Reinforcing the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for sustainability and peace in the Arab region - United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
14-15 February 2024
Regional Consultation

Reinforcing the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for sustainability and peace in the Arab region

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  • Cairo, Egypt
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In preparation for the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2024 (AFSD), ESCWA is organizing, in cooperation with the League of Arab States, a regional consultative meeting on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda, with particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under review at the 2024 High-Level Political Forum, namely SDGs 1, 2, 13, 16 and 17.

The meeting, entitled “Reinforcing the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for sustainability and peace in the Arab region”, is aimed at:

  • Fostering discussions among stakeholders on sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions, building on regional and national initiatives and best practices;
  • Exploring opportunities to scale up solutions for implementing SDGs 1, 2, 13, 16 and 17 within the context of conflicts and crises impacting the region;
  • Discussing regional opportunities for strengthening synergies and integration between the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
  • Identifying priority actions and means of implementation to achieve the SDGs under review.

More information on SDG progress in the Arab region is available on the Arab SDG Monitor Portal.

Outcome document

The Consultative Meeting on the Environmental Dimension of the Sustainable Development Agenda entitled “Reinforcing the Environmental Dimension of 2030 Agenda for Sustainability and Peace in the Arab Region” was held in Cairo, Egypt, on 14-15 February 2024. It was attended by 98 participants from 17 Arab countries, including representatives of governments, academic institutions, regional and international organizations, civil society organizations and representatives of the private sector.

Key messages and recommendations that resulted from the meeting can be found here.

During this session, the meeting organizers -the League of Arab States (LAS) and ESCWA- underscored that the consultative meeting was mandated by the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment, in accordance with Resolution 638 adopted during its 34th session. LAS emphasized the relevance of extracting key messages from this meeting for the goals under review, and the intent to present them at the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development and the 2024 High-Level Political Forum. LAS highlighted the significance of the meeting’s discussions in addressing pertinent issues to be examined during the upcoming UNEA 6. ESCWA, in its remarks, underscored the need for reviewing national and regional priorities and strategies to incorporate sustainability principles. ESCWA emphasized the importance of strengthening regional cooperation to ensure access to SDGs means of implementation and capitalize on opportunities arising from commitments in global frameworks. ESCWA also highlighted the need to address weaponization of resources during conflicts. The session included a review of meeting objectives and agenda, along with a participant tour de table.

The session included an intervention by the International Organization for Migration on the effects of drought and climatic factors on human movement and internal migration. Emphasis was placed on the importance of evidence-based planning and securing resources, services, and infrastructure to reduce poverty and avoid displacement. The role of food systems in reducing inequality, alleviating poverty, and improving environmental sustainability was highlighted by ESCWA.

Morocco also shared its experience in developing a law granting Sulaliyyate women the right to own lands, and highlighted its positive environmental, social, and economic impacts. The experiences of Egypt and Jordan also emphasized the importance of formalizing the informal sector in waste management through legal procedures, incentives, and creating partnerships, to enhance social and environmental benefits. Experts highlighted the importance of relying on renewable energies and the need to enhance sustainable management of drylands to reduce poverty in rural areas and adapt to climate change. IUCN also stressed the importance of valuing the environmental services of ecosystems and informing decision-makers to reduce poverty.

During this session, Lebanon presented the main concepts for developing food safety legislations and food system pathways to ensure sustainability and environmental protection. ACSAD's experience in supporting Arab countries to enhance food security by adopting flexible solutions was also reviewed. The need to transform agricultural food systems, and to link this transformation to the climate action was highlighted by Thriving Solutions. FAO focused on the imperative to work to increase climate finance allocated to adaptation, especially for agriculture. The League of Arab States (LAS) pointed to the challenges faced by conflict-affected countries to ensure food security, in addition to the challenges resulting from climate change and desertification. LAS’ efforts for preparing a draft law to reduce food loss and waste in the Arab region were also highlighted.

During this session, the representative of the Arab Negotiation Group on Climate Change emphasized the need to balance adaptation and mitigation efforts, ensuring accessible means of implementation and aligning climate action with broader development goals. The role of legislation, financial mobilization, and incentives in promoting renewable energy use was underscored by the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, along with the importance of localizing renewable energy technology and building capacities for operating power plants. The Saudi Green Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative were presented, highlighting their focus on regional cooperation and the adoption of nature-based solutions. Mauritania shared key challenges faced by least developed countries in climate action, including data gaps, insufficient capacity and technology enhancement, limited integration of climate action into sectoral policies, and funding constraints. Recommendations included enhancing regional environmental cooperation to strengthen partnerships and collaboration in climate action. Jordan shared key projects and partnerships aimed at advancing climate action, preserving biodiversity, and accelerating sustainable development goals post-UNFCCC COP28 and other relevant environmental events.

In this session, Libya highlighted its climate action efforts at institutional and policy levels, with a specific focus on ceasing gas flaring by 2030 and promoting the use of natural gas. The State of Palestine underscored the challenges arising from the occupation's control over resources, leading to the destruction of vital infrastructure like renewable energy and water facilities, exacerbating climate change effects. Sudan addressed the impact of internal displacement, especially on agriculture due to conflicts and natural disasters, presenting a plan to enhance climate action during conflicts. Yemen stressed the necessity of funding to combat climate change and urged commitment to financial pledges for developing countries. Opportunities for least developed countries were discussed in light of COP28 commitments, including the establishment of the Loss and Damage Fund. The importance of building Arab negotiators' capabilities, enhancing institutional organization, identifying technological needs, and accessing financing were emphasized. Lebanon provided insights into its climate action developments amid economic and security challenges.

This session addressed ways to advance peaceful and inclusive societies for SDG implementation. Experience in institutional reform was shared by a number of Arab states such as Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, and Kuwait. Participants agreed on the necessity of ensuring regional security for achieving SDGs. CGIAR emphasised the need for fair resource access, and the inclusion of women and youth in decision-making.  Experts underscored the need for  robust institutions during and post-crises, the integration of environmental sustainability in relief programs, support for refugees, and efforts to enhance the institutional and legislative environment to combat corruption, especially during crises. Discussions highlighted the imperative of a ceasefire in Gaza, addressing the weaponization of natural resources, and urged an assessment of environmental impacts in Gaza and southern Lebanon and effective mechanisms for building back better.

During this session, climate change experts emphasized the need to enhance the capacities of Arab countries in preparing and implementing bankable projects eligible for international climate finance funds. Arab states were invited to review the Arab Climate Finance Access and Mobilization Strategy for presentation at the next Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment meeting. Interventions by private and public banks underscored the pivotal role of banks in environmental and climate financing. The Arab Network for Environment and Development highlighted the importance of strengthening partnerships with non-governmental organizations, and empowering civil society. The United Nations Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) underscored  the need to strengthen  international cooperation in research and development. Furthermore, the significance of hosting regional events and leveraging global platforms in the Arab region, such as the UNFCCC COP, Convention to Combat Desertification, and World Environment Day, to advance environmental action was highlighted.

At the end of the meeting, participants were informed that the key messages would be shared with them for review before finalization and subsequent presentation at the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development in 2024.

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