11 January 2021
Governments to Resume HLPF Review after Pandemic Postponement
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The intergovernmental review of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development originally began in February 2020 but was postponed in April 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Informal consultations will resume in mid-January 2021, and negotiations are expected to be finalized by the end of March 2021.

The Permanent Representatives of Austria and Senegal serve as co-facilitators for the consultations.

The intergovernmental review of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) will enter the consultation and negotiation process in mid-January 2021, according to the co-facilitators.

Alexander Marschik, Permanent Representative of Austria, and Cheikh Niang, Permanent Representative of Senegal, are leading the review of the HLPF and the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) after being appointed by the President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in November 2020. In a letter to UN Member States on 15 December 2020, the co-facilitators say they will begin informal consultations with Member States in mid-January 2021 and aim to finalize negotiations by the end of March 2021. This timeline is designed to avoid competing with other processes taking place in the second quarter of 2021, the co-facilitators note.

The intergovernmental review was originally mandated for the 74th UNGA session (September 2019-September 2020), in order to reflect on the HLPF’s first four-year “cycle” and consider ways to strengthen ECOSOC – under whose auspices the HLPF convenes each year. Consultations began in February 2020 with governments exchanging views on the HLPF review’s scope, critical issues to be addressed, ways to improve HLPF mechanisms such as the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process and thematic follow-up and review, and how best to include stakeholders.

In April 2020, consultations were postponed until “after the most acute aspects of the COVID-19 crisis have been addressed and the United Nations has resumed its normal operations.” Governments agreed to resume the review during the UNGA’s 75th session (September 2020-September 2021).

The HLPF was established in 2013 through UNGA resolution 67/290. In 2016 the Assembly adopted resolution 70/299, by which it decided to review progress on implementation during the 74th session “to benefit from lessons learned in the first cycle” of the HLPF.

The first cycle refers to the four annual HLPF sessions held under ECOSOC’s auspices in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019, during which the Forum held reviews of progress on selected SDGs, eventually reviewing all 17 Goals. [Co-facilitators’ letter to Member States]

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