ESCWA Opens Ministerial Segment of 29th Session Skip to main content

ESCWA Opens Ministerial Segment of 29th Session


ESCWA 29th Session opened this afternoon at the ministerial level, in Doha, Qatar, with speeches highlighting the need to work for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly amid the current state of the Arab region.
The inaugural meeting was attended by ministers and high-level officials representing the member countries of ESCWA; representatives of United Nations agencies and programs; delegates of UN member countries non-members in ESCWA. Also present were the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Qatar and a score of officials; delegates of regional and international non-governmental organizations; delegates of donor institutions and foundations; as well as a crowd of regional and international experts.
The inaugural meeting featured statements by Undersecretary of International Affairs at the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Bahrain Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa; United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, delivered by ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Abdallah Al Dardari; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar Sultan Al Muraikhi; and ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf.
Al Khalifa
In his statement, Abdulla Al Khalifa commended the role of ESCWA in promoting economic and social development in the region, and said: “The Kingdom of Bahrain is launching a prize in the name of the King of Bahrain HRH Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to support youth in order to implement the sustainable development goals. It will be launched during the Youth Forum scheduled to take place on 30-31 January 2017 at the UN headquarters in New York. The Kingdom of Bahrain will also host the World Youth Conference under the title “Sustainable Development and Empowering youth to Achieve its Goals” with the participation of 1200 youths from all corners of the world, as well as the Regional Ministerial Conference ‘to implement youth-related goals of sustainable development’ and both will be held during March 2017.”
He added: “The Kingdom of Bahrain started to work on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development before it was even declared, particularly that the Kingdom had accomplished the Millennium Development Goals before 2015.”
“The difficult challenges facing the Arab region have led to economic repercussions that affected most countries in the region (…) All that requires that we evaluate and reconsider the development policies that have prevailed for a period of time, and replace them with new development plans that are based on studies and a comprehensive vision that would be implemented in a serious and binding way so that we could attain comprehensive sustainable development which would achieve the aspirations of all levels and categories, guarantee their participation in all aspects of the decision-making process, and prepare them to practice their freedom and take part in the political and economic life,” Al Khalifa noted.
He added: “The Economic Vision 2030 for the Kingdom of Bahrain launched in 2008 focuses on formulating the economic vision of the government, community, and economy, based on three key guidelines: sustainability, justice, and competitiveness. After launching the Economic Vision 2030, the Economic Development Council initiated a continuous programme for economic and institutional reforms as part of that vision.”
Al Khalifa noted further that the Kingdom of Bahrain has “established the “Tamkeen” (empowerment) committee as one of the national reform projects and the Economic Vision 2030 of Bahrain. The committee was tasked to develop the industry in the Kingdom of Bahrain and make it the key drive of economic growth. Tamkeen has two main goals: establish and develop institutions, and provide support to improve productivity and growth of individuals and institutions.”
He concluded that Tamkeen has injected until September 2016 more than 800 Million BD (around 2 Billion USD) in the Bahraini private sector through its different programmes; up to 100 thousand individuals and 35 thousand national institutions availed from Tamkeen programmes.
In his letter addressed to the Session, read on his behalf by ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Abdallah Al Dardari, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the Arab region is filled with refugees and displaced due to conflicts, be it in Iraq, Syria, or Yemen, and they are the most vulnerable people. So are the people of Palestine who have suffered from military occupation and are still thriving to obtain their individual and collective rights.
Ban praised the role of ESCWA in the Arab region in providing advices across multiple sectors and technical support to implement the sustainable development goals.
He concluded that Arab states suffering from conflicts, lack of water and food security, violation to women rights, and an increase in inequality and poverty, realise more than anyone else the significance of the correlation between economy, environment, and peace. They are also in a unique position that allows them to send a message to the world that there is no wellbeing without justice and a total respect of human rights and peace.
Al Muraikhi
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Qatar Sultan Al Muraikhi welcomed the guests in Qatar and said: “Among the lessons learnt from the Millennium Development Goals experience, meeting the requirements of the implementation of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will not be complete without relying on a global partnership to create the international and regional environment that is suitable for development, while paying heed to the different capacities of countries and the level of development in each one of them, and how much national policies, priorities, and properties are respected. Therefore, achieving an all-inclusive and sustainable economic and social development requires mobilising the means required. The seventeenth development goal has stressed on the need to enhance an efficient global cooperation to create real partnerships that are based on the global and regional solidarity, with the participation of national governments, civil society organisations, and members of the community, with the need to completely respect human rights. It also requires achieving all-inclusive and sustainable development, encouraging innovation and sharing the best practices and successful development solutions, establishing the right mechanisms of monitoring, following up, and evaluating during the implementation, while reducing costs and ensuring reaching the sought outcomes.”
