UN Note Outlines HLPF Lessons Learned Since 2016
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The background note on lessons learned from the first cycle of the HLPF is issued in preparation for a discussion at the July 2019 session of the Forum.

The report builds on discussions that took place during an Expert Group Meeting on the topic on 6-7 May 2019.

The note outlines suggestions for improvement on the voluntary national reviews, the reviews of specific SDGs, and the reviews of the yearly theme of the session, among other topics.

June 2019: The UN Secretariat has issued a background note on lessons learned from the first four-year cycle of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), during which the HLPF will have reviewed progress on all 17 SDGs (2016-2019). The note outlines suggestions for improvement on the voluntary national reviews (VNRs), the reviews of specific SDGs, and the reviews of the yearly theme of the session, among other topics.

In 2016, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) decided to review progress on the implementation of UNGA resolutions related to the HLPF (66/290 and 70/299) during its 74th session “to benefit from lessons learned” from the Forum’s first cycle. To inform preparations for this review, the July 2019 HLPF will include a session on lessons learned from the first cycle of HLPF, and on messages on ways to improve the HLPF, to be conveyed to the SDG Summit in September 2019. The background note builds on discussions on the same topic that took place during an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) from 6-7 May 2019.

The report notes that the HLPF has been “quite successful” in providing a platform for discussion at the global level and maintaining momentum for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. It asserts that due to the Forum, Member States conducting voluntary national reviews (VNRs) produce higher quality VNR reports, use better data than before, address the full set of SDGs and pay more attention to the integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda.

On improvements, the report states that the Forum has only partially fulfilled its mandate of providing political leadership, recommendations and guidance, as those elements have been missing from the HLPF Ministerial Declaration (the outcome of the Forum) so far. It further points to the need to make the HLPF more action-oriented and a platform for transformative action and for creating synergies. Among other lessons learned, the report notes that:

  • The HLPF should pay greater attention to the interlinkages between the 17 SDGs and their targets, and further guidance should be provided to address these interlinkages and interdependencies;
  • The timing and coordination of processes matters for providing robust analysis for the HLPF (this refers to work carried out by regional and functional commissions, other intergovernmental bodies, thematic expert group meetings, and other forums);
  • The eight days assigned to the HLPF may be insufficient for in-depth discussions on thematic reviews and VNRs;
  • More reflection is needed on whether the work of the HLPF on its selected yearly theme has been useful;
  • There is a need to encourage countries to report on all SDGs in their VNRs;
  • The nature of the VNRs is changing as Member States are expected to begin showcasing impact, progress and trends in the second or third rounds of presentations. Countries could therefore be encouraged to strengthen the VNR follow-up process, and consider innovative approaches for national follow-up, including peer reviews that could feed in the next round of national reviews;
  • The constructive engagement of stakeholders at the national level and at the HLPF is an important factor in effective SDG implementation and follow-up and review; and
  • The reflection on HLPF review preparations must start early, and the theme for the 2020 HLPF should be decided early on.

The HLPF will convene from 9-18 July 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. It will consider the theme ‘Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’ and it will review SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action), SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). [Publication: 2019 HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC: Lessons learned from the first cycle of the HLPF]


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