Recommendations of AFED 9th Annual Conference on Sustainable Development in a Changing Arab Climate
Beirut, 14 November 2016
The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) held its ninth annual conference on 10-11 November 2016 at the American University of Beirut (AUB), as part of its 150th Anniversary. The conference discussed challenges facing the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the participation of 500 delegates from 58 countries, representing 170 institutions from the public and private sectors and academia, and 52 students from Arab universities who are members in AFED's Future Environment Leaders Forum (FELF). 48 speakers took part in 10 sessions, which covered finance, climate change, food security, education, health and development challenges in war and conflict zones.
The conference agreed with the findings of AFED report on Sustainable Development in a Changing Arab Climate, specifically pertaining to the need for a transition to a green economy and the integration of sustainable development principles in the reconstruction plans.
A committee selected by the delegates issued recommendations on Monday 14 November 2016, taking into account discussions of the conference, including proposals submitted by civil society and FELF students. Here are the 15 recommendations:
1. Promote peace and security as a prerequisite to achieve sustainable development in the Arab region. Restoration of political stability is urgently needed in order to establish a post-conflict environment conducive to the achievement of the SDGs, as much as inclusive development is required for sustained political stability.
2. Adopt a long-term vision and strategy with sequenced priorities for implementation aimed at transitioning Arab economies onto a green and sustainable path, as a means to revitalize and diversify economies to low-carbon and climate-resilient ones, promote competitiveness and access to international markets, create new employment opportunities, eradicate poverty and improve the environment and human welfare.
3. Adopt an integrated policymaking approach in policy development and formulation in order to ensure the integration of the environmental, social and economic dimensions, while addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation.
4. Consider the creation of a Sustainable Development entity under the immediate supervision and direction of the head of the highest executive authority to ensure integrated policymaking, coordination, follow up, monitoring, and evaluation.
5. Enhance local capacities by investing in human resources and institutional capacity building. This includes reviewing the educational curricula to cover formal and vocational training, training the trainers programs, and adopting an education culture that promotes innovative and critical thinking, research and development.
6. Strengthen regional coordination and cooperation among Arab countries in the implementation of development strategies and priorities, particularly to achieve water-food-energy security based on the nexus approach.
7. Adopt a multi stakeholder participatory approach in decision making at all stages of the policy formulation process, from the conception phase of policies, plans and programs and throughout implementation, follow up and evaluation.
8. Integrate civil society organizations in all aspects of development planning and implementation, and call upon NGOs to engage in sustained voluntary work in support of the implementation of the SDGs.
9. Develop policy packages that promote the transition to a green and sustainable economy across sectors. This includes regulations, market incentives, R&D funding, stimulation of information and innovative technologies, capacity development, and sustainable finance.
10. Introduce regulatory and incentive measures, including public awareness campaigns, to ensure implementation of the Regional Arab Strategy for Sustainable Consumption and Production at the national level.
11. Introduce measures to greening the financial sector with emphasis laid on encouraging small and medium size enterprises to invest in green and sustainable projects, and Promote green bonds/Sukuk as a means to generate additional financial resources to fund green projects.
12. Introduce measures aimed at phasing out environmentally damaging subsidies, while ensuring that this does not negatively affect middle and low income families.
13. Introduce measures necessary to mobilize domestic resources to generate adequate financing for implementation of the SDGs, including from development institutions, country donors, and the private sector.
14. Create enabling environment to attract private sector investment in a direction which helps achieve the SDGs.
15. Introduce special measures in countries receiving incoming refugees from neighboring countries experiencing armed conflict and turmoil, with the objective of meeting their urgent needs in the interim period, and provide them with adequate education and training to allow them to be productive elements and prepare them to be integrated in the economic and social fabric of their own countries when they return back.