By Anyway Yotamu.
The Sixth African Regional Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) kicked off today in the resort town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, with at least 3 000 delegates expected to attend the event.
This is an increase from 1 500 that were initially expected to attend. The event is being sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Professor Paul Mavima who is the host Minister on Sunday February 23rd met UNECA Executive Secretary Ms Vera Songwe and expressed satisfaction with preparations of the conference.
“We are quite happy with what has been done so far in preparation for the forum. We also briefly discussed the agenda of the forum and we are quite happy about the preparations that have taken place so far,” he said.
“This is a very important meeting; its putting the spotlight on Zimbabwe and it’s also going to talk about where Africa is in terms of the implementation of the SDGs.
“This forum is oversubscribed. We were looking at initially about 1 500 delegates, but now indications are that we could reach as many as 3 000 so we are very happy with the interest that has been shown. It’s not just an interest on the forum, but also an interest on Zimbabwe as a country,’ said Professor Mavima.
United Nations (UN) Deputy secretary general, Ms Amina Mohammed is already in the tourist destination town. The meeting is set to discuss how the continent has fared in implementing SDGs.
“In Zimbabwe, as in Africa, there are a number of issues that we should worry about. But having said that, both in Zimbabwe and in Africa, there are some big strides we have made, but we need to look at areas where we are falling short so that we pull up our socks and get the necessary assistance in order to make sure that we meet the targets of the SDGs.
“We will be looking at everything and will highlight the areas we are falling short and the risks associated with, for example, climate change which can influence the smooth implementation of the SDGs,” he said.
In her remarks, Ms Songwe said the forum was a big event on their calendar.
“We are happy to be having the African Regional Sustainable Development Forum here. As UNECA, this is one of our big events and having the Government of Zimbabwe hosting the United Nations is a privilege.
“The main reason why we are here is to launch what we are calling the UN decade of action 2020 to 2030. We would like that no African is left behind as we try to develop and ensure prosperity for all. Prosperity means we create jobs for both women and youth,” Ms Songwe said.