13 July 2022
HLPF Reviews SDGs 4, 5, 14, and 15, Begins Discussion of VNRs
Photo by IISD/ENB
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At the 2022 session of the HLPF, 44 countries are conducting VNRs at the 2022 HLPF, of which 11 countries are presenting for the first time, 28 for the second time, three for the third time, and two for the fourth time.

Argentina, Belarus, Eritrea, Eswatini, the Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Latvia, Mali, Philippines, Switzerland, Togo, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Uruguay have presented their VNRs.

Delegates also reviewed progress on SDG 4 (quality education) on 6 July, SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 14 (life below water) on 7 July, and SDG 15 (life on land) on 11 July.

Following its opening on 5 July, the 2022 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) continued with consideration of progress on four out of five Goals undergoing in-depth review this year. Countries also began presentations of their voluntary national reviews (VNRs). Thematic sessions discussed local action, equal access to vaccines, work towards the 2023 SDG Summit, building back better in small island developing States (SIDS), and civil society’s perspectives.

The Report on the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns (10YFP) was also introduced.

On 6 July, governments reviewed SDG 4 (quality education). Diego Pary Rodríguez, ECOSOC Vice President, Bolivia, who chaired the session, highlighted that it would feed into the Transforming Education Summit taking place in September 2022. Leonardo Garnier, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Transforming Education Summit, emphasized the need to “ignite a movement to transform education into a true human right for all.”

Delegates stressed the need to ensure access to quality education for all, invest in teachers, bridge the digital divide and harness the potential of e-learning, lower the cost of higher education, and better equip youth entering the job market. Others shared actions related to the promotion of nuclear science and technology, teacher training for early childhood development, inclusive education, digital and green education programmes, and education as a public good. They also shared progress towards SDG 4 in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some expressing concern that setbacks would be hard to overcome due to digital divides that mostly hit low-income students and learners with disabilities.

On 7 July, SGD 5 (gender equality) and SDG 14 (life below water) underwent in-depth review.

On SDG 5, Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Democratic Republic of the Congo, highlighted fragile progress towards gender equality and setbacks that women’s rights faced recently. Paul Pacheco, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), presented highlights of the report of the UN Secretary-General on progress towards SDG 5, including that 641 million women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a partner and women made up nearly 45% of global employment losses in 2020.

Frida Ravn Rosling, Danish Youth Delegate to the UN on Democracy and Partnerships, highlighted that women’s rights, including sexual and reproductive health rights, are being abolished in different parts of the world, and called for strong legislation to promote women’s rights and for protecting those working to secure them. The Holy See called on delegates to “cherish” women’s role in the family, and expressed regret at the “overemphasis” of sexual and reproductive health in the discourse on women’s empowerment.

Delegates emphasized the need for gender mainstreaming, gender-responsive budgeting, and ensuring women’s representation at all levels of governance, and many highlighted domestic initiatives to promote gender rights. Participants warned against “weaponization” of tradition, religion, and culture that undermines women’s rights, described the negative impacts of war and displacement on women and girls, and acknowledged threats to women’s rights resulting from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

In her keynote address on SDG 14, Sylvia Earle, Marine Biologist and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, emphasized that we must work to build back and maintain the ocean’s biogeochemical balance, underscoring that the ocean sustains all life on Earth.

Participants highlighted: Norway’s commitments to sustainable management of oceans by 2025; the importance of enhanced cooperation at all levels; investments in innovative technologies such as plant-based fish; the Blue Transformation programme of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO); the efforts of the High Ambition Coalition towards a treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ); over 400 commitments made at the Our Ocean Conference; and that USD 1 invested in the ocean can generate USD 5 in social, health, environmental benefits.

On 11 July, countries reviewed SDG 15 (life on land). Sharing findings from the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022, Yuxi Zhang, DESA Statistics Division, noted that forest cover continues to shrink globally, with high losses reported for Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, and approximately 40,000 documented species facing the risk of extinction. He said agricultural expansion is driving almost 90% of global deforestation, and emphasized the need to reduce net habitat loss and transition to sustainable agriculture.

Delegates considered the need to: take a systematic approach, aligned with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and other instruments; achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 on the designation of protected areas; implement a whole-of-society approach to nature-based solutions; criminalize ecocide; agree on a new, ambitious global biodiversity framework at the UN Biodiversity Conference in December, including finances to support it; and implement the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazu Agreement). They also emphasized the need to consider the interconnectedness of all SDGs, recognize Indigenous Peoples’ rights to land, and increase climate investments in local communities.

Progress on SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) had been reviewed on the opening day of the HLPF.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) highlights that 44 countries are conducting VNRs at the 2022 HLPF, of which 11 countries are presenting for the first time, 28 for the second time, three for the third time, and two for the fourth time. On 11 July, Togo and Uruguay presented the first two VNRs. On 12 July, 12 countries – Argentina, Belarus, Eritrea, Eswatini, the Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Latvia, Mali, the Philippines, Switzerland, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) – presented their VNRs.

Meeting under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the 2022 session of the HLPF runs through 15 July. It is being held under the theme, ‘Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ [Earth Negotiations Bulleting Coverage of HLPF 2022]

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