and targets espoused in Agenda 2063,” said Mr. Kelapile.
In closing, he welcomed initiatives of the AU, UN, international and regional financial institutions and others to scale up their support for transformative change in Africa.