Al Muraikhi noted that Qatar strongly believes that the right for development is one of the essential human rights; he said: “Qatar constitution has taken into account equal opportunities in development as one of the good rule pillars, and that is the best way to build peaceful and integral communities, where human rights, security, and development are integral and affect one another to attain prosperity for all.”
“We, in Qatar, pay a great deal of importance to the development of the community and the individuals, and the Prince of Qatar has granted a special attention to achieving the basics of Qatar National Vision 2030, including economic development, social development, human development, and environmental development, which are in line with the globally agreed development goals,” he added.
He concluded: “In addition to Qatar efforts under the international peacekeeping agenda through its increasing activity in the UN organisation, we largely contribute to international development and to mitigating the impact of wars and conflicts on civilians, through humanitarian aids and development projects in several conflict and occupation areas, whereas our development and relief activities have amounted to almost 15 Billion Riyal in more than one hundred countries during the past five years.”
ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf said: “We meet today while Aleppo is witnessing the summary executions of besieged civilians, including women and children, in the streets or in their homes, if their homes remain standing, by their so-called “liberators”. These martyrs join hundreds of thousands of other Arab citizens who have died as a result of air strikes, the sword, and bombs exploding in our churches, cathedrals, mosques and Hussainiyas (…) We gather while our occupied countries are far from liberation, and our independent countries are threatened with occupation.”
“Amidst such monumental difficulties, the world has launched 17 new sustainable development goals,” Khalaf noted, and added: “Achieving sustainable development across the world requires the formulation of economic, social and environmental policies.  In the Arab region, it also demands radical change in the development approach and in our choices and policies.” She then stressed that “the solution does not lie in policies that may have fuelled economic growth but failed to ensure sustainability and inclusiveness.”
ESCWA Executive Secretary then pointed out that, “In our region, development and politics are inextricably linked. The main priority must be to end conflict and civil wars, so as to give meaning to discussions on development and hope for its achievement. Wars do not end with a ceasefire, but rather by building legitimacy and ensuring acceptability by the people. (…) The Palestinian people, who have struggled under Israeli occupation for over half a century, have no hope of achieving the Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under occupation. Development, by definition, is freedom; occupation is its antithesis. The Israeli occupation does not only threaten the Palestinian people. As long as there is an expansionary, nuclear State in the region, founded on the concept of ethnic and religious purity and that grants citizenship on the basis of religion, this State, Israel, shall remain a threat to all Arab countries. The threat of this model is not limited to Governments and elites, but also endangers the existence of countries as political entities and as States for all their citizens.”
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an integrated plan; it cannot be fragmented. Its sixteenth Goal on peace, security and good governance is a foundation for all the other Goals, globally and in the Arab region.  There can be no peace or security without good governance. No development is possible without the participation of all. (…) Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals will remain incomplete without the strong and active participation of women. Development in some of our countries continues to marginalize women, if not in education, then in political participation and the labour market. We must start by monitoring the situation of women under each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Their role as development partners with full rights must be recognized in government policies. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires accurate measurement data at the national and regional levels to assess and build upon the facts.”
Khalaf underscored further that: “Human beings are the agents and the end of every development endeavour. The desired economic growth must lead to employment opportunities, decent work and a broader base for economic development covering all regions and sectors.”
“We, who participated in the making of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, must endeavour to implement it despite the chronic grievances and emerging concerns that leave us with few options. We must navigate our historical debris and attempt to salvage what remains of life and dignity for us and our region, in the hope of better days to come,” she concluded.
The Ministerial Session this year will hold three high-level panel discussions comprised of ministerial and prominent intellectual figures who will examine approaches to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab States. This will cover: (1) external and internal challenges member States are facing in implementing the 2030 Agenda like developing the statistical infrastructure, finding the resources required for the implementation, and adopting an integral approach among sectoral policies; (2) the impact of conflict and occupation on implementing the 2030 Agenda; and (3) proposed tools and methods required to assist member States in achieving the seventeen goals.
At the end of the session, participants will issue a declaration that focuses on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab States.
For more information:
Nabil Abu-Dargham +961-70-99 31 44
Ms. Mirane Abi-Zaki +961-76-04 64 02
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