By António Guterres
Note: Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the high-level event inaugurating the Africa Week (October 16-20) at the UN on the theme: “Supporting an Integrated, Prosperous, People-Centred and Peaceful Africa: Towards the Implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. – The Editor
UNITED NATIONS (IDN) – In recent years, the continent has made headway in reducing poverty, diversifying economies, building the middle class and nurturing growth in a variety of growing sectors such as banking, telecom and retail. More children – and especially girls – are in primary school. More women are serving in parliaments. Child and maternal deaths have been reduced – as has the prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
The African Peer Review Mechanism continues to show its value. And like the United Nations, African countries are focusing greater attention on prevention. We welcome initiatives such as “Silence the Guns by 2020”. Our shared challenge is to build on these and other gains. That is the spirit of the deep and growing partnership between the African Union and the United Nations that the President of the General Assembly has referred. And that is the essence of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s ambitious Agenda 2063.
For the people of Africa to fully benefit from these important efforts, these two agendas need to be strategically aligned. A few months ago, we convened the first-ever United Nations-African Union Annual Conference. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission – Chairperson [Moussa] Faki [Mahamat] –and I signed a joint United Nations-African Union framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security. This framework provides a basis for collaboration on prevention, early warning, mediation, conflict management –and on working together to sustain peace, security and address climate change, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
We are now putting together a joint framework on sustainable development and aligned implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. This framework will be completed and signed next April. These efforts are an illustration of the increased strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations. There is much room to strengthen our work to promote sustainable development, expand opportunities and leave no one behind.
I would point to three areas.
First, focusing on Africa’s young people. The continent has the fastest growing youth population in the world. We can help make the most of this demographic dividend through greater investments in education, especially in science and technology, and by ensuring to enable youth participation in economic development. People need skills that match the needs of today and tomorrow.
Second, empowering Africa’s women and girls. In addition to the impact on individuals, gender inequality is costing sub-Saharan Africa tens of billions a year, like everywhere else in the world – an enormous and needless loss of potential and economic growth.
Third, we must be innovative in leveraging resources and financing for development. This includes tax reform by African countries themselves – but also international efforts to fight tax evasion, money laundering and the illicit financial flows that have depleted Africa’s resource base.
It means donors upholding their commitments to official development assistance, as outlined in Addis again. And it means helping African countries attract innovative finance and gain greater access to financial markets and private investment.
Africa Week is an important moment to raise awareness and mobilize support. I am convinced that, together, we can meet the challenges. We can build a higher platform of collaboration. We can ensure a more peaceful and prosperous Africa where no one is left behind. [IDN-InDepthNews – 16 October 2017]
Photo: Secretary-General António Guterres addresses a high-level event inaugurating Africa Week on 16 October 2017 at the UN headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Cia Pak
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