A welcome ceremony is held at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, as medical equipment donated by China arrives in Ghana, on April 6, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)
Africa needs stronger global and regional partnerships to fully achieve sustainable development goals and build resilience to social, economic and environmental shocks and calamities in light of coronavirus pandemic.
Agreement on that statement was made by the members of the Bureau of the Sixth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, who adopted an action plan establishing key priorities for implementing the messages from the forum that was held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in February.
In the virtual meeting, bureau members said there is need for the partnerships as the continent looks to implement the declaration of the Decade of Action for Sustainable Development in Africa.
The Decade of Action calls for accelerating sustainable solutions to all the world's biggest challenges, ranging from poverty and gender bias to climate change, inequality and closing the financial gap.
The members of the bureau recognized the unprecedented and serious challenges caused by coronavirus and noted with grave concern the growing loss of human lives and the huge negative economic and social impacts on the continent.
They said Africa is likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic, given the region's underlying vulnerabilities. So far, the coronavirus has infected over 10,000 people and killed over 400 across 52 of the continent's 54 countries.
The Economic Commission for Africa's recent analysis on the impact of the pandemic estimates economic growth on the continent is expected to drop from 3.2 percent to 1.8 percent.
Africa's finance ministers have called for an initial support package of $100 billion in 2020 to cushion their nations from the pandemic's impacts.
The bureau urged member states and other actors to take urgent and collective measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, provide the necessary support to affected communities and address the social and economic implications of the pandemic.
Bureau members, including Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Liberia and Morocco, pledged their full commitment to expand outreach, and to take and promote concrete actions in following-up and implementing the outcomes of the sixth session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development.
The action plan, which will be implemented with the support of the Economic Commission for Africa regional organizations and the rest of the UN development system, recognizes the challenges and need for quality and timely data and statistics for evidence-based planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting on the 2030 Agenda and the African Union's Agenda 2063.
The bureau is expected to finalize the strategic framework of the Solidarity Fund for Statistical Development in Africa, as agreed in the Marrakech declaration of the fifth session of the regional forum.
It's also expected to develop a regional strategy to make operational the Victoria Falls Declaration on the Decade of Action and delivery for sustainable development and key messages of the sixth regional forum by November.
The bureau committed to contributing to strengthening the capacity of member states and act as a catalyst for concrete, multi-level actions to follow-up and implement outcomes of the regional forum. This will be done by carrying out advocacy campaigns at key conferences and other events at global, regional, sub-regional and national levels.
Members also agreed that they will take expand initiatives to strengthen the capacity of subnational authorities in selected countries to conduct voluntary local review. This will better domesticate and bolster local action to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.
They requested the Economic Commission for Africa, which supported the virtual meeting as the secretariat, and its partners develop a monitoring and evaluation tool that will enable tracking and comparability of progress across countries in the region.