28 June 2021
Governments Adopt HLPF Review Agreement
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

UN Member States have reached agreement on changes to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, concluding its review.

The provisions of the agreement will take effect beginning with the July 2022 session of the HLPF and its preparations.

In 2022, the HLPF will hold in-depth reviews of: SDGs 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

UN Member States have reached agreement on changes to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Meeting in plenary on 25 June 2021, the Assembly adopted draft resolution A/75/L.102 by consensus, concluding its review of the Forum. The provisions of the agreement will take effect beginning with the July 2022 session of the HLPF and its preparations.

The co-facilitators for intergovernmental negotiations for the review, the Permanent Representatives of Austria and Senegal, issued a zero draft of a text on changes to the HLPF in February 2021. Consultations continued among Member States until June.

The final agreement emphasizes that follow-up and review processes for the 2030 Agenda will be “voluntary and country-led,” and the outcome from national-level processes will be the foundation for regional and global reviews. It calls for review processes to identify not only achievements and success factors, but also challenges and gaps, and to help mobilize means of implementation and identify solutions.

The text says that 2030 Agenda review processes will: be “open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people” and will support reporting by all relevant stakeholders; and be people-centered, gender-sensitive, respect human rights and have a particular focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind.

Per the text, the HLPF will strengthen the science-policy interface and examine various assessments, including the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR), also focusing on the availability of data and national capacities for data collection.

The annual HLPF sessions convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will provide stronger analysis of interlinkages across the SDGs and their targets, including policy implications of synergies and trade-offs. It will balance this attention with in-depth reviews of individual SDGs.

In 2022, the HLPF theme will be ‘Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ The 2022 Forum will hold in-depth reviews of: SDGs 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

In 2023, the HLPF theme will be ‘Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.’ The 2023 Forum will hold in-depth reviews of: SDGs 6 (clean water and sanitation); 7 (affordable and clean energy); 9 (industry. innovation, and infrastructure); 11 (sustainable cities and communities); and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).

In 2022 and 2023, the HLPF will also:

  • account for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on all SDGs;
  • ensure continuous action on the SDG targets with a 2020 timeline, while keeping track of and taking fully into account the related ongoing intergovernmental processes to allow updated targets to reflect a suitable level of ambition for 2030; and
  • promote and review the implementation of 2019 SDG Summit outcome document

Regarding future HLPF sessions, UNGA 77 (2022-2023) will decide on the theme and SDGs to be reviewed in 2024.

On voluntary national reviews of SDG implementation (VNRs), the resolution encourages countries to conduct a review once during each four-year cycle of the HLPF, “including countries in special situations.” The resolution indicates that following a country’s first VNR, its subsequent review(s) could highlight “trends, areas of progress, remaining challenges and, as much as possible, the impact of measures taken since the last review.”

By the resolution, the UNGA invites the UN development system to support developing countries’ follow-up to VNRs, at their request.

On the role of the regional forums on sustainable development convened by the UN regional commissions, the resolution says the HLPF should give more attention to the regional forums’ outcomes. The Assembly encourages the regional forums to submit their reports as early as possible to ensure timely consideration by the HLPF.

On the role of local authorities, the text recognizes their efforts to conduct local reviews, and calls for more attention by the HLPF to bolstering local efforts for the SDGs. It also encourages the regional forums to discuss trends and findings from voluntary local reviews of SDG implementation (VLRs).

On other inputs to the HLPF sessions, the resolution suggests that the annual progress report of the UN Secretary-General on the SDGs be made available in April each year, in order to inform negotiations on the ministerial declaration to be adopted during the HLPF. It also requests the next GSDR to be available by March 2023, in order to inform negotiations on the political declaration to be adopted at the 2023 SDG Summit.

Also regarding the SDG Summit, which takes place every four years as an HLPF session under the auspices of the UNGA, the resolution states that it will begin on the first day of the UNGA general debate or the Monday before the debate begins. In the year preceding each Summit, the UN system should focus its global public communication efforts on the 2030 Agenda.

In the years between SDG Summits, an ‘SDG Moment’ will be convened during the high-level UNGA week in September. The resolution encourages the UN Secretary-General to “use the annual SDG Moment to highlight inspiring action on the Goals.”

On stakeholder involvement, the text says the HLPF “should ensure broad, effective and balanced participation of a diverse and inclusive range of major groups and other relevant stakeholders in all aspects of its work, including the voluntary national reviews, including through the use of information technology and innovative web-based interface as an additional means for participation.”

It suggests that countries consider including major groups and other relevant stakeholders in their delegations at the forum. The text calls on major groups and others to “continue to report on their contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, as provided for in paragraph 89 of the 2030 Agenda,” and notes that the HLPF Secretariat will continue to compile and make available those documents.

The next review of the HLPF and ECOSOC will take place during UNGA 78.

The UNGA also adopted a resolution on strengthening ECOSOC (A/75/L.101). This text had been negotiated in tandem with the HLPF review, and was adopted by a vote on 25 June. An amendment introduced by the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) also was adopted by a vote. The mandates of the text on ECOSOC will be implemented beginning with the Council’s next session (2021-2022 cycle). [Summary of UNGA plenary meeting] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of HLPF review

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