Africa Regional Review Meeting enhances the will to accelerate sustainable development in least developed countries
The Africa Regional Review Meeting which Malawi hosted this week (22 to 26 February) has generated concrete ideas on how to accelerate sustainable development in least developed countries (LDCs).
Speaking during the closing session of the meeting, which was held in preparation for the Fifth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries in Qatar next year, Malawi Vice President, Saulos Chilima, called on LDCs to improve on action to achieve agreed goals on sustainable development.
“LDCs have to embrace structural transformation which entails the transitioning from agriculture to manufacturing; increasing innovations to utilise our abundant resources; and focusing on value creation,” said Chilima.
He also said the international community should accelerate financial inclusion and access to resources to build resilience against shocks in LDCs.
On the impact of COVID-19 in LDCs, Chilima said: “We are hopeful that we will be finding innovative ways to build back better, cleaner and stronger.”
UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, said LDCs have the power to solve their challenges.
“Building back better will be a challenge, but there is hope when people in countries work together,” said ‘Utoikamanu. “The pandemic also presents an opportunity to do things differently and accelerate true transformation, for example, transforming the digital divide into a digital bridge.”
Speaking earlier during the closing session, Malawi Minister of Youth and Sports, Ulemu Msungama, briefed delegates on the Side Event on Youth and SDG Acceleration, which Malawi Government and the UN in Malawi co-hosted at the meeting on Tuesday (23 February).
Msungama said the side event demonstrated that LDCs will not achieve sustainable development if the majority of their populations, including the youth, are not included in development processes.
“Governments should meaningfully engage young people and provide a conducive environment for youth to participate at all levels of decision-making,” he said. “Governments should put in place deliberate systems and platforms that can strengthen and retain engagement, social contact, dialogue and trust with young people.”
During the side event, UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said youth action and voice are critical to acceleration of the SDG agenda in LDCs.
“The only way to achieve the change that we need is through ensuring that youth are at the forefront of development initiatives in LDCs,” said Torres. “The UN is determined to tap into the creativity and potential of young people to advance sustainable development.”
Over 900 delegates registered for the Africa Regional Review Meeting which had eight dialogue sessions on topics such as building peaceful, just and inclusive societies; mobilizing resources for sustainable development in African LDCs; and social and human development in African LDCs.
The report of the Africa Regional Review Meeting will be submitted to the 5th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries in Doha, Qatar, in January 2022 to feed into the development of a new Programme of Action to accelerate sustainable development in LDCs.
Development Coordination Officer, Programme Communications and Advocacy