SDG 4 Dialogue Kicks off HLPF Prep Series
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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The meeting was the first in a series of breakfast dialogues on the 2030 Agenda, each of which will have a focus on one of the SDGs under review at the HLPF when it meets in July 2019.

The Bahá'í International Community is organizing the dialogues in partnership with civil society stakeholders and in collaboration with DESA.

The SDG 4 breakfast dialogue was co-convened by the Bahá’í International Community, WaterAid, and the Education and Academia Stakeholder Group, in collaboration with DESA's Division for Sustainable Development Goals.

27 November 2018: Stakeholders held a dialogue on progress towards SDG 4 (quality education), discussing the 2019 edition of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report and key points for consideration during the upcoming in-depth review of Goal 4 at the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The meeting was the first in a series of breakfast dialogues on the 2030 Agenda, each of which will have a focus on one of the SDGs under review at the HLPF when it meets in July 2019. The Bahá’í International Community is organizing the dialogues in partnership with civil society stakeholders and in collaboration with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Each dialogue takes place prior to an expert group meeting on the same Goal, with the EGMs being organized by DESA. The SDG 4 EGM convened from 3-5 December 2018, in Brussels, Belgium.

The SDG 4 breakfast dialogue was co-convened by the Bahá’í International Community, WaterAid, and the Education and Academia Stakeholder Group, in collaboration with DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDGs). Opening comments featured Verónica Cordova Soria, Permanent Mission of Bolivia, and Lily Gray, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It was noted that SDG 4 is the best example of how it is impossible to achieve one Goal without achieving the others, with speakers noting that quality education is needed in order to alleviate hunger, achieve gender equality, and bring about peace and justice. A challenge facing mobilizing around Goal 4 is that there are different views on the meaning of “quality education.” It was also noted that in low-income and developing countries, governments sometimes frame education ambition around access, rather than quality. It was also argued that the human right to education is being challenged, with some framing it instead as a private commodity.

In an open discussion moderated by Kathryn Tobin, WaterAid, participants addressed follow-up and review mechanisms for SDG 4. They asked how the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) presented at the HLPF each July can make a difference for people in the respective country, noting that often “the people in greatest need have the least voice.” Another said that while the July meeting of the HLPF is seen as the key moment for review of an SDG, preparatory processes can yield more meaningful discussions and analysis.

The 2019 GEM report released by UNESCO, highlights of which were shared during the breakfast meeting, focuses on refugee and migrant children’s right to quality education. The report cautions that immigrants can be “nominally included but practically excluded” by attending under-resourced schools in difficult neighborhoods, or by being kept too long in preparatory classes or placed in slower school tracks, which then compromises subsequent opportunities. In the EU, it reports, twice as many foreign-born children left school early in 2017 compared to native children.

On SDG 4, the report states that the international community “is honing its SDG 4 monitoring tools” and makes recommendations for new methods. It also recommends: understanding and planning to meet the education needs of migrants and displaced people; representing migration and displacement histories accurately in education to challenge prejudices; preparing teachers of refugees and migrants to address hardship and diversity; supporting education needs of migrants and displaced people in humanitarian and development aid; and harnessing the potential of migrants and displaced people.

The next EGMs for the SDGs under review in 2019 will take place in March and April, as follows:

  • SDG 10 (reduced inequalities): 27-28 March 2019, Accra, Ghana;
  • SDG 13 (climate action): 1-3 April 2019, Copenhagen, Denmark;
  • SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions): 3-5 April, Rome, Italy;
  • SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth): 4-5 April, Geneva, Switzerland; and
  • SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals): 12 April, New York, US.

These Goals will be the subject of in-depth reviews during the first week of the HLPF. The 2019 session of the HLPF will convene from 9-18 July, in New York, US. [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]


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