20 November 2023, Geneva, Switzerland –  UNITAR celebrated the 20th anniversary of the CIFAL Global Network (CGN) since its creation in 2003. Thirty CIFAL training centres gathered at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to celebrate two decades of building capacities in support of local sustainable development and to collectively define a roadmap for the upcoming years.

Between 13 and 15 November 2023 and in the framework of the 20th anniversary, UNITAR hosted its annual Steering Committee Meeting of the CGN to review the results and accomplishments in the past year and set priorities for 2024.

CIFAL centres serve as hubs for the exchange of knowledge among government officials, the private sector, academia and civil society in key areas related to sustainable development. By the end of 2023, the CGN aims to deliver 422 activities reaching close to 90,000 beneficiaries (with 88,074 beneficiaries reported to date).  In the past decade, between 2013 and 2023, the CGN has reached 444,875 beneficiaries globally.

The Steering Committee Meeting was inaugurated by Mr. Nikhil Seth, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNITAR Executive Director who highlighted the important role that each CIFAL Centre has in empowering local and subnational governments to bring implementation of the SDGs to the ground level.

Mr. Seth stressed during his remarks:

The CGN continues to serve as an instrumental platform to build capacities and share good practices in critical areas”

H.E. Ambassador Luis Gallegos, Chair of the Board of Trustees of UNITAR made an urgent call to the CIFAL Centres to work on :

“peace and security, and conflict prevention”

H.E Ambassador Luis Gallegos congratulates them for the work done, encouraging them to continue to collaborate to achieve greater impact.

Three special events took place on the sidelines of the Steering Committee Meeting. The Dialogue “Harnessing Science and Academia for SDG Action” was held on 15 November, bringing together 14 universities hosting CIFAL centres to pinpoint high-impact areas for implementing the SDGs and strengthen collaborative efforts amongst universities in support of vulnerable groups.

Also, on 15 November, the event “Localizing the SDGs – Initiatives of the CIFAL Global Network”. Directors of CIFAL Centres presented examples of initiatives that support local governments and key stakeholders to help advance the Goals at the local level. As stated by Prof. Mpilo Ngubane, Director of CIFAL Durban in South Africa:

“localization refers to how municipalities can implement the SDGs by integrating them into their planning, budgeting, governance and service delivery processes”.

In promoting the goals locally, youth play a critical role. In this line, CIFAL Victoria shared student-led initiatives to mobilize communities, enhance awareness and promote actions in support of climate change.

On 14 November, the event “PCA2030 Trajectory: Pitch Presentation of Company Best Practices and the First SDG Ambassadors” took place to share impact stories of companies championing the SDGs and their sustainability trajectory. Bringing together a delegation of 25 participants including board members, stakeholders, partners and the team of CIFAL Flanders.

In addition, the “Mentoring Programme: Accelerating Impact” was formally launched by UNITAR with four members who will serve as Mentors to share experiences and lessons learned in managing a CIFAL Centre.

The event concluded with a renewed commitment to continue promoting knowledge exchange, building capacities and fostering multi-stakeholder partnerships in support of sustainable development with special emphasis at the local level.


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