UNIDO, African Union to share Quality Infrastructure best practices for sustainable development
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in cooperation with the African Union Commission (AUC), held the first ever International Quality Infrastructure (QI) Forum to focus on the contribution of QI to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The Forum also showcased how the private sector can contribute to the achievement of the SDGs through the adoption of sustainability standards.
“QI would allow African businesses to compete abroad, to create more wealth and thus more jobs,” said AU Ambassador, Ahmat Awad Sakine, Permanent Representative to the European Union and the ACP Group in his opening remarks. “At a time when economic relations and the globalization of trade impose the respect of international standards, it goes without saying that QI represents the key to Africa’s growth and development in a globalized world.”
UNIDO Managing Director Philippe Scholtès added that: "QI is vital to verify and ensure compliance of products and services with quality standards and market requirements, and therefore to unleash potential, enhance competitiveness and create a virtuous cycle of growth to support sustainable development."
The Forum set the scene for future collaboration on QI and served to identify priority interventions for the development of QI systems within the framework of the AfCFTA in support of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa 2016 -2025 (IDDA III).
European Commission's Director General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO), Stefano Manservisi, said: “The EU is one of the major contributors worldwide in terms of QI and is ready to support African countries even further in their endeavour to achieve the SDGs.”
The Forum’s technical sessions focused on how to steer African regional quality infrastructure development within the AfCFTA towards the SDGs. The participants also discussed the importance of good governance and quality policy dialogue for building a robust QI.
“Good governance of quality policy development is critical to ensure QI systems fit the needs of national development and address challenges in industrial development, trade, consumer protection, environment protection and innovation,” said Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Trade, Innovation and Investment. “Our role is to advocate and promote the quality policy dialogue and involve government practitioners with moving the Agenda 2030 forward.”
In his closing remarks, Patrick Gilabert, UNIDO Representative to the European Union and the ACP Group, said that: “The Forum served as a platform to disseminate knowledge and good practices in an effort to remove trade barriers; assist SMEs’ access to better QI services; support funds mobilization for investing in QI in developing countries; provide technical assistance and tools to developing countries to allow them to connect to global value chains and international markets; and promote sustainable development to achieve SDGs.”
The Forum brought together around 140 participants from across Europe and Africa, including representatives of international quality infrastructure governance bodies and practitioners as well as stakeholders representing international, national and regional authorities, industry, civil society and academia.