UN Secretary-General António Guterres delivers an address at the opening of the HLPF 2019 High-level segment.

2020 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF 2020)

7–16 July 2020

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development – HLPF

Summary

“The COVID-19 crisis is having devastating impacts because of our past and present failures, because we have yet to take the SDGs seriously,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the virtual meeting of the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).

The meeting was originally intended to initiate a new four-year cycle to review the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and assess progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda). Importantly, it was meant to launch a “decade of action and delivery” after the 2019 HLPF found progress on the SDGs was lagging. Instead, it ended up being a rather unusual session. In a year when the COVID-19 pandemic caused most multilateral meetings to be postponed, the HLPF session convened on the originally planned dates, but was held virtually.

Given the considerable impact of the pandemic on human health and the global economy, the meeting’s agenda was adjusted by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Bureau to focus on the potential impact of the pandemic on implementation of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

The meeting ended without adopting a ministerial declaration, contrary to expectations. Mona Juul, ECOSOC President, told the closing session that while an ambitious declaration was emerging, some issues still required discussion. Suggesting countries were close to an agreement, she encouraged all Member States to support its adoption by consensus. On Friday, 17 July, she circulated a revised draft ministerial declaration, noting if Member States raise no objection before 22 July, the declaration will be considered as adopted.

Voluntary national reviews (VNRs) were presented by 47 countries, with 26 presenting for the first time, 20 for the second time, and 1 for the third time. Countries were given the option of livestreaming their presentation, sending pre-recorded presentations, or mixing these two options.

We were not on track to deliver when COVID-19 hit, and the road ahead is even steeper,” UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed said in her closing statement. “We can turn this around if we stay true to the 2030 Agenda.”

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