Thematic review: Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies Perspectives of LDCs, LLDCs and MICs
This thematic review session will evaluate progress and challenges in achieving a transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies in the least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) that face specific challenges that must be prioritized and overcome if no one is to be left behind in reaching the SDGs. It will also address the specific challenges faced by middle-income countries (MICs).

Many countries in special situations are experiencing rapid urbanization, with rural-urban migration expanding the peripheries of many cities. Cities are a critically important context for SDG implementation – they are microcosms for the challenges for implementation in general, they magnify the importance of integrated and rights-based approaches, and they highlight the dangers of ignoring the interlinkages among SDG issues. Many countriesin specialsituations are experiencing a confluence of unplanned urbanization, development within high-risk zones, underdevelopment and poor infrastructure, combined with increased vulnerability to natural hazards and economic shocks.

Sustainable societies require healthy and resilient ecosystems to thrive, yet countries in special situations often suffer disproportionately from deforestation and loss of biodiversity, declining water availability and degraded water quality, land and soil degradation, desertification, and the adverse impacts of climate change including extreme weather events, floods, droughts and cyclones. Successful efforts to halt biodiversity loss, increase sustainable land use and ensure integrated ecosystem management, particularly around the periphery of cities located in biodiversity “hotspots”, are critical for achieving the SDGs, and can serve to drive sustainable and inclusive urban growth by providing opportunities for improving rural livelihoods, which can also impact urban lives and put less pressure on cities.

A specific focus could be placed on urbanization and on ecosystems during this session. While there are approaches and solutions that can work across countries, a differentiated yet integrated approach is often required, since specific issues stand out for each group. In this context, the session may also address progress in areas such as infrastructure, energy, transport, water, technology, sustainable consumption and production, urban-rural linkages, food security, inequality, unplanned urbanization and informal settlements, urban forestry, the role of forestry in alleviating migration to urban spaces, and the need for a territorial systems approach for both urban and rural spaces. It will highlight the interlinkages among the SDGs under review and seek to elicit examples of solutions that these groups of countries have developed to build sustainable and resilient cities that have become refuges for both people and biodiversity.

Proposed guiding questions:

  • What national actions and policies have proven successful in increasing sustainability and resilience, while addressing the impacts of climate change, natural disasters, conflict, and displacement on countries in special situations? How have those been applied in the context of rapid urbanization?
  • What technologies, innovations, and data collection tools have been effective so far for countries in special situations in monitoring and follow-up of the SDGs?
  • Where has progress occurred in strengthening national and local governance, fostering inclusion among local and indigenous communities, and mobilizing resources for implementation?
  • What are the prospect for LDCs, LLDCs and MICsto reach the SDGs and make societies resilient and sustainable?

Chair:

  • H.E. Mr. Marc Pecsteen, Vice-President of ECOSOC

Moderator:

  • Ms. Karin Fernando, Senior Research Professional, Center for Poverty Analysis, Sri Lanka

Panellists:

  • H.E. Mr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister for Environmental Sustainability, Ministry of Agriculture and livestock Resources, Ethiopia
  • Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General and UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
  • Mr. Felipe Castro Pachon, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policy, Colombia
  • Ms. Maruxa Cardama, Senior Policy Specialist, Cities Alliance, Belgium

Lead discussants:

  • Mr. Idriss Maïga Alzouma, President, African Disability Forum (Persons with Disabilities)

Followed by interactive discussion

Biographies
H.E. Mr. Kaba Urgessa
Junior Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia
H.E. Mr. Kaba Urgessa

Junior Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Ethiopia

Dr. Kaba Urgessa is State Minister for Natural Resources, Ministry for Agriculture and Livestock Resources, (MoALR) Ethiopia. Currently he is heading the natural resource section of the MoALR, being mandated for conservation of soil and water, efficient use of irrigation water, land administration and use, soil fertility and climate resilient green economy including climate smart agriculture.

Prior to his current position, Dr. Kaba Urgessa served for six years as Minister of State for Higher Education in the Ministry of Education, Ethiopia. Previously, he held various positions at Jimma University in Ethiopia. He started his professional career as a technical assistant at the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, followed by positions in the educational context as well as a dean and president’s department head of Jimma University.

Dr. Kaba Urgessa holds a BSc, a MSc and a PhD in forestry at three different universities in India.

Mr. Felipe Castro
Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policy, The National Development of Planning, Colombia
Mr. Felipe Castro

Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policy, The National Development of Planning, Colombia

Mr. Idriss Maïga Alzouma
President of African Disability Forum (Persons with Disabilities)
Mr. Idriss Maïga Alzouma

President of African Disability Forum (Persons with Disabilities)

Mr. Idriss Maïga Alzouma became President of the African Disability Forum on March 2017, of which he was the Vice-President since the November 2015 General Assembly. He is the representative of Africa at the board of International Disability Alliance.

