(MENAFN- APCO Worldwide) CAIRO-Egypt: 15 September 2021 – The Egypt - International Cooperation Forum (Egypt-ICF) has released a detailed blueprint to guide the international community to rebuild societies in a green, inclusive, and more equitable way in the post-COVID-19 era, and to ensure global decision-makers deliver on the promises laid out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, a climate crisis and an economic depression, the Cairo Communiqué, released at the conclusion of the inaugural Egypt–ICF, provides a set of recommendations for international policymakers to embed into their sustainable development efforts to ensure that societies build back better – and no one is left behind.
The 9 key themes covered in the 38-point document include the importance of multilateralism and cooperation, advancing the SDG’s, private sector engagement, combatting climate change, digital trade, digital transformation towards an inclusive ecosystem, developing a roadmap to food security, and investing in human capital.
The communiqué outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic has created the urge to foster more effective and agile multilateral cooperation capable of addressing pressing and emerging global challenges and issued a call-to-action for global governments to commit to concerted efforts towards inclusive, effective, and harmonized cooperation towards sustainable development.
It also pointed out that the devastating effects of the pandemic can have a silver lining, and that the need to economically rebound from COVID-19 will also spark the international community into realizing how post-pandemic recovery can be intertwined with sustainability, allowing two of the biggest crises of the modern era to be tackled in one.
Commenting on the release of the communiqué, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, said: “The growing inequalities caused by dual challenge of COVID-19 and climate change have moved us further away from our global promise of delivering the sustainable development goals. The situation can, and must, be turned around.
“We know that challenges bring opportunities. These opportunities exist now, and we have the knowledge, the science and the technology to capitalize on them for the good of everyone in the world. We need the collective will of the international community and a unity of purpose that catalyzes the urgent and ambitious action we must take to forge an inclusive, green economic recovery.”
She added: “The recommendations laid out in the Cairo Communiqué can play a pivotal role in making this action happen. Building on the momentum created by the Egypt-ICF, we will be working over the next 12 months, alongside our international partners, to ensure the recommendations outlined in this communiqué are implemented.”
Among the recommendations, the communiqué called for strengthening existing South-South and triangular cooperation platforms and reinforcing the mechanisms for sharing knowledge and experience, to scale up successful practices through cooperative cross-border frameworks.
H.E. Collen Vixen Kelapile, newly elected President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), attended the Egypt- ICF’s Closing Ceremony, releasing the first development focused Cairo Communiqué. H.E. Kelapile commended the communiqué’s recommendations, highlighting that the 9 key themes covered in the communiqué are the pressing issues the world is faced with in the wake of pandemic. He pinpointed, ”as the communiqué rightly highlights, investment in infrastructure is crucial” calling for the implementation of the Cairo Communiqué’s recommendations in order to achieve a green and inclusive recovery, making sure to ‘Leave No One Behind’ as per the UN’s global pledge.
The 38-point blueprint also encouraged each country to take innovative approaches in mapping their progress to align the results of international development cooperation projects with the UN SDGs' objectives. It further outlined how multilateralism, international cooperation and public-private sector collaborations can help generate the additional $3.7 trillion a year needed to bridge the SDGs financing gap and put the world on a path to a green recovery from the pandemic.
International collaboration to help Africa rebuild post-COVID and strengthen its resilience against future health and economic shocks was also a key theme in the communiqué, which outlined the role of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in boosting growth and integration of the African economies and the importance of creating an enabling environment for cross-border e-commerce.
It emphasized the need for collective action to scale up scientific research and innovation in efforts to strengthen Africa's resilience to climate change and other shocks that threaten the food security of its people.
Digital transformation was another key theme, with the communiqué outlining the importance of harnessing the potential of digital technologies to both empower women and young entrepreneurs post-pandemic, and the need for policy reforms to improve regulations and create the enabling environment to facilitate the youth-led digital transformation in Africa.
The blueprint also urged global governments to push human development to the forefront of the post-pandemic agenda and commit to a collective responsibility to ensure no person is left vulnerable or marginalized as communities and economies recover and rebuild after COVID-19.
This includes investing in human capital as a key to long-term growth and sustainable development, ensuring equal access to vaccinations, and addressing investment gaps by mobilizing private and public finance to support energy, transport, and social infrastructure.
The two-day Forum led to several key announcements, the exchange of ideas, and discussions on topics such as Egypt’s approach to tackling sustainability post-COVID-19.
This included the country’s pioneering ODA-SDG model, which is being used to measure the real-world impact of the country’s 377 ongoing SDG-related projects, worth more than $25 billion. The pioneering initiative is now ready to be replicated in other countries, the UN’s Resident Coordinator for Egypt, Elena Panova, told the Forum. Egypt also announced plans to provide more than 60 million people in rural areas with high-speed internet as part of a nationwide effort to develop the digital economy and drive job creation.
The Egypt-ICF heard how Africa’s transition to digital trade and its reliance on technology to push towards food security are key for a green and inclusive recovery.
Furthermore, the forum focused on climate change, with international policymakers, development partners, and representatives of the private sector, civil society, and think tanks discussing the potential that a worldwide reset triggered by the coronavirus crisis could offer for 'greening' global economies, and how sustainable development cannot happen without proper international teamwork.
Policymakers also discussed how unlocking the private sector’s potential for growth and job creation will require a more enabling environment for trade and investment by removing non-tariff barriers and creating a level playing field for investors.
Egypt - ICF, which took place between 8-9 September 2021, aimed to trigger a global conversation about how the COVID-19 pandemic can be a catalyst for renewed action to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals; a 17-point action plan that targets ending poverty, protecting the planet, and improving the lives and prospects of people around the world.
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