The year 2014 is pivotal for development. While efforts at the global, regional and national levels intensify to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, endeavors continue to define a development agenda beyond 2015 that will guide sustainable development action at the global level over the short to medium terms. The global community, including the Arab region, seems to be at an intersection where all nations, under the umbrella of the United Nations system, strive to set a post-2015 development agenda and follow up on the implementation of Rio+ 20 outcomes, including the definition of a single and universal set of sustainable development goals (SDGs).
In preparation for these global processes, national and regional consultative meetings, workshops and seminars were held in the Arab Region over the past year to assess the progress made by Arab countries in achieving the MDGs, and develop an Arab perspective for a post-2015 agenda that reflects their priorities and helps sustain development gains in the future.
The next substantive session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which will be held in New York, in July 2014, constitutes an important milestone on this track. Its programme will include the second session of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which was established as an outcome of Rio+ 20 to provide political leadership and guidance to sustainable development and a forum for reviewing commitments and objectives related to sustainable development. In light of the mandate entrusted to all the UN Regional Commissions, including ESCWA, to lead regional preparations for this event, ESCWA and its partners the League of Arab States and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), organized the “Arab High Level Forum on Sustainable Development” in Amman during the period 2-4 April 2014. The Forum was generously hosted by the Government of Jordan represented by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and the Ministry of Environment.
The Forum provided a platform for discussing the following issues:
• Progress made in the Arab region towards the millennium development goals and means of accelerating their achievement and sustaining gains in the future, as part of Arab regional preparations for the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) in 2014;
• A proposed set of sustainable development goals for the Arab Region, prepared by ESCWA based on the outcomes of regional consultations on the subject, in addition to the key conclusions emanating from the various regional and national consultations on the post-2015 development agenda;
• The proposed Arab Strategic Framework for Sustainable Development that ESCWA and its partners are developing at the request of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment as an update of the Sustainable Development Initiative in the Arab Region;
• The Arab Regional Roadmap for Green Economy Investment;
• Means of implementation of sustainable development commitments.
The Forum outcomes will be submitted to the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment and the Council of Arab Ministers for Social Affairs in preparation for their adoption and submission to the next Arab Economic and Social Development Summit (January 2015). The report of the Forum will also be submitted to the ESCWA twenty-eighth Ministerial Session (May 2014), as well as to the UN-ECOSOC (July 2014) as the regional input to the HLPF and AMR for 2014.