ECOSOC President’s Summaries Suggest Way Forward for HLPF
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The President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Martin Sajdik, has issued the President's Summaries of the 2015 session of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) and of the ECOSOC high-level segment.

The document notes that the HLPF, at its 2016 session, could elaborate further on the review architecture and its functioning, based on an exchange of experiences on the elaboration of national strategies to implement the agenda, as well as on feedback from the regions on their approach to reviewing progress.

ECOSOC13 July 2015: The President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Martin Sajdik, has issued the President’s Summaries of the 2015 session of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) and of the ECOSOC high-level segment. The document notes that the HLPF, at its 2016 session, could elaborate further on the review architecture and its functioning, based on an exchange of experiences on the elaboration of national strategies to implement the agenda, as well as on feedback from the regions on their approach to reviewing progress.

The HLPF discussed ‘Strengthening integration, implementation and review: the HLPF after 2015’ from 26 June to 8 July 2015. The ECOSOC high-level segment considered ‘Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): What it will take?’ on 9 and 10 July 2015. Both meetings took place in New York, US.

The HLPF summary includes five sections focusing on: general messages; implementation; follow-up and review, science and data; means of implementation; and integration.

On general messages, the summary outlines functions and characteristics that the HLPF should have, including: providing political leadership, guidance and recommendations on sustainable development; playing a critical role in reviewing progress made towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and helping ensure accountability on implementation; addressing issues where implementation of the goals is off-track; stimulating and facilitating collaboration for implementation; responding to new and emerging challenges; promoting the science-policy interface; considering the particular challenges of small island developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Africa and the special needs faced by Middle Income Countries (MICs); assessing the long term impact of policies and trends, and focusing on building resilience; serving as an “early warning system” for international action; and building on the work of other platforms and bodies, notably ECOSOC and its whole system. According to the summary, the HLPF should also be: solution-oriented; forward looking; flexible enough to remain relevant for the whole period of implementation of the SDGs; and a place where the international community looks at the “big picture.”

On implementation, the HLPF summary notes that several countries have already started to adapt their legal and policy frameworks to integrate the SDGs, and calls for leaving no one behind and giving due attention to marginalized and disadvantaged groups. It also stresses the importance of: communicating the SDGs so as to “inspire billions of people everywhere to take ownership and implement the agenda”; translating the SIDS ACCELERATED MODALITIES OF ACTION (SAMOA) Pathways vision into action; creating a multi-level architecture that can support implementation; and ensuring system-wide coherence and complementarity between the HLPF and other existing bodies and institutions, “notably ECOSOC”.

On a follow-up and review mechanism, the summary states that: countries should have the flexibility to determine how to approach the review in light of their national circumstances, but “comparability must be ensured”; and regional reviews can foster the translation of the SDGs into integrated national policies, and support common solutions to common challenges. At the global level, the summary suggests that all countries should report to the HLPF on their progress on all aspects of the post-2015 development agenda, with “ideally” each State volunteering to participate in this process at least twice by 2030. It adds that the HLPF should provide space for thematic platforms to showcase best practices and lessons learned, and that thematic reviews should look at nexus of topics or cross-cutting issues, and examine the links between various goals.

The summary highlights the importance of using disaggregated data, linking the SDGs with multi-dimensional measures of development and poverty, and exploiting the possibilities of “big data.”

The summary also calls for reflecting traditional knowledge and various perspectives as part of the science-policy dialogue of the HLPF. It notes that the inclusive approach taken by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) for preparing the 2015 edition of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR) was welcomed. It adds that the report should: continue to be produced in collaboration with all relevant UN agencies, scientists and experts and draw from peer-reviewed sources; avoid duplication of other reports; be clearly linked to the implementation, follow-up and review of the SDGs; and focus in particular on the interlinkages of the SDGs and on the identification of emerging issues.

On means of implementation (MOI), the summary focuses on financing, partnerships, technology, capacity building, training and learning. It calls for channeling resources in the right way, ensuring sustainable development impact, and providing incentives for innovation. It suggests that the HLPF review the contribution of partnerships, and develop appropriate partnership criteria or frameworks. It also highlights the need to: transfer knowledge and technology, including gender-sensitive and equitable technology, particularly in LDCs and Africa; and to strengthen capacity building “in countries lagging behind in science, technology, statistics and many other areas.”

Outlining the importance of considering synergies and trade-offs when implementing the SDGs, the summary notes that ingredients of success for integrated approaches include: bold political leadership; adequate institutions in government vested with enough authority to ensure that the new approach is implemented and silo approach is avoided; active engagement of local actors; flexible funding mechanisms “cutting across the silos; and quick, early wins in order to demonstrate success.” It adds that the HLPF could provide guidance to UN coordination structures such as UN-Water and UN-Energy, and could address “orphan issues from the SDGs that do not have a clear home in the UN.” It also calls for: incorporating Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in budget and planning systems; and for involving citizen, empowering local governmental as well as the private sector to shift towards more SCP patterns.

The ECOSOC high-level segment summary focuses on the Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC and discusses: the MDG review; the transition from MDGs to SDGs; the state of the global economy and trade; and building institutions and capacities. It reports that more than 60 countries have participated in the ECOSOC’s National Voluntary Presentations (NVPs) since 2007. The summary also outlines “critical lessons from the MDG process that would be instructive for the SDGs,” such as: defining specific milestones in the course of development planning, with clear monitoring and evaluation systems and criteria; and strengthening institutional mechanisms of the State, including parliaments so as to enhance engagement in national priority setting, implementation, oversight and review.

On the post-2015 development agenda, the summary notes that some countries expressed concern that “both attention and resources may become thinly dispersed across the broader and more complex demands” of the agenda. [ECOSOC President Summaries] [Meeting Webpage] [IISD RS Coverage of the Meeting]


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