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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development
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Africa

Description

Stating the MDG Report 2015, "Africa made great strides towards the eight Millennium Development Goals. In many areas, especially related to health and education, the advance registered by Sub-Saharan Africa was the fastest among all developing regions. At the same time, the Northern part of the continent met many of the targets, including those on poverty and hunger reduction, universal primary education, children and mothers' health, as well as sanitation."

Nevertheless, many goals and targets have yet to be achieved:

  • In spite of the fact that the child mortality rate in Sub- Saharan Africa declined five times faster during 2005-2013 than it was 1990-1995, the region still detains the highest rate.
  • Furthermore, 70% of its population still suffers from lack of access to improved sanitation facility, 41% of its inhabitants still live, in 2015, with less than $1.25 a day and out of the 57 million of global out-of-school children of primary school age in 2015, 33 million are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • In the past two decades, Northern Africa has not registered any improvements in women’s access to paid employment, with women still holding less than one out of five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector.

Therefore, the Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that "progress made in the last 15 years has been uneven, particularly in Africa where some MDGs remained out of track " and reiterates the need to focus on this continent, by "recommitting ourselves to the full realization of all the MDGs, including the off-track MDGs, in particular by providing focused and scaled-up assistance to least developed countries and other countries in special situations, in line with relevant support programmes. The new Agenda builds on the Millennium Development Goals and seeks to complete what these did not achieve, particularly in reaching the most vulnerable."

In its target 4.b, the Agenda highlights the necessity "to substantially expand at global level the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes".

It is also committed, in its target 9.a, to "facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island developing States. Whereas, it its target 10.b it calls to encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes".

Background information

Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio (1992), sustainable development remained elusive for many African countries, with poverty being a major challenge and desertification, deforestation and climate change its main treats.

Furthermore, only 15% of the Sub-Saharan African rural population had access to electricity in 2012 and the continent sorely lacks important infrastructure investments. The absence of access to modern energy services is a grave obstacle to sustainable development, as recognized by the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, and contributes greatly to Africa’s poverty trap.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), launched by African heads of state in 2001, has represented the response of African countries to those treats and challenges. NEPAD has indeed aimed at providing a framework for sustainable development to be shared by all Africa's people, emphasizing the role of partnerships among African countries themselves and between them and the international community, and proposed a shared and common vision to eradicate poverty through sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

African governments also reinforced the pace of regional integration through the rationalization of existing regional economic communities, increasing the power of the African Union, especially in the field of security and peace management.

These efforts have been supported by the international community, with financial and technical contributions to regional communities and specific initiatives to foster African development. Thus, the Heavily Indebted and Poor Countries (HIPC) program was initiated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in 1996, providing debt relief and low-interest loans to reduce external debt repayments to sustainable levels. Nominal debt service relief under HIPC to the 29 countries that have reached their decision points has been estimated to amount to about US$62 billion, a significant share of which benefited Sub-Saharan African countries.

For the United Nations in particular, Africa has been a priority area, as illustrated by the establishment of the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) by the Secretary-General in 2003 and the reference to Africa's sustainable development as a cross-cutting issue in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (see chapter VIII) which emerged from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.

A growing emphasis is being placed on the Nexus approach to sustainable development, seeking to realize synergies from the links between development factors such as energy, health, education, water, food, gender, and economic growth. In this regard and as part of the follow up to the 2012 Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio+20, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), in collaboration with SE4All, UN-Energy and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), organized Global Conference on Rural Energy Access: A Nexus Approach to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dec 4 – 6, 2013.

For more information and documents on this topic, please visit this link.

 

