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Member States underscore value of UNECE’s integrated support for 2030 Agenda implementation in the region

Published: 12 April 2019

Fifty-six member States from Europe, North America and Central Asia have come together to reaffirm their commitment to harnessing UNECE as a key platform for cooperation to advance progress towards the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals in the region.

Intergovernmental discussions held this week in the context of the 68th session of the Commission of UNECE (9-10 April 2019) focused on the impact of UNECE’s normative work, its specialized and demand-driven technical assistance to countries, and its role in facilitating the exchange of expertise and best practices to help address a series of core sustainability challenges in the region. This builds on over 70 years of supporting cooperation and economic integration.

H.E. Mr. Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Belarus, stated “UNECE is the only comprehensive and effective platform in Europe on economic and social development issues, which includes all countries in the region without any restrictions. In the context of the UN Development System reform, Belarus supports the UNECE mandate, reaffirms its commitment to further strengthening the Commission and its secretariat.”

The high-level statement endorsed by member States recognizes that advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the region will require strengthened cooperation to mobilize actions and resources across the public and private sectors, highlighting UNECE’s role as “a solid platform for governments and other stakeholders to collaborate, and engage to develop norms, standards and legal instruments”.

The statement recalls the organization’s capacity to adapt and expand these concrete and tangible products to support member States to meet new challenges. It highlights in particular how the multidisciplinary nature of its mandate and the organization’s strengths across different areas of expertise enable UNECE to “assist member States to shape integrated policies that take into account the multifaceted aspects of sustainable development”.

This added value was actively demonstrated in the session’s high-level segment as member States explored how to harness smart sustainable cities as drivers for sustainable development in the UNECE region – which is among the most highly urbanized regions in the world.

Day of Cities

For the first time, the Commission session was preceded by a Day of Cities, where, at the invitation of UNECE, cities and local authorities, including some 50 Mayors and Deputy Mayors from 33 countries across the region, came together to share challenges and successful approaches for sustainable urban development. Municipal authorities were seen as a critical partner in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Discussions underlined that UNECE should continue its support to the work of cities and local authorities and further facilitate the exchange of experiences and solutions to help achieve the SDGs in urban areas.

To broaden the scope of UNECE’s Committee on Housing and Land Management, the Commission decided to change its name to the “Committee on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management”. The possibility of establishing a Forum of Mayors under the Committee was mentioned and will be further explored by member States ahead of the Committee’s  80th session (2- 3 October 2019).

“As we strive to achieve the 2030 Agenda, cities are a critical success factor”, urged UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova, who emphasized how UNECE’s integrated support is helping to address complex sustainable urban development challenges in a holistic manner. Focusing on the impact of this work, she highlighted how UNECE recommendations on affordable housing help address the needs of 50 million people in the region who live in informal settlements, how the Air Convention has achieved reductions in emissions of a series of deadly substances by 30-80% in Europe since 1990 and by 30-40% in North America, and how vehicle regulations developed at UNECE improve the safety transport in cities and beyond, saving thousands of lives every year.

New bureau elected

The Commission elected its new Bureau, with Belarus as Chair (H.E. Mr. Yury Ambrazevich), and Romania (H.E. Mr. Adrian Cosmin Vierita) and Switzerland (H.E. Mr. Didier Chambovey) as Vice-Chairs.

All delegations paid tribute to the outgoing Chair, H.E. Mr Janis Karklins of Latvia, for his leadership and commitment over the last two years.

The Commission also adopted a number of important decisions that will guide the work of UNECE over the next two years, including for the organization of the 2020 and 2021 sessions of the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region - a unique multistakeholder platform for peer learning and exchange to advance 2030 Agenda implementation.

The 69th session of the Commission will be held in 2021. 

The documents of the 68th Commission session are available at: https://www.unece.org/index.php?id=50174  

Photos can be viewed at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/98046700@N04/albums/with/72157706446623541  

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