Thematic review: Implementing the SDGs: lessons from the regions
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes the importance of action at the regional and sub-regional levels to contextualize and accelerate the implementation of the SDGs and ensure effective monitoring of progress. Regional commissions support peer-learning among countries and stakeholders, capacity-building and the development of integrated solutions to address trans-boundary challenges. In this context, the regional level serves as important nexus to strengthen feedback loops from the national to the global levels, and vice versa.

The session on “Implementing the SDGs: Lessons from the regions” will feature the Executive Secretaries of the five Regional Commissions, who will, under the general theme of the HLPF “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies” present a diversity of regional perspectives, share examples of best practices and experiences, and provide policy recommendations for action at national, regional and global level. Building on the broader thematic and SDG-focused discussions held during the first part of the week, the session will look at regional trends, thus serving as background to the presentation of Voluntary National Reviews during the second week of the HLPF. The session will also support inter-regional peer learning at the HLPF. During the session, Executive Secretaries will engage in an interactive discussion with Member States, representatives of regional and sub-regional governmental organizations, major groups and other stakeholders.

Expected outcomes: Based on latest data and analysis, Member States and other stakeholders will gain a better understanding of regional trends, progress achieved, persistent challenges and opportunities for action in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the regions.

Proposed guiding questions:

  • What are the key challenges and opportunities for action to accelerate progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the regional level?
  • What policy approaches applied in the regions are yielding positive results in addressing the SDGs under review?
  • What are the latest trends in the regions in the mobilization of financial resources and other means of implementation (trade, technology)?
  • How is regional, South-South and triangular cooperation evolving in support of the 2030 Agenda?
  • What types of partnerships are being formed at the regional level and could be replicated across regions?
  • How can the regional commissions better support countries in the achievement of their sustainable development agendas?

Chair:

  • H.E. Mr. Jerry Matthews Matjila, Vice-President of ECOSOC

Panellists:

Executive Secretaries from the Regional Commissions

  • Ms. Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC
  • Ms. Vera Songwe, ECA
  • Mr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim, ESCWA
  • Ms. Olga Algayerova, ECE
  • Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, ESCAP (Deputy)

Lead discussants:

  • Ms. Tatyana Valovaya, Member of the Board (Minister) of the Eurasian Economic Commission
  • Ms. Alma Sinumlag, Programme Officer, Cordillera Women Education and Action Research Center (Asia-Pacific Civil Society Mechanism)

Followed by interactive discussion
Biographies
Mr. Kaveh Zahedi
Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development, ESCAP
Mr. Kaveh Zahedi

Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development, ESCAP

Kaveh Zahedi is the Deputy Executive Secretary for Sustainable Development of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP). He oversees ESCAP’s work on social development, environment, energy, disaster risk management and information communications and technology.
Prior to ESCAP, Mr. Zahedi was Regional Director and Representative for Asia and the Pacific of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He managed UNEP’s technical and policy support programmes and represented the organization in the region.
Mr. Zahedi has previously served as Deputy Director of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP-DTIE), overseeing work on green economy, resource efficiency and climate change. At UNEP-DTIE he also set up and headed the Climate and Clean Air Coalition for reducing short lived climate pollutants.
Over two decades Mr. Zahedi worked in UNEP’s offices in Kenya, Mexico, UK, France and Thailand. Before UNEP, Mr. Zahedi worked at an NGO as project manager for micro credit and development projects.
An Iranian and British national, he holds a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, USA, and a BSc first class degree in Economics & Geography, from University College London.
Twitter: @donkaveh1
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/Kaveh-Zahedi-ESCAP-DES
Website: http://www.unescap.org/

Mr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim
Executive Secretary/ESCWA
Mr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim

Executive Secretary/ESCWA

The United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, has announced the appointment of Mohamed Ali Alhakim, a national of Iraq, as Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

Mr. Alhakim brings to the position 37 years of government and diplomatic experience, and a deep knowledge of the issues confronting the Arab region.

As Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations in New York and Geneva, he worked directly with numerous United Nations bodies, notably in the development and follow-up of the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. Alhakim has held several senior government positions in Iraq, including those of Minister of Telecommunications, Acting Minister of Finance and Deputy Secretary-General of the Iraqi Governing Council. He has worked at the international level to raise funds for rebuilding efforts in Iraq, notably in Mosul and Najaf. He brings a wealth of experience from his activities in the private sector as a technology consultant and entrepreneur. He has also lectured and conducted research at universities in Iraq, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Mr. Alhakim holds a Doctorate in Management of Engineering from the University of Southern California, United States of America; a Master of Science and Technology from the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom; and a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Statistics from Al-Mustansiriya University, Iraq.

Ms. Alicia Bárcena
Executive Secretary of ECLAC and coordinator of the Regional Commissions
Ms. Alicia Bárcena

Executive Secretary of ECLAC and coordinator of the Regional Commissions

On 13 May 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General announced the appointment of Alicia Bárcena Ibarra of Mexico as Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Ms. Bárcena Ibarra, who assumed her new position on 1 July 2008, replaced Mr. José Luis Machinea of Argentina.

Ms. Bárcena Ibarra served as the Chef de Cabinet to the former Secretary-General before serving as the Under-Secretary-General for Management.

