Source: Small Island Developing States
9 August 2019: In her summary of the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the ECOSOC President reports that discussions at the Forum revealed that the world is not on track to achieve the SDGs by 2030. To correct current trends, she emphasizes that the international community must “move out of its comfort zones” and pursue new ways of collective action “at a much swifter pace.”
The HLPF met from 9-18 July 2019, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, including a three-day ministerial segment from 16-18 July. A total of 47 countries presented voluntary national reviews (VNRs), of which seven presented for the second time. The meeting included in-depth reviews of SDGs 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnership for the Goals). The forum gathered 100 ministers and vice-ministers, heads of UN entities and other organizations, and more than 2,000 representatives of the Major Groups and other stakeholders.
Being the fourth HLPF session since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and completing its first “cycle” of SDG reviews, the meeting also provided an opportunity for governments and stakeholders to review implementation of the Agenda and the performance of the HLPF to date. The HLPF’s deliberations will inform the upcoming SDG Summit, a quadrennial session of the HLPF held under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), from 24-25 September 2019. During the SDG Summit, Heads of State and Government will conduct their first four-year review of progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda and identify measures to accelerate delivery of the Goals.
The summary of the July HLPF shows that, while progress has been made towards a number of Goals and targets, progress is absent or reversed in others, and the world is not on track to meet the SDGs by 2030 or to ensure that no one is left behind. There is overall concern that progress toward the SDGs is too slow and the world is facing setbacks in some areas, such as hunger, while the most vulnerable groups, including women, children, refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and persons with disabilities remain at risk of being left behind.
By the summary, on SDG 4, the HLPF showed that platforms for cooperation, new partnerships, more support for teachers and increased investment in universal quality education and lifelong learning “are imperative.” On SDG 8, new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics offer new challenges and opportunities, and “special efforts” are needed to integrate youth, women and vulnerable groups into the labor market. On SDG 10, inequality between and within countries remains “a major obstacle” to the achievement of the SDGs, with inaction in this area risking “derailing progress on the 2030 Agenda,” and effective polices to reduce inequalities are needed and require partnerships and political will.
As progress on SDG 13 “is falling far short” of what is needed, the implementation of existing commitments on climate action must be accelerated and the level of ambition “raised substantially.” Achieving SDG 16 demands “responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making” at all levels, with efforts also needed to improve data in this area. On SDG 17, as “substantial” gaps remain in financing the Goals, national resource mobilization is needed, including through an enabling environment for private investment, strengthening tax administrations and addressing illicit financial flows (IFFs).
The summary emphasizes that the SDGs must be more systematically incorporated in plans and policies, with a focus on prioritization and the acceleration of progress through interventions that have potential multiplier effects. Investment in data and capacity is needed for adequate measurements to inform policies that ensure no one is left behind, while young people should be involved “in all their diversity” in decision-making, shaping policies from design to implementation, monitoring and review.
The summary provides a more in-depth review of the main messages on each SDG reviewed, as well as the thematic reviews, VNRs, and lessons learned from HLPF’s first cycle.
The ECOSOC President’s summary was drafted with support from five rapporteurs: the Permanent Representatives of Argentina, Bangladesh, Romania and Tanzania, and the SDGs Coordinator from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
EOCOSC has also released the procedural report of HLPF, ‘Report of the high-level political forum on sustainable development convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council at its 2019 session’ (E/HLPF/2019/7).
[Summary by the President of the Economic and Social Council of the high-level political forum on sustainable development convened under the auspices of the Council at its 2019 session (E/HLPF/2019/8)] [IISD Reporting Services Summary of July 2019 HLPF]