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UNFPA Representative in Egypt Frederika Meijer highlighted the importance of local strategies in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in a panel discussion at Expo 2020 Dubai on November 1.

“Development is not a linear process,” Meijer said, “It requires local strategies informed by local realities.”

She added that “bottom up” approaches are more favorable than “trickle down” approaches when it comes to development. 

Panelists shared experiences, best practices and lessons learnt in localizing the SDGs, namely within the framework of the Decent Life (Haya Karima) presidential initiative.

The panel brought together relevant stakeholders including Dr. Magued Osman, CEO of the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research "Baseera," Dr. Heba Moghaib, Head of the Regional Planning Sector at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Dr. Gamil Helmy, Assistant Minister of Planning and Economic Development for monitoring, Dr. Khaled Zakaria, Head of the Macroeconomic Policies Center at the Institute of National Planning in Egypt and Ms. Sarah ElBatouty, ECOnsult Chairman.

Meijer relayed UNFPA’s work specifically, and the United Nation’s work as a whole, towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.

She explained that the UN works towards a common country analysis that is well informed by data. 

“The different UN agencies work jointly to strengthen programs,” she said, “the UN also jointly supports the Haya Kareema initiative.”

Meijer highlighted that people are at the heart of UNFPA’s mandate and together with UNICEF, WHO and WFP, it works to bring change for people on the ground.

Meijer also referenced UNFPA’s launch of “Noura” and the Girls Assets Framework, a symbol for adolescent girls in Egypt – at the heart of the SDGs.

“We know that if you invest in girls, it really pays off,” she said, “If Noura is empowered, it is not only for herself but for her community and country as a whole.”

Meijer explained that communities with more gender equality make much more progress in development.

The Decent Life Initiative an initiative endorsed by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, with the main objective of improving the quality of life in rural communities within the framework of the Sustainable Development Strategy.

In 2017, UNFPA Egypt commissioned a study to set quantitative local targets to a number of SDGs indicators at the governorate level for 11 SDGs. UNFPA, together with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development then set to roll out the localization project by building the capacity of local planners in all 27 governorates.

UNFPA and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development jointly develop 27 annual reports that aim to provide an overview of the status of SDG indicators at the governorate level and to highlight the priority goals.

Meijer highlighted the importance of ensuring government commitment and prioritization of local governance, providing practical solutions and hands on technical support to local governments and local planners, ensuring SDGs localization is a living process and create local Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and addressing challenges around availability of local data and leveraging the different UN agencies support

She also underlined the necessity of engaging young people in the development process.

Egypt is one of 192 countries participating at Expo Dubai 2020, with Egypt’s pavilion expected to attract 2.5 million visitors over a period of 6 months.

The theme for Expo 2020 is "Connecting Minds, Creating the Future," with three sub-themes: Sustainability, Mobility and Opportunity.