Arab Sustainable Development Report, 2015 (First Edition) [EN/AR]

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Overview

The people of the Arab region face an uncertain future. Millions are fleeing their homes to escape violence and millions more remain trapped by conflict or in occupied territory. The expanding population is placing increasing strain on the environment through unsustainable consumption of limited water supplies and abundant energy resources. The rentier economy that prevails in many countries has proven unable to adapt to new realities or absorb the growing and increasingly youthful labour force.

Nevertheless, the region has a solid base on which to build a better future. Improvements in health care have lead to a life expectancy well above the global average. The population is increasingly educated; school enrolment and adult literacy have improved considerably, especially in the least developed countries (LDCs) and for females. Those accomplishments mean that the region is well placed to meet the challenges of sustainable development that lie ahead.

The region’s challenges and priorities are well reflected in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).1 The SDGs maintain the focus of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda on eradicating poverty in all its forms, emphasizing the interdependence of development issues and covering themes not fully addressed in the MDGs, including equality, governance and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. In the agenda, it is recognized that, although the goals are universal, each country has its own realities, capacities and policies: each country is firmly in the driver’s seat in terms of setting targets, designing policies and monitoring and reporting progress.

At this juncture, the authors of the Arab Sustainable Development Report asked: Where does the Arab region stand with regard to the SDGs and what were the trends over the past two decades? What is hampering sustainable development? Where is the region heading and what alternatives are available in order to bring the SDGs to fruition? This report attempts to provide answers within an integrated framework that places the dignity and wellbeing of people in the region at the heart of its analysis.

**A. Purpose of the document **

This report reviews the current situation in the Arab countries in relation to sustainable development. In particular, it uses regional and global benchmarks to aid in examining progress over the past two decades, trends, and remaining gaps and opportunities. It also includes examples and cases from the region. In the absence, at the time of writing, of globally adopted SDG indicators, authors selected a set of indicators guided by a number of criteria, including data availability for Arab countries, with preference given to the Sustainable Development Indicators for the Arab Region adopted by the League of Arab States.2 Although the report covers the themes of the 17 global SDGs, it emphasizes the issues of highest priority to the Arab region. One aim of this report is to provide national stakeholders with evidence-based information to be used for establishing targets, designing policies and monitoring/reporting progress.

It should also help regional stakeholders to advocate for change.