UN Strategizes to ensure African countries respond and recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic
"Today marks the start of the next-generation collaboration approach for the regional UN entities to support African countries to respond and recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic."
3 March 2021
BRAZZAVILLE – Africa’s regional know-how, assets and policy expertise will be more systematically channeled to the Resident Coordinators and United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) across the continent as they help countries ensure an inclusive and sustainable transition out of the COVID-19 crisis, UN Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group Amina J. Mohammed stressed as she joined the first annual meeting of the new Regional Collaborative Platform on 2 March 2021.
“Today marks the start of the next-generation collaboration approach for the regional UN entities to support African countries to respond and recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic and reignite the Decade of Action for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is aligned with the Africa Union Agenda 2063,” Ms. Mohammed said.
The United Nations has been making progress on its sweeping reforms to strengthen its support to countries, leveraging its capacities at all levels. The new Regional Collaborative Platform has responded to the growing need for enhanced UN coordination and regional collaboration in the face of the pandemic and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It brings together UN regional expertise, capacity and data to provide analytical, policy and operational support to countries.
Yesterday’s discussion, attended by regional representatives from the Africa UN development system, focused on high-priority issues for the African continent to recover better from the pandemic and move toward the Sustainable Development Goals. These included accelerating the implementation of the continental free trade agreement; investing in youth and women’s empowerment to help countries reap the benefit of their demographic dividends; advancing home-grown sustainable and scalable technologies and digital solutions; building climate and disaster resilience; and continuing to support the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” initiative.
Across the continent, Resident Coordinators and UNCTs are supporting countries in their access to COVAX vaccines and their socioeconomic response plans. In addition to the pandemic recovery, UN entities will work together to support sustainable development efforts in the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin and the Horn of Africa, and address the resurgence of Ebola, and climate crises with severe damage caused by deadly droughts, cyclones and locust outbreaks.
“We are still in a recovery phase for the continent. We need additional resources. Our low- and middle-income countries, as well as small island states, have lost a lot of their resources. They need more fiscal space. They need more revenues. They need additional liquidity to ensure we build forward better,” said Under-Secretary-General Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
Although it was a transitional year, the regional UN entities demonstrated evidence of enhanced system-wide collaboration at the regional level. For example, last year, all of them joined forces to launch the Knowledge Management Hub on COVID-19 and shared a business continuity plan with governments to support their e-governance, e-justice and e-commerce for livelihoods, while the Africa e-education strategy was introduced to Resident Coordinators to provide emergency education to more than 100 million African children out of school.
“The African region is at a strategic juncture with COVID-19 recovery programmes and investments that we are making to enhance trade. All our efforts will yield desired results only if Africa’s people – our most important resource – feel productive, if they feel valued, if they feel safe, and if they feel secure,” said Assistant Secretary-General Ahunna Eziakonwa, Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa at the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The new platform will engage with the African Union in April and accelerate its effort to deliver on its promise with an impact-oriented focus on implementations.
The Regional Collaborative Platform is chaired by the UN Deputy Secretary-General with two Vice-Chairs: Ms. Songwe and Ms. Eziakonwa. Its joint secretariat is comprised of UNECA, UNDP and the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO).
Notes for correspondents
Agenda 2063 is Africa’s blueprint and master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future. It is the continent’s strategic framework that aims to deliver on its goal for inclusive and sustainable development.
The UN Resident Coordinator system encompasses all organizations of the United Nations system dealing with operational activities for development, regardless of their formal presence in the country.
Screenshots of the meeting can be downloaded here (©UNDCO).
Hiroyuki Saito, Regional Communications Officer
Regional Office for Africa, UN Development Coordination Office
Regional Bureau for Africa, UN Development Programme