Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary-General of the Arab League, has said that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put sustainable development at the top of the international agenda.
He added that the pandemic has also increased awareness on the importance of environmental policies.
Aboul Gheit’s remarks came during a speech at the opening of the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development, which is being held in cooperation with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
The seventh edition of the forum is being held virtually on 29-31 March under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia.
In his speech, Aboul Gheit said that the current session’s slogan is “Speeding up work towards the Vision 2030 Agenda after COVID-19”.
He said that this reflects the requirements of the present moment, and summarises the challenges the world is facing.
Aboul Gheit stressed the importance of multilateral cooperation and the sharing of tasks and burdens in achieving the goals of sustainable development.
In this regard, he praised the existing partnership between the Arab League and ESCWA, reviewing the latest developments in bilateral cooperation between the two sides. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of providing the financial resources needed to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It represents a challenge compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, as most international assistance was diverted to address the global health crisis’ effects.
In the same vein, Aboul Gheit explained that there are two important paths that must be worked on collectively. The first track relates to the call to move forward on the path of debt reduction for the poorest countries.
The second track aims to intensify work in order to urge states, organisations, and the private sector to provide additional financial resources to achieve the goals of sustainable development.
Aboul Gheit added that the Arab League, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Finance Initiative, recently launched a report on promoting sustainable financing and climate finance in Arab countries.
It should be noted that the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development is held annually in partnership between the Arab League and ESCWA. It aims to discuss issues of common interest and shed light on the reality of sustainable development in the Arab world.