UN Issues Programme for HLPF 2020, Year One in Decade of Action
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN Secretariat released the draft programme for the July 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development.

A concept note highlights the session’s emphasis on kicking off accelerated international efforts for the coming ten years, and notes that the programme avoids prejudging the outcome of the UN General Assembly's ongoing review of the HLPF.

The programme provides the topics of six thematic sessions, each focusing on a few SDGs most closely related to the topic, well as key trade-offs and synergies among those SDGs and across all SDGs.

The UN Secretariat has released the draft programme for the July 2020 session of the UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF). A concept note highlights the session’s emphasis on kicking off accelerated international efforts for the coming ten years.

The HLPF will convene from 7-16 July 2020, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on the theme of ‘Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.’ The Forum takes place annually under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HLPF’s theme also serves as the theme for ECOSOC’s 2020 session.

The concept note for the programme notes that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is currently conducting a review of the HLPF, and thus the programme for the 2020 session does not prejudge the outcome of the review process.

The HLPF session this year must discuss ways to operationalize the decade of action, specifically the concrete approaches and policies that can accelerate progress towards the SDGs. To focus on these most promising actions, the Forum will draw from two sources. First, the Political Declaration adopted at the September 2019 SDG Summit, which identified ten cross-cutting areas for advancing the SDGs, namely: Leaving no one behind, Mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing, Enhancing national implementation, Strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions, Bolstering local action to accelerate implementation, Reducing disaster risk and building resilience, Solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership, Harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development, Investing in data and statistics for the Sustainable Development Goals and Strengthening the high-level political forum.

The second source of identified areas that offer the greatest promise is the 2019 edition of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR). The authors identified actions that can address the critical trade-offs and synergies between the SDGs, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

Based on these identified areas, the concept note says that the 2020 HLPF will include six thematic sessions to focus on a few SDGs most closely related to the topic, as well as key trade-offs and synergies among those SDGs and across all SDGs. These sessions comprise the “thematic review” for the HLPF this year, and will take place as follows:

  • Advancing human well-being, particularly ending poverty (Tuesday, 7 July). The most closely related SDGs include Goals 1, 4, 6, 16 and 17.
  • Ending hunger and achieving food security for all (Tuesday, 7 July). The most closely related SDGs include Goals 2, 3 and 17.
  • Protecting the planet and building resilience (Wednesday, 8 July). The most closely related SDGs are Goals 12, 13, 14, 15 and 17.
  • Ensuring access to sustainable energy (Wednesday, 8 July). The most closely related SDGs are Goals 7, 12 and 17.
  • Sharing economic benefits, particularly addressing inequality within and among countries, decoupling growth from environmental degradation, and achieving sustainable development for future generations (Thursday, 9 July). The most closely related SDGs are Goals 5, 7, 8, 10 and 17.
  • Bolstering local action to accelerate implementation, including empowering cities, local authorities and communities, and issues related to sustainable urban development, infrastructure and people-centered services (Thursday, 9 July). The most closely related SDGs are Goals 9, 11 and 17.

The programme also includes:

  • A session on ‘Our starting point for the decade’ on Tuesday, 7 July, to establish “where the world stands in year one of the decade of action for sustainable development.”
  • Topics for additional discussion during the first week include:
    • Small island developing States (SIDS) and the SAMOA Pathway (Friday, 10 July)
    • African countries, LDCs and LLDCs (Friday, 10 July)
    • Financing for sustainable development (Wednesday, 8 July)
    • Science, technology and innovation (STI) (Thursday, 9 July)
    • Whole of society implementation of the SDGs and decade of action (Thursday, 9 July)
    • Leaving No One Behind with specific emphasis on eradicating poverty (Wednesday, 8 July)
    • Targets whose end date is 2020, and the processes to decide whether and how to update them (Friday, 10 July)
    • Investing in data and statistics for the SDGs (Friday, 10 July)
  • In the second week, a session will focus on the regional dimension, showing commonalities and differences among regions. (Tuesday, 14 July)
  • VNRs: In addition to the thematic review, the HLPF will also include presentations by 51 national governments on their experiences in implementing the SDGs at the country level. These Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) will take place from 13-16 July. The concept notes that Major Groups and other stakeholders will “self-organize to intervene during the sessions,” and the countries that participate in the Group of Friends of VNRs will prepare the discussions that take place after each VNR presentation.

Immediately following the HLPF, the ECOSOC high-level segment will have its final day including discussions on: the UN’s 75th anniversary; and ‘Where are we heading? Visions and scenarios for the future of the SDGs’ (Friday, 17 July).

In February 2019, the ECOSOC President appointed the permanent representatives of Bulgaria and Lebanon to lead consultations on the Ministerial Declaration to be adopted at the July 2020 HLPF. The Declaration is expected to be adopted at the conclusion of the HLPF on Thursday, 16 July. [Draft programme of HLPF 2020, version 19 February]  [HLPF 2020 webpage]


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