Displaying 1 - 15 of 64
Title Type Date
Ghana Innovation Ecosystem Insights, Challenges and Opportunities Background documents 3-May-2023
Concept Note - Expert Group Meeting on SDG 10 Concept Notes 1-Feb-2019
A/73/255 - Implementation of United Nations environmental conventions Secretary-General Reports 25-Jul-2018
A/70/475/Add.1 - Follow-up to the Fourth United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries: report of the… Resolutions and decisions 24-Dec-2015
A/70/472/Add.1 - Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the… Resolutions and decisions 23-Dec-2015
A/70/472/Add. 5 - Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries… Resolutions and decisions 14-Dec-2015
A/70/230 - Implementation of United Nations environmental conventions Secretary-General Reports 31-Jul-2015
A/RES/69/291- Implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General on the… Resolutions and decisions 30-Jul-2015
Outcome Document of the Africa Regional Implementation Meeting for the Post-Rio+20 follow-up processes (… Outcome Documents 17-Dec-2013
TST Issues Brief: Needs of Countries in Special Situations – African Countries, Least Developed Countries,… Technical Support Team (TST) Issues Briefs 17-Oct-2013
A/68/260 - Protection of global climate for present and future generations of Humankind Implementation of the… Secretary-General Reports 24-Jul-2013
E/ECA/CFSSD/8/18/Rev.1 - Document final de la Réunion régionale d’application de l’Afrique en vue de la… Outcome Documents 21-Nov-2012
E/ECA/CFSSD/8/18/Rev.1 - Outcome Document of the Africa Regional Implementation Meeting for the Twentieth Session of… Outcome Documents 21-Nov-2012
Nairobi Statement Other documents 10-Apr-2012
List of Participants Logistics 10-Apr-2012
Displaying 1 - 15 of 148
Title Category Date Sort ascending
Japan 11-Dec-2013
Major Group: Women Co-chairs' meetings with Major Groups 11-Dec-2013
Remarks to Security Council Open Debate on Preventive Diplomacy in Africa Statements 16-Jul-2010
Message to 45th Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank and 36th Meeting of the African… Statements 27-May-2010
Message on Africa Day Statements 25-May-2010
UNIDO 3-May-2010
Uganda 3-May-2010
Ghana 3-May-2010
Canada 3-May-2010
Outcome of the Africa RIM in preparation for CSD-18 3-May-2010
United States of America 3-May-2010
UNEP 3-May-2010
Morocco 3-May-2010
ECA 3-May-2010
African Union 3-May-2010

Milestones

  • January 2015 Targets 4.b, 9.a, 10.b
    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that "progress made in the last 15 years has been uneven, particularly in Africa where some MDGs remained out of track" and reiterates the need to focus on this continent. Under target 4.b, the Agenda highlights the necessity "to substantially expand at global level the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes". It is also committed, as target 9.a reads, to "facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and Small Island developing States. Whereas, target 10.b calls to encourage official development assistance and financial flows, including foreign direct investment, to States where the need is greatest, in particular least developed countries, African countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing countries, in accordance with their national plans and programmes".
  • CSD-16 and CSD-17 focused on the thematic cluster of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. CSD-17 negotiated policy recommendations for most of the issues under discussion. Delegates adopted by acclamation a “Text as prepared by the Chair,” including all negotiated text as well as proposed language from the Chair for policy options and practical measures to expedite implementation of the issues under the cluster. The text included rising food prices, ongoing negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) on the Doha Development Round, and an international focus on the climate change negotiations under the auspices of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  • January 2008 CSD-16 (Chap.2 f)
    CSD-16 and CSD-17 focused on the thematic cluster of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. As far as CSD-16 is concerned, on this occasion delegates were called to review implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation and the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the CSD-13 decisions on water and sanitation. A High-level Segment was also held from 14-16 May, with nearly 60 ministers in attendance.
  • January 2002 JPOI (Chap. 8)
    For the United Nations, Africa has always been a priority area, as illustrated by the reference to Africa's sustainable development as a cross-cutting issue in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation which emerged from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002.
  • January 2002 Monterrey Consensus
    Known as the outcome document of the UN International Conference on Financing for Development held n Monterrey in 2002, the Monterrey Consensus has become, since its adoption, the major reference for international development cooperation. The document embraces six areas of Financing for Development: 1) mobilization of domestic financial resources for development, 2) mobilization of international resources for development: foreign direct investment and other private flows. 3) International Trade as an engine for development. 4) increase of international financial and technical cooperation for development. 5) external debt. 6) addressing of systemic issues: enhancing the coherence and consistency of the international monetary, financial and trading systems in support of development.
  • January 2001 NEPAD
    Adopted at the 37th session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in July 2001 in Lusaka, Zambia, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is an economic development program of the African Union aimed at ensuring an overarching vision and policy framework for accelerating economic co-operation and integration among African countries.
  • Launched in 1996, the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) was implemented in 1999 as the result of a comprehensive review undergone by the International Development Association (IDA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including public consultations. The Initiative’s debt-burden thresholds were adjusted downward, which enabled a broader group of countries to qualify for larger volumes of debt relief. Moreover, a number of creditors, including the main multi laterals, started to provide earlier assistance to qualifying countries in the form of interim relief at decision point. Finally, the “floating completion point” was introduced, providing incentives to speed up reforms and increase country ownership.