The Sunday News
Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
TOP officials from the United Nations and African Union landed in Victoria Falls yesterday ahead of the 6th session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (AFRFSD) which opens in the resort town today.
United Nations deputy Secretary-General Ms Amina Mohamed, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Ms Vera Songwe and African Union deputy chairperson Ambassador Kwesi Quartey were welcomed by Zimbabwe Ambassador to the UN, Ambassador Frederick Shava and UN resident co-ordinator Ms Maria Ribeiro at the Victoria Falls International Airport.
The trio of Ms Mohamed, Ms Songwe and Ms Ribeiro immediately drove to Hwange National Park as part of the visit to selected areas where climate change has adversely affected wildlife. Before leaving the airport, Ms Mohamed told journalists that the conference is an opportunity for member states of the UN General Assembly and AU to take stock of the past decade in terms of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In Hwange they went for a game drive. Ms Songwe said she was impressed with wildlife conservation by the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (Zimparks).
“I notice the park is a huge area that you cover with little resources and using ground water. It’s nice to see the opportunities for investment and we will see how we can come in,” she said after a game drive at Hwange Main Camp.
Ms Amina enquired how the country had been affected by poaching and trafficking of wildlife, to which ZimParks officials said drought-related animal deaths as a result of climate change were more severe than poaching. The delegation marvelled at seeing elephants, giraffe, kudus, wildebeest and ostriches.
President Mnangagwa will officially open the high level summit on Tuesday which ends on Thursday. Each member State is expected to send at least two ministers. The summit seeks to review progress made by the continent in implementing and monitoring the SDGs, facilitate peer learning and advance transformative solutions and actions to accelerate implementation of the SDGs and Agenda 2063 goals. For the first time, all the SDGs will be discussed in one meeting.
Among key topics for discussion will be the 2020 AU theme of year on, “Silencing the Guns” in the context of the “Decade of Action”, the data gateway and the role of youth in realising the two Agendas.
The regional forum is an intergovernmental platform convened by the Uneca in collaboration with the AU Commission, AfDB and the UN system to review progress, share experiences and lessons learned towards attaining the continent’s Agenda 2063.
It will run under the theme: “2020-2030: A Decade to Deliver a Transformed and Prosperous Africa through the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.”