Earlier in her career, Ms. Bárcena Ibarra served as Deputy Executive Secretary of ECLAC, and in this capacity she contributed substantively and increased interagency collaboration to provide a regional perspective on the Millennium Development Goals and on Financing for Sustainable Development, connecting issues of inequality, poverty, economic development and sustainability with the required fiscal policies needed to address extreme poverty.

As Chief of the Environment and Human Settlements Division of ECLAC, she heightened the profile of the Regional Commission in the areas of climate change, sustainable energy, fiscal policies and environment. She previously served as Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as Adviser to the Latin American and Caribbean Sustainable Development Programme in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

She was part of the Secretariat that was in charge of preparing the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. She was Principal Officer in charge of various topics related to Agenda 21 and was also the Founding Director of the Earth Council in Costa Rica.

Previously, she served in the Government of Mexico as the first Vice-Minister of Ecology and as Director-General of the National Institute of Fisheries.

In the academic arena, Ms. Bárcena Ibarra was the Director of the South-East Regional Centre of the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones sobre Recursos Bióticos in the State of Yucatán, working closely with the Mayan communities. She has taught and researched on natural sciences, mostly on botany, ethnobotany and ecology. She has published a number of articles on sustainable development, namely on financing, public policies, environment and public participation.

Ms. Bárcena Ibarra holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

Ms. Bárcena Ibarra was born in 1952.

Ms. Alma Sinumlag
Programme Officer, Cordillera Women Education and Action Research Center (Asia-Pacific Civil Society Mechanism)
Ms. Alma Sinumlag

Programme Officer, Cordillera Women Education and Action Research Center (Asia-Pacific Civil Society Mechanism)

Ms. Sinumlag is a Kalinga-Igorot activist from the Cordillera, Philippines. She has been working for indigenous peoples rights and women's rights for 12 years. She is serving as the Research and Publications coordinator of the Cordillera Women's Education Action Research Center (CWEARC) since 2012. She is also part of the Feminist Participatory Action Research (FPAR) that exposed the rights violations of Chevron against the indigenous peoples rights to free prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the indigenous peoples rights to self determination in the company's plan to set up a geothermal power plant in the ancestral territory of the Kalinga people. She has also been engaging in several UN mechanisms to expose and draw support for the women human rights defenders (WHRDs) and indigenous peoples human rights defenders (IPHRDs) under attack because of their work towards a just just and sustainable future.

Ms. Olga Algayerova
Executive Secretary of ECE
Ms. Olga Algayerova

Executive Secretary of ECE

Ms. Olga Algayerova is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Algayerova is a graduate of the University of Malta and the Open University Business School, and holds a master's degree in contemporary diplomacy and an Engineer of Economy diploma from the University of Economics Business Faculty, Bratislava.

Prior to her appointment, she served as Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the International Organizations in Vienna, Austria (since 2012). She was previously President, Slovak Millennium Development Goals (2010-2012); State Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2006-2010) and Corporate Export Manager, Zentiva International (2004-2006).

Ms. Tatyana Valovaya
Member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission
Ms. Tatyana Valovaya

Member of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission

Ms. Tatiana Valovaya was born on April, 11, 1958 in Moscow. In 1980 she graduated from Moscow Financial Institute, faculty of the international economic relations. From 1989 to 1994 – member of the Permanent Mission of the USSR and the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the European Union (Brussels), responsible for economic and monetary affairs. Later Ms. Valovaya held different positions in the Ministries of the Russian Federation and Administration of the President of the Russian Federation. From 2001 to 2012 – Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Ph.D. in Economics, professor of the Financial University (Moscow). Author of numerous publications on international economic relations, regional economic and monetary integration and history of Europe and Eurasia. Fluent in English and French.

Ms. Vera Songwe
Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa
Ms. Vera Songwe

Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa

Ms. Songwe brings to the position a longstanding track record of policy advice and results oriented implementation in the region, coupled with a demonstrated strong and clear strategic vision for the continent. She is currently Regional Director Africa covering West and Central Africa for the International Finance Corporation (since 2015) and non-resident Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institute: Global Development and Africa Growth Initiative (since 2011). She was previously Country Director for Senegal, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania at the World Bank (2012-2015), Adviser to the Managing Director of the World Bank for Africa, Europe and Central Asia and South Asia Regions (2008-2011) and Lead Country Sector Coordinator and Senior Economist, Philippines (2005-2008). She joined the World Bank as a Young Professional.

Born in 1968, she holds a Ph.D. in Mathematical Economics, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics, a Master of Arts in Law and Economics and a Diplôme D'Etudes Approfondies in Economic Sciences and Politics from the Université Catholique De Louvain, and a Bachelors of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Michigan. She is also a graduate of Our Lady of Lourdes College in Cameroon.

Statements
Statements
Ms. Alma Sinumlag, Programme Officer, Cordillera Women Education and Action Research Center (Asia-Pacific Civil Society Mechanism)
Ms. Tatyana Valovaya, Member of the Board (Minister) of the Eurasian Economic Commission
Presentations
Mr. Kaveh Zahedi, ESCAP (Deputy)
Mr. Mohamed Ali Alhakim, ESCWA
Ms. Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC
Ms. Olga Algayerova, ECE
Ms. Vera Songwe, ECA
United Nations