Advancing sustainable development: UNDP at the 10th Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

May 20, 2024
UNDP Africa

Addis Ababa, 20 May 2024 — The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and other UN agencies successfully hosted the 10th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD). The event took place from 22 to 25 April 2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, convening over 1,700 participants online and in person to drive the continent’s sustainable development agenda. 

Themed ‘Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, of the African Union and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crisis’, the first session featured keynote reflections by the Minister for Planning and Development of Ethiopia, Fitsum Assefa. Opening statements were delivered by the Minister for Hydraulics, Sanitation and the Environment of Niger, Maizama Abdoulaye; the Executive Secretary of UNECA, Claver Gatete; the AUC Deputy Chairperson, Monique Nsanzabaganwa; the Prime Minister of Uganda, Robinah Nabbanja and the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed. 

The Deputy Secretary General noted that the high cost of borrowing in Africa was a major impediment to sustainable development. “Total debt service accounted for a staggering 47.5% of government revenue in sub-Saharan Africa last year, crowding out expenditure on essential services as well as investments in the continent’s future,” she remarked. She highlighted the African Continental Free Trade Area and the single African air transport market as game changers, poised to drive economic growth and integration across the continent.

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The forum kicked off with the High-Level Dialogue on Carbon Markets. “This first continental policy dialogue on the carbon market will unlock Africa's potential and leverage its natural capital for innovative green financing,” explained Yacoub El-Hillo, Regional Director of the UN Development Coordination Office AfricaIt will advance the continent's quest to become a leader in home-grown climate solutions and contribute towards a common position … that will serve the best interests for Africa.”

With Africa being disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change, discussants on agreed on the urgent need for collective action. “There is a significant lack of understanding regarding the benefits of carbon markets and its negotiations. Ensuring fair and accurate negotiations for Africa and implementing mechanisms to channel resources towards the most critical development strategies are crucial to advancing sustainable development,” stated Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa.

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Another ARFSD highlight was the regional launch of the UNDP Human Development Report. Themed ‘Breaking the Gridlock: Reimagining Cooperation in a Polarized World’, the launch facilitated discussions on enhancing cooperation to advance human development across the continent. Speakers focused on innovative strategies to tackle global and regional challenges, emphasizing climate resilience, economic integration and strengthening institutional frameworks. “Increasing climate financing and technology transfer is crucial to support adaptation efforts and low-carbon development. 

With the ECOWAS resilience strategy that we are developing in collaboration with UNDP, we are confident in the unwavering capacity and determination of the people of West Africa to build a better future for all,” said Fatou Sow Sarr, Commissioner for Human Development and Social Affairs of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS).

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The Africa Youth Consultative Forum was another key event, with participants focusing on empowering youth and amplifying their voices in sustainable development. Recognizing youth as key agents of change, the forum provided a platform for young leaders to articulate their perspectives, share innovative solutions and advocate for their inclusion in decision-making processes. Discussions encompassed youth entrepreneurship, education and the role of technology in driving positive change. 

Complementing the discussions, the ARFSD Knowledge Fair showcased innovative projects and partnerships driving sustainable development across Africa. From renewable energy initiatives to community-based conservation efforts, the exhibition demonstrated the diversity and impact of UNDP and other UN agencies' interventions. Visitors had the opportunity to interact with project representatives, learn about best practices and explore opportunities for collaboration.

As Africa continues its development journey, the insights and partnerships forged at the ARFSD will be instrumental in shaping policies and initiatives to keep building a resilient and prosperous Africa, leaving no one behind.

For more details, read the Draft Summary and Key Messages and the ARFSD Newsletter

About UNDP 

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.  

Media inquiries

Ayda Labassi, Digital Communications Officer, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, 
Mariam Njai, Communications Analyst, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa,