26 June 2018
Governments Commence Negotiations on HLPF Ministerial Declaration
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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Preliminary comments on the zero draft of the HLPF outcome document were provided on 14 June, followed by a first reading on 21-22 June.

The joint ministerial declaration is being negotiated for adoption at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development and the High-level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council.

22 June 2018: Governments commenced negotiations on a joint ministerial declaration for adoption at the 2018 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the High-level Segment of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The HLPF will take place from 9-18 July 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Ahead of the July session, ECOSOC President Marie Chatardova appointed the permanent representatives of Australia and Bangladesh to serve as co-facilitators for negotiations on the ministerial declaration. They circulated the zero draft dated 12 June, and held a meeting for preliminary comments on 14 June. Delegates then conducted a first reading of the text from 21-22 June 2018.

Ecuador for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) said that is “unfortunate” that the document’s format does not respect the format of the 2017 declaration. He said the draft only highlights challenges, not solutions, and is not action oriented. Further, it puts too much focus on social dimensions and too little on the economic dimension. He highlighted SDG 6 (clean water and sanitation) and SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) as particularly important. He also noted that the draft text’s references to means of implementation (MOI) are too streamlined and need to be “unpacked” in line with the structure of the 2017 declaration and the 2030 Agenda. As main concepts that need to be reflected in the document, he pointed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of Member States, and refraining from promulgating unilateral economic or trade measures. He also expressed concern about the “missing” references to people living under foreign and colonial occupation and the right to development.

The EU called for stronger references to climate change. She also underscored the need to mention the resolution on repositioning the UN development system and to make stronger references to human rights. She proposed calling on the countries that have not presented or indicated a desire to present their voluntary national reviews (VNRs) to do so. She added that the language on stakeholder participation needs to be strengthened. Supported by the US, Norway, Russia and the Holy See, she suggested avoiding an entire repetition of the 2017 declaration and the 2030 Agenda. Noting that SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) is reviewed every year, she said there is no need to strengthen language on MOI. Supported by Japan, she called for adding a reference to youth and children as “important cross-cutting issues.”

Japan, supported by the US, congratulated the co-chairs for the format change in the zero draft of the 2018 declaration. Supported by Canada also for Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), Japan said this year’s declaration should be even more concise. The EU, Japan, CANZ and US stressed that delegates should neither repeat nor renegotiate the issues covered by the 2018 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development (FfD Forum).

CANZ welcomed four priorities reflected in the document: gender equality and women’s empowerment; a focus on the poorest and most vulnerable especially small island developing States (SIDS), the least developed countries (LDCs), and land-locked developing countries (LLDC); climate change and disaster risk reduction (DRR); and inclusivity. Supported by the US, he underscored that CANZ will not support including CBDR, foreign occupation or the right to development. Supported by Switzerland, US, Republic of Korea and Turkey, he called for stronger language on private sector involvement.

Switzerland emphasized the need for clear commitments on SDG 6 and for the declaration to reflect the need for a new financing paradigm for water and sanitation for health (WASH). She stressed the importance of sustainable food systems when discussing SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), and said the reference to biodiversity should include the Aichi targets and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020.

Mexico called for a reference to mainstreaming biodiversity across all sectors, as well as references to the rapid technological development and the need to address the technological/digital gap under the section on MOI. Nigeria called for stronger language on shared responsibility, and for highlighting regional initiatives. Turkey said the declaration must state that SDG target 17.8 was achieved through the inauguration of the LDC Technology Bank on 4 June 2018.

The US underlined the need to ensure that any references to the VNRs highlight their voluntary aspect. He opposed referring to technology in the ministerial declaration.

The World Federation of the Deaf, for the Major Group of Persons with Disabilities, expressed concern that the text contains only one reference to persons with disabilities, and underscored the need to add references to persons with disabilities when referring to WASH, housing, and energy. The Major Group for Children and Youth noted that the zero draft’s language on youth is “less progressive” than in the 2017 declaration, and called for a reference to the ECOSOC Youth Forum. The Grey Panthers, for the Stakeholder Group on Ageing, called for including references to older persons.

A second meeting on the Ministerial Declaration is scheduled for 28-29 June 2018, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, to consider a revised draft. [HLPF 2018 website] [Zero Draft Ministerial Declaration] [SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of HLPF Process] [SDG Knowledge Hub sources]

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