African States will have four days in February to reflect on sustainable development on the continent, as part of the sixth edition of the regional forum devoted to this subject. Zimbabwe, which will host the event, has been chosen at a time when the country is witnessing an increase in the number of disasters caused by climate change on its territory.
It is less than a month away from the sixth edition of the African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD). In 2020, the seaside resort of Vicotira Falls, Zimbabwe, will host this major event from the 24th to the 27th of February. The theme chosen for this edition is “2020-2030: a decade to achieve a transformed and prosperous Africa through the 2030 and 2063 action programme”. The objective of this event is to share experiences, learn and build consensus to accelerate the UN Agenda for Sustainable Development to 2030 and the African Union Agenda 2063. Two documents that give prominence to environmental issues, including SDGs 6 (access to safe water and sanitation), 7 (reliable, sustainable and affordable modern energy), 9, 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 13 (combating climate change).
The African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD) is a meeting that will enable participants to take stock of the continent’s situation in terms of the implementation of the SDGs, as Olivier Chinganya, Director of the ECA African Centre for Statistics, pointed out. This will therefore be the appropriate time to assess the progress of the SDGs across the continent, on the one hand, and to explore, deepen, share and agree on concrete actions to be taken together to improve African scores, on the other hand.
An opportunity for Zimbabwe, threatened by climatic conditions
As Zimbabwe prepares to welcome African leaders in February 2020, the country faces many challenges, exacerbated by climate change. According to the latest UN estimates, by 2020, about 7.7 million people will be at risk of starvation in Zimbabwe (just over half the population) due to climate change. Furthermore, in December 2019, nearly 50 drought-stricken elephants were counted in Zimbabwe’s parks. Also in 2019, Zimbabwe lost nearly $1 billion due to drought and Cyclone Idai. Cyclone Idai hit Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi in March 2019. So, as Zimbabwe’s Minister for Labour, Public Service and Social Welfare, Sekai Nzenza-Shand, finally acknowledged, the forum is taking place in Zimbabwe at a time “when we really want to focus on SDGs.”
The African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development (ARFSD) is an initiative of the African Economic Commission (ECA) in partnership with the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and UN agencies. The fifth edition of this forum was held in April 2019 in Morocco.