Development is a human right that everyone should benefit from, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable groups in the Arab region. This includes people living under occupation and conflict, refugees, internally displaced people, and residents of rural and poor areas. Such were the recommendations of the “Preparatory Meeting for the 3rd Arab Forum on Sustainable Development (AFSD-3) and the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2),” hosted by the United Nations House in Beirut on 14 April 2016.
The Meeting gathered representatives of the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region (JCEDAR), and concerned regional and international institutions members of JCEDAR. It was organized by ESCWA, the Technical Secretariat of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Participants in the Meeting reviewed the priorities of the Arab region with respect to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to the environment and natural resources, based on the outcomes of the first issue of the Arab Sustainable Development Report. They exchanged views on the means of ensuring that no one is left behind in the Arab region; delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and safeguarding a healthy, natural and human environment. Moreover, participants discussed national experiences on monitoring and evaluating the SDGs related to the environment and natural resources.
The Meeting resulted in a set of messages and recommendations, which will be submitted to the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to be held this coming July at the UN Headquarters in New York. The messages and recommendations will be submitted through the AFSD-3, to be held in May in Amman. They will also be submitted to UNEA-2, which holds its upcoming meetings in May in Nairobi.
Participants agreed on the importance of establishing an effective Arab institutional framework for sustainable development that includes a regional follow-up and review mechanism, an Arab financing strategy, and a regional mechanism for technological cooperation backed by the international community.
Recommendations also included a call to support the draft resolutions submitted by a group of Arab countries to UNEA, namely resolutions on the following four key issues: assessing the impacts of the war on Gaza; assessing the environmental impacts of conflicts and wars and their repercussions on neighboring, refugee-hosting countries; combating desertification; and water basins. Participants supported Iraq’s candidacy to UNEA’s Bureau and called on Arab countries to back it.
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