On 29-30 March 2023, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) hosted the annual Regional Forum on Sustainable Development in Geneva. This year's edition was co-chaired by Switzerland and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Forum focused on the mid-term review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Regional perspectives on the way to the global mid-term review
Europe's mid-term progress towards achieving the targets is mixed: at present, the region is on track to meet only 21 of the 169 targets. Progress needs to be significantly accelerated on 79 targets, and a radical turnaround is needed to achieve 15 of them. The Forum also identified regional disparities in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and underscored the importance of cities as drivers of sustainable development.
The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and its impact on energy supplies, together with growing economic uncertainty, are stalling the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The climate and biodiversity crises, as well as unchecked ecocide, are also impeding progress. In the face of these challenges, or indeed despite them, there was consensus among the participating states and non-state actors on the need to step up efforts to achieve the SDGs.
The 2030 Agenda remains the only global roadmap to overcome the current crises and create more resilient societies. The forum was a first major milestone on the way to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July and the SDG Summit in New York in September. The SDG Summit 2023 will provide new momentum to advance the achievement of the goals and give new impetus to global efforts. The crises are reminders that transformative action requires solidarity, leadership and shared commitment.
Switzerland's co-chairmanship of the Regional Forum has ensured a high level of visibility. At the same time, it allowed Switzerland's priorities to be taken into account, in particular increased involvement of the scientific community and the private and financial sectors. It was an opportunity to reaffirm Switzerland's clear position on the relevance of the 2030 Agenda and the importance of Geneva as a centre for advancing sustainable development.