The workshop ‘Preparing for the two HLPF Meetings in 2019: Institutions and Inequality’ was organized by the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development in cooperation with DESA's Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development, and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria.
The meeting considered: the importance of SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and other SDGs for achieving the 2030 Agenda, with a particular attention to climate justice; the impact of regional governance and institutional approaches on SDG Implementation; and achieving the Agenda's 2020 and 2025 targets.
29 March 2019: During a workshop of the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development, governments, UN officials and stakeholders discussed institutional arrangements to achieve the 2030 Agenda and options to address the SDG targets with a 2020 or 2025 timeframe. The workshop was organized in preparation for the two meetings of the UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) that will take place in July and September 2019.
In resolutions 67/290 and 70/299, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) agreed that every four years, the HLPF would meet under the auspices of the UNGA at the level of Heads of State and Government, in addition to the yearly HLPF convened by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) each July. The HLPF meeting under the UNGA, referred to as the ‘SDG Summit,’ will be the first summit-level meeting on the 2030 Agenda since its adoption in September 2015, and will take place from the afternoon of 24 September to 25 September 2019. The HLPF convened under ECOSOC will take place from 9-18 July 2019, and will consider the theme ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’
The workshop ‘Preparing for the two HLPF Meetings in 2019: Institutions and Inequality’ was organized by the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development in cooperation with the Office of Intergovernmental Support and Coordination for Sustainable Development (OISC) in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria.
Taking place on 29 March 2019, in New York, US, the workshop considered: the importance of SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and other SDGs for achieving the 2030 Agenda, with a particular attention to climate justice; the impact of regional governance and institutional approaches on SDG implementation; and achieving the SDGs’ 2020 and 2025 targets.
According to the presentations available on the meeting’s webpage, Michael Dorsey, Club of Rome, reported that within the current decade, over three billion people in developing countries could be affected by climate-related disasters. Among other targets that could provide opportunities for climate justice, he cited SDG target 16.6 (develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels); SDG target 16.7 (ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels; and SDG target 16.8 (broaden and strengthen the participation of developing countries in the institutions of global governance). He characterized climate justice as a way to safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable and share the burdens and benefits of climate change and its resolution equitably and fairly, as defined the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.
Irena Zubcevic, OISC, presented a three tier-approach for the operationalization of the 2030 Agenda in countries, namely: a broad vision and strategic policy direction, national priorities, and the integration of global commitments and frameworks (first tier); coordination among line ministries and government agencies, and capacity strengthening to implement the 2030 Agenda (second tier); and the coordination of technical work, usually including government and non-state actors (third tier). She noted the need to have coordinating mechanisms at multiple levels of government, including with local governments (vertical integration), to involve parliaments, and to engage supreme audit institutions (SAIs) and stakeholders.
Zubcevic also discussed national ownership of the 2030 Agenda, saying it is about: ensuring that “all in society” are made aware of it and are brought fully on board; awareness raising and the dissemination of SDG information throughout all branches and levels of government, and among stakeholders; and keeping the Goals and targets under constant national review and ensuring the sustained involvement of all stakeholders, including through monitoring and review mechanisms. She outlined SDG implementation key challenges, such as policy coherence and multi-sectoral coordination, and monitoring the impact of changes in institutions.
On the impact of regional governance and institutional approaches on SDG implementation, Ruben Zondervan, Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, introduced a report titled, ‘Europe’s Approach to Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: Good Practices and the Way Forward.’ Among other observations, he noted that only a few of the 28 European countries examined in the study have defined quantified and time-bound targets to achieve the SDGs nationally, and even fewer have put in place an independent, external review mechanism. He also pointed to the fact that some countries have organized parliamentary debates on SDGs, and some have started to include the SDGs in all core parliamentary functions in order to scrutinize implementation of the SDGs nationally. An SDG Knowledge Hub summary of this report is available here.
Felix Dodds, University of North Carolina, noted that 23 of the 169 SDG targets have 2020 or 2025 timeframes. On how to handle these target dates, he suggested four options, namely:
- No updated targets will be added to the SDGs to replace those that have expired in 2020 and 2025, and monitoring and reporting will conclude at the date of the target;
- No updated targets will be added but, if they have not been achieved, there will be continued monitoring of their indicators and reporting on progress until 2030;
- Any updated target would need to be agreed through the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in order to replace an expiring target; and
- Any updated target agreed by a relevant UN body could substitute the 2020 or 2025 “old” target of the 2030 Agenda without going through renegotiation in the UNGA. However, if there is no authoritative UN body for the target, the agreement would fall under the UNGA.
Claire Blanchard, WWF, remarked that progress is lagging on many of the 21 SDG targets with a 2020 deadline. She called for a clear process to extend efforts on these targets until 2030, and to maintain the integrity of the overall SDG framework. She suggested two possible processes at the global level to take a decision on these targets: 1) the UNGA could elect to centralize decisions on post-2020 SDG targets, and draw upon input from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); or 2) the UNGA could decide to include the HLPF and ECOSOC in the post-2020 SDGs targets discussion, while also drawing on input from the CBD. She added that this could be achieved through an HLPF Heads of State declaration in 2019, a ministerial declaration in 2020, and/or an ECOSOC resolution which could adopt the HLPF declaration. WWF recently published a discussion paper on this topic, which is summarized here.
The Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development is an informal government group that was created in 2011 to provide an informal space for governments to discuss issues related to good governance and the institutional framework related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Group is chaired by the governments of Germany, Morocco, Nigeria, the Republic of Korea and Romania. ARTICLE 19 serves as its secretariat. [Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development Website] [Workshop Programme and Presentations]