The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) considered and declined a proposal to hold an exceptional meeting of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to discuss the draft ministerial declaration of the HLPF session that convened in July 2020.

Leading up to the 2020 HLPF session, UN Member States attempted to remotely negotiate the ministerial declaration to be adopted during the HLPF’s closing session. However, they were unable to reach agreement on a final text within the time frame of the session. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reported that this has become the norm, but if the meeting had been taking place in person, governments would have been able to adopt it by a vote. “In the absence of online voting procedures, the adoption of the declaration had to be deferred.” Negotiations between Member States resumed after the session, but no agreement was found.

On 8 September, the Group of 77 developing countries and China (G-77/China) tabled a proposal (E/2021/L.8) for a meeting of the HLPF and ECOSOC on an exceptional basis to reconsider the draft, “as early as possible during the 2021 session of the Council.”

In the plenary meeting on 14 September 2020, the Council took up the draft decision but did not adopt it. Delegations raised procedural concerns about an exceptional session, and noted that by the current rules, a ministerial declaration should only be considered once per ECOSOC cycle.

Among other objections, Germany for the EU said the text proposed by the G-77/China does not match the document placed under silence procedure during the 2020 session; Canada cautioned against rushing negotiations on such an important text; and Australia said the way forward is to focus on the 2021 HLPF session.

ECOSOC President Munir Akram agreed to pursue consultations with interested delegations and seek advice from the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs. [UN meeting summary] [ECOSOC meeting record]