With the global community closely watching the 2018 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which is taking place at UN Headquarters from 9-18 July 2018, this brief highlights a selection of reports and papers that correspond to the SDGs under review in New York. Knowledge products focus on water, energy, cities, responsible consumption and production, land use and means of implementation.

Prior to the Forum’s opening, IISD released ‘A Short Guide,’ which introduces readers to the HLPF. Daily coverage by IISD Reporting Services is available here, and additional SDG Knowledge Hub content on the HLPF is here. Individual SDG Knowledge Hub stories on each of the now-concluded in-depth reviews (on SDGs 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17) are also posted below. Recognizing the interlinkages across the SDG framework, the following reports are categorized by the Goal that they most directly address or impact.

Official background notes are also available for each of the SDGs under review, and may be accessed by clicking the links in the headings below. Additional inputs submitted by intergovernmental forums, Major Groups and other stakeholders are available here.

SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

The first in-depth review took place on 9 July 2018, on SDG 6, calling for greater efficiency of water use.

A UN-Water Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation finds that the world is not on track to meet SDG 6. Analyzing global progress towards each target, the report also highlights ways of accelerating progress through integrated water resources management, eliminating inequalities and other means of implementation (MoI). A summary write-up of the report is on the SDG Knowledge Hub here. A guest article also reviews the report, and the role of citizen science in monitoring SDG indicator 6.3.2. A side event on transboundary water cooperation highlighted progress towards 6.5.2, but noted challenges associated with lack of data, particularly around shared aquifers.

A report titled, ‘Global Review of National Accountability Mechanisms for SDG 6,’ commissioned by End Water Poverty & Partners, finds weak accountability mechanisms for water and sanitation, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Based on reviews of 25 countries, the report notes, among other lessons, that few of the countries studied use third party validation, and that civil society involvement should be increased. A write-up of the report and HLPF launch event is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

A second SDG Knowledge Hub guest article on SDG 6 by Emily Walsh, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, highlights the issue of asbestos in US drinking water, outlining how the SDGs can help align efforts.

SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

The in-depth review of SDG 7 took place on 10 July 2018, anticipating the end of coal.

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) launched a report, titled ‘Delivering SDG 7.’ The report identifies current trends on energy use in transportation, noting how it is improving energy efficiency on a country-by-country basis. Working in over 70 countries, GFEI aims to accelerate the transition to zero emissions vehicles and reduce emissions from the freight industry. The report also outlines where references to fuel economy are found in countries’ Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) submitted to the HLPF. A press release on the report is also available.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released a report titled, ‘New Energy Outlook 2018.’ Based on economic analysis, the report projects trends in renewable energy and fossil fuel costs, estimating that more than 50% of energy demands will be satisfied by wind and solar by 2050. A summary write-up is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities

The in-depth review of SDG 11 took place on 11 July 2018, emphasizing the role of cities.

The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) launched a synthesis report, intended to complement the Secretary-General’s overarching progress report on SDG implementation. Titled, ‘Tracking Progress Towards Inclusive, Safe, Resilience and Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements,’ the report’s chapters outline the importance of the urban dimension to the 2030 Agenda; monitoring efforts and methodologies; and the global baseline status of the targets and indicators under SDG 11. A press release is also available, as is a write-up on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

The Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) released an analysis of countries’ 2018 VNRs to highlight the role of the transport sector in achieving the SDGs. The preliminary results show that, despite improving since 2016, there remain gaps on the inclusion of transportation and its contribution to sustainable development, despite the topic being mentioned in 95% of VNRs submitted. The report’s landing page notes that “80% of VNRs refer to the role of sustainable transport in achieving the SDGs but only 12 out of 40 VNRs (30%) offer considerable information with specific cases and policy examples on sustainable transport.” A summary write-up is also available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

The in-depth review of SDG 12 took place on 12 July 2018, calling for circular economies and sustainable lifestyles.

UN Environment has launched a One Planet Strategy. Titled, ‘One Plan for One Planet 5 Year Strategy 2018-2022,’ the document outlines four common operation objectives, strategic principles and approaches across the One Planet network, which was formed to implement the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP) for which UN Environment serves as Secretariat. It also features an overarching logic model, noting the programme’s outputs, outcomes and impacts.

The Plan’s overarching objectives are to: 1) be an effective implementation mechanism of SDG 12; 2) catalyze ambitious action by providing tools and solutions that support the shift to sustainable consumption and production (SCP); 3) lead the cohesive implementation of SCP; and 4) demonstrate the benefits and impacts of SCP and its role in addressing key environmental and social challenges. An overview of side events relating to SCP and SDG12, co-convened by UN Environment and the One Planet network, is available here.

SDG 15 – Life on Land

The in-depth review of SDG 15 took place on 13 July 2018, finding mixed progress.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) released its ‘2018 State of the World’s Forests’ report, which analyzes progress towards sustainable forest management for sub-indicators of SDG 15. The report finds that people who are furthest left behind often live in or near forests. FAO also recognized forests’ role in providing clean water (SDG 6), a source for energy (SDG 7), climate mitigation and adaptation measures (SDG 13), and recreational activities, among other SDGs. A summary write-up is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

The Global Assessment Report was launched by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) at an HLPF side event. Titled, ‘Forest and Water on a Changing Planet: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Governance Opportunities,’ the report articulates the linkages between water management, forests and climate, and answers questions including: do forests matter? Who is responsible and what should be done? How can progress be made and measured? International governance systems and the SDGs, a press release notes, can optimize climate-forest-water relations by creating norms. A summary write-up is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

An SDG Knowledge Hub guest article by Cristiana Pașca Palmer, Convention on Biological Diversity, notes that although there have been increasing commitments to implementing SDG 15, the data on available indicators show decline. She offers a ‘to do’ list for Goal 15. A guest article by experts from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) identifies solutions that can help achieve healthy forests and ecosystems.

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals

The in-depth review of SDG 17 took place on 13 July 2018, warning against trade barriers and calling for the fulfillment of aid commitments.

Launched during the HLPF Partnership Exchange the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and The Partnering Initiative (TPI) published a guidebook that seeks to amplify the benefits of partnerships. Titled, ‘Maximising the Impact of Partnerships for the SDGs,’ the guidebook outlines value added to both society and to individual partner organizations, describing how partnerships can be more than the sum of their parts. A summary write-up is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub.

Released just prior to the HLPF, a paper by authors from the German NGO Forum on Environment and Development, Unfairtobacco, Global Policy Forum, Misereor (German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation), and Bread for the World examines businesses’ contributions to the SDGs. Titled, ‘Highjacking the SDGs? The Private Sector and the Sustainable Development Goals’ the paper notes the difficulties of measuring business engagement with the SDGs, but offers recommendations for policy-makers, businesses and civil society. It features case studies on the financial system—with a focus on bond markets—as well as the tobacco industry. The paper, business-SDG engagement, and findings on the bond market were discussed at an event held at German House on 13 July 2018.

Stay tuned next week for more content released in week 2, as well as coverage of cross-cutting reports and indexes!

Additional issues of the SDG Knowledge Weekly can be found here.