Opening ‘Africa Week’ at UN, Ban highlights importance of partnerships with and for the continent.Guru Maajabu
Noting the socio-economic progress made by African countries and their centrality in major sustainable development discourses, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called for continued support to the continent, particularly for strengthening good governance and for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“An age-old African word of wisdom reminds us: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together’,” said Mr. Ban in his remarks at the inauguration of a series of events focused on the African continent known informally as the Africa Week.
“The road to 2030 is long and arduous. If we are to achieve our collective global vision of delivering a life of dignity for all and leaving no one behind, we all need to work together in unison and with vigour,” he added. Held this year under the theme Strengthening Partnerships for Inclusive Sustainable Development, Good Governance, Peace and Stability in Africa the 2016 Africa Week will, among others, highlight the importance of diverse partnerships for the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda and African Union’s Agenda 2063, including partnerships between the UN, the wider international community and the continent’s regional and subregional organizations.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General recalled that UN has worked tirelessly to strengthen peace and security in Africa and noted the Organization’s support for implementation of the African Peace Security Architecture in moving ahead with the African Union initiative to ‘silence the guns by 2020,’ as well as working alongside it to consolidate peace in the Great Lakes, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and other troubled spots. He, however, also noted that conflicts in South Sudan, Sudan and in other countries continue to cause horrific suffering, with impacts ranging far and wide across the continent. Mr. Ban also drew attention to events that have drawn the credibility of some elections on the continent into question and thereby pushing countries to the precipice of conflict.
“The international community needs to support African countries, working with all relevant national and regional stakeholders, including the African Peer Review Mechanism, to improve good governance, and the conduct of elections and to ensure that civil society has the freedom to play its vital role,” he said.
Also, highlighting the threat of climate change, Mr. Ban said that African countries did little to contribute to climate change but would be among those most affected by its impact. He expressed that with entry of the Paris Agreement into force on 4 November, the world will have a framework, including for financing and technology transfer, that can help Africa to mitigate and adapt to this threat.
The UN chief also noted the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation drew attention to recent initiatives such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), where billions of dollars for the continent’s development had been pledged.
Also addressing the meeting, Peter Thomson, President of the UN General Assembly underscored the importance of the imminent entry into force of the Paris Agreement and particularly for Africa’s prospects for sustainable development. “The 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and Paris Agreement together provide humanity with a universal masterplan that – if implemented urgently, effectively and at scale – will transform our world, by eliminating extreme poverty, building peaceful and inclusive societies, increasing prosperity, empowering women and girls, and combating climate change,” he said in his own remarks today.
Welcoming the alignment of Agenda 2063 with the 2030 Agenda, he added: “It is a clear demonstration of African States’ commitment to driving coherent, coordinated, effective, efficient, and sustainable development.”
Mr. Thomson also highlighted the importance implementing these development agenda. He also said that the SDG Implementation Team he set up in his Office after assuming the presidency of the Assembly will work to drive the implementation of the global goals.
He also called for fostering open and inclusive societies with accountable institutions to sustain as well as to prevent and counter threats to peace and security, and stressed the importance of strengthened strategic partnerships between countries, within regional and sub-regional organizations, and with the UN, to ensure coherence and coordination of efforts.
“In many ways, Africa’s journey has been the UN journey. And as we embark upon our universal effort to transform our world, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Africa in this effort,” said the President of the General Assembly, noting: “A great deal of work lies ahead, but I am steadfastly confident that sustainable peace and sustainable development are within reach. Indeed, as the great Mandela once said ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’”
Africa Week, which this year runs from 10 to 14 October at UN Headquarters, traditionally comprises high-level discussions and events held on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual consideration of the landmark New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), and other vital issues concerning the continent.