The themes of inclusion and solidarity were front and center at the HLPF on Thursday, as delegates continued to discuss the umbrella theme of “building back better” after COVID-19 to have the greatest impact on the SDGs.
The session on “Bolstering local action to control the pandemic and accelerate implementation” focused on inclusion at the local level. Participants highlighted the role of local, city, and regional governments, including in the production of Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). Delegates raised fears of exclusion from public consultation and participation in development projects due to pandemic-related restrictions, the digital divide, and the rise in organized crime. While many speakers acknowledged the potential role of science, technology, and innovation in making cities and urban areas more inclusive, they also emphasized that investments are needed to support inexpensive, bottom-up, scalable, low-tech innovations that address basic human needs and avoid further exclusion.
The session on “Are we leaving no one behind in eradicating poverty and working towards the 2030 Agenda?” raised further issues related to exclusion and discrimination in recovery efforts, of poor and vulnerable communities, women, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities. Speakers called for social safety nets, redistribution policies, addressing the digital divide, and quality data. One participant called for an “early warning system” for social and economic issues, such as data to identify emerging vulnerable groups; while another urged enhancing the capacity of vulnerable groups to engage in direct dialogue with governments.
In the afternoon, participants discussed “Mobilizing international solidarity, accelerating action, and embarking on new pathways to realize the 2030 Agenda and respond to COVID-19: African countries, Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs).” Speakers urged the use of parameters related to well-being, job creation, resilience, inclusiveness, and equity as measures of success, instead of GDP. They described solidarity measures within the African continent to share political and strategic guidance, secure borders, and mobilize resources to support preparedness and response to the pandemic. Participants identified a number of priority areas, including: food systems; transport connectivity; trade facilitation; access to information and communication technologies; digital connectivity; and capacity building to increase imports. In addition, they emphasized global cooperation and “standby” action plans and financing mechanisms to reduce the impacts of global crises and safeguard development gains.