A victim of polio at the age of 2 years, he graduated from the 3rd cycle (Baccalauréat + 6 years of studies) of the National School of Administration and Magistrature, taxation option. Chief Inspector of Taxes at the General Direction of Taxes, he is head of tax center of Tillabéri, a region located 120 km from Niamey.

Timidly committed to the voluntary movement of people with disabilities since the 2000s, his struggle to promote the rights of people with disabilities has become a priority since 2006/2007 when, as a young jobseeker, he fought with a firm determination to have the State of Niger recruiting graduates with disabilities since Niger ratified the CRPD. Hence, the gradual taking into account of the needs of people with disabilities because the handicapped youth in which they were watched was respecting the dignity of the State of Niger.

After fighting for the rights of disabled people in Niger, with more listening and attention by the authorities, Mr. Idriss Maïga Alzouma made himself available to the West African movement through the relaunch of the activities of the West African Federation of Disabled (WAFOD) which remained for nearly 10 years in lethargy. So, he became the President of WAFOD in December 2011 and he is in his 2nd and last term.

Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu
United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu

United Nations High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

Ms. ‘Utoikamanu, a Tongan national, took up her appointment as the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States in May 2017. Prior to taking up her position with the United Nations, she was the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Tourism in Tonga.

Ms. ‘Utoikamanu has a wealth of national, regional and international experience at various senior leadership levels. She was previously Acting Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (2015), Deputy Pro-Chancellor and Deputy Chair of the Council of the University of the South Pacific (2009-2016), Deputy Director General and Director of Education, Training and Human Development of the Secretariat of Pacific Community (2009-2015), Permanent Representative and Ambassador of the Government of Tonga to the United Nations, United States of America, Cuba and Venezuela and High Commissioner to Canada (2005-2009), and Secretary for Foreign Affairs and European Commission’s National Authorizing Officer for Tonga (2002-2005).

Ms. Karin Fernando
Center for Poverty Analysis, Sri Lanka
Ms. Karin Fernando

Center for Poverty Analysis, Sri Lanka

Karin Fernando is a Senior Research Professional at the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA). She has over 15 years’ experience in the development sector in project management, implementation, monitoring and evaluation and research. At CEPA she leads the thematic on environment and poverty that aims to provide better integration of environmental factors into decision making, planning and programming at all levels to promote sustainable development. Since 2012 she has been managing an initiative called "Making Sustainability the next metric: the post 2015 Development Agenda" that generates knowledge, creates dialogue and discussion to promote development based on the principles of sustainability. Karin has a MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis University, USA.

Ms. Maruxa Cardama
Secretary General, Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)
Ms. Maruxa Cardama

Secretary General, Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)

Passionate about social, political, economic and environmental justice for human development, Maruxa specialises in integrated urban and territorial development. Over her 17-year career, Maruxa has worked with multilateral institutions, national, regional and local governments, NGOs and philanthropy in 33 countries across continents to develop public policies, capacity and implementation projects, and multi-stakeholder partnerships.
Maruxa currently serves as Secretary General of the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport SLoCaT and has been selected by the UN Department of Global Communications as Chair of the sixty-eighth UN Civil Society Conference that will take place in August 2019 in Salt Lake City, United States. Previously Maruxa founded Communitas, the multi-stakeholder coalition which pioneered knowledge-based advocacy for the Sustainable Development Goal on Cities & Human Settlements. Maruxa also served as the Secretary General of the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD), and during her tenure co-facilitated the engagement of local and regional governments in the UN Rio +20 Conference. She has also held posts as Senior Policy Specialist in Cities Alliance-UNOPS, as well as in local and regional government in the UK and Spain. In 2004-2010, she was Deputy Director of the Representation of the South West of England to the EU, where she led on the sustainability portfolio for a partnership of regional authorities, academia and the private sector.
Prolific public speaker and analyst, Maruxa is member of the Future Earth community. In recent years, she has served in the UCL- Nature Sustainability Expert Panel on the Urban Science-Policy Interface and as Adviser on Global Agendas to the Conference of European Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe CPMR. Her formal training was as a lawyer, as well as in EU law and in development economics.

Statements
Statements
Bangladesh on behalf of LDCs
Mr. Idriss Maïga Alzouma, President, African Disability Forum (Persons with Disabilities)
Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, Under-Secretary-General and UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
Philippines
Qatar
Presentations
H.E. Mr. Kaba Urgessa, State Minister for Environmental Sustainability, Ministry of Agriculture and livestock Resources, Ethiopia
Mr. Felipe Castro Pachon, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policy, Colombia
Ms. Maruxa Cardama, Senior Policy Specialist, Cities Alliance, Belgium
United Nations