At stake in UN Member States' review of the HLPF is an annual thematic review of SDG 16 and its components of peace, justice, and inclusive societies.
This will help realize the 2030 Agenda’s universal vision with scale and ambition, balancing all dimensions of sustainable development and ensuring we leave no country and no one behind.
SDG 16’s focus on improving responsive and accountable governance and strengthening institutions at all levels is critical to implementing the 2030 Agenda as a whole.
By the SDG 16+ Community
This week the world marked the first anniversary since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. One year on, the pandemic has exposed striking vulnerabilities in all corners of the world, given the destabilizing impacts and grave risks it has brought. It has become abundantly clear that effective, accountable governance is a fundamental pre-requisite for building back better.
This week also witnesses discussions on the review of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). At stake is the annual thematic review of SDG 16 and its components of peace, justice, and inclusive societies. We, the SDG 16+ Global Coalition, a group over 100 partners and 40 countries, encourage Member States to consider reviewing SDG 16 annually at the HLPF. This affirms that SDG16 strongly links with all other goals, in line with the integrated and indivisible nature of the 2030 Agenda. A thematic review of SDG 16 at each forthcoming HLPF will also help realize the Agenda’s universal vision with scale and ambition, balancing all dimensions of sustainable development and ensuring we should leave no country and no one behind.
Today, progress towards SDG 16 is backsliding. In light of this, an annual review of SDG 16 at every HLPF is highly warranted. It will provide much-needed opportunities for the international community to demonstrate measurable progress on peace, justice, and inclusion and explore the vast interlinkages that SDG 16 has with all other SDGs. SDG 16’s focus on improving responsive and accountable governance and strengthening institutions at all levels is critical to implementing the 2030 Agenda as a whole. Additionally, as the 2022 and 2023 HLPF themes will focus on response, recovery, and resilience from the COVID-19 crisis, SDG 16 must lie at the heart of the discussion and governments’ efforts to rebuild following from the pandemic.
The 9 March and 17 March drafts of the UNGA resolution on the HLPF review are encouraging. They include language supporting an annual SDG 16 Thematic Review and important language on how governments should undertake ambitious and action-oriented Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and commit to improving SDG progress in all areas. This specificity represents a significant opportunity to initiate a “race to the top” for more ambitious VNRs that aspire to impact national development planning processes.
Room for improvement remains, however, in other areas of the draft resolution. In particular, further detail is needed in how the HLPF should improve and enhance stakeholder participation. Accelerating action on all 17 Goals is only possible through strengthened partnerships between national governments, local authorities, international and regional institutions, civil society, the private sector, and other groups. Taken together, targets covered under SDG 16 encourage partnerships and collaborative efforts to implement the evidence-based policies needed to build peaceful, just, and inclusive societies. Without significant efforts to bolster stakeholder engagement at the HLPF, essential voices and perspectives are at risk of being left behind during a time where accelerated actions and mutual accountability are needed more than ever.
As the SDG16+ Community, we remain steadfast in our commitment to improving the HLPF’s working methods and effectiveness as a platform. We believe this is key to invigorating further action and engagement on SDG 16 and, ultimately, progress towards the 2030 Agenda. We stand ready and willing to engage in an HLPF that we hope will be strengthened through this resolution.
This article is authored by the SDG 16+ Community: Transparency, Accountability and Participation Network, Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, 16+ Forum, the Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies and the Global Alliance for Reporting Progress on Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies. Please contact HLPF2021@sdg16.plus for any inquiries.