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Summary report, 11–20 July 2016

HLPF 2016

The 2016 meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) took place from 11-20 July 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting focused on the theme of “Ensuring that no one is left behind.” It was attended by nearly 1500 Member States, Major Groups and other stakeholders (MGoS), and intergovernmental and UN organizations. In addition to the official programme, 37 side events were organized.

During the first week, a brief plenary was followed by moderated dialogues on: Where do we stand at year one; Envisioning an inclusive world in 2030; Lifting people out of poverty and addressing basic needs; Fostering economic growth, prosperity, and sustainability; Food security and sustainable agriculture, climate action, sustainable oceans and terrestrial ecosystems – adopting a nexus approach; Creating peaceful and more inclusive societies and empowering women and girls; Science-policy interface: new ideas, insights and solutions; Creating ownership at the national level; Mainstreaming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national policies, plans and strategies and integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development; Vertical cooperation – local authorities and national governments working together for implementation of the 2030 Agenda; Challenges in mobilizing means of implementation (MOI) at the national level (financing, technology, capacity building); National mechanisms for monitoring progress and reporting on implementation for the achievement of the SDGs; Making the 2030 Agenda deliver for small island developing states (SIDS), building on the SAMOA Pathway; Countries in special situations; From inspiration to action: Multi-stakeholder engagement for implementation; Ensuring that no one is left behind – the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by MGoS; Multi-stakeholder approaches at the national level – the opportunity to enhance follow-up and review by engaging MGoS; and Regional experiences.

The HLPF Ministerial Segment, which convened from 18-20 July, was addressed by heads of government and by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Sessions took place on Main messages from first HLPF week: our starting point, and on topics related to the meeting’s theme of “ensuring that no one is left behind,” including: Reaching the most vulnerable; Challenges of countries in special situations; Unlocking MOI for SDGs and creating an enabling environment; and Prospects for the future (Projections, scenarios and new and emerging issues). In addition, five sessions focused on the first round of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, and a general debate took place every afternoon during the Ministerial Segment. 

A Ministerial Declaration, focusing on the meeting’s theme of “Ensuring that no one is left behind,” was adopted during the closing session, after the retention of a paragraph relating to the Paris Agreement on climate change was put to a vote. One hundred forty-one countries voted to keep the paragraph, one voted against, and three abstained. The declaration was adopted with the paragraph intact, along with the report of the meeting.


The HLPF was called for by the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 in its outcome document, “The Future We Want.” Paragraph 84 states: “We decide to establish a universal intergovernmental high-level political forum, building on the strengths, experiences, resources and inclusive participation modalities of the Commission on Sustainable Development, and subsequently replacing the Commission. The high-level political forum shall follow up on the implementation of sustainable development and should avoid overlap with existing structures, bodies and entities in a cost- effective manner.”

UNGA-67: The 67th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on the implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of Rio+20 (A/RES/67/203), which outlined the negotiation process for the creation of the HLPF. The text also called for the Open Working Group on SDGs to report to the UNGA regularly, taking into account the convening of the first HLPF. It further called for a special event in 2013 to follow up on efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

RESOLUTION 67/290: The President of the 67th UNGA called for informal consultations on the format and organizational modalities of the HLPF. These consultations began in January 2013 and concluded with the adoption of resolution 67/290 on 9 July 2013. Resolution 67/290 decided that the HLPF, consistent with its intergovernmental universal character, will:

  • provide political leadership, guidance, and recommendations for sustainable development;
  • follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments;
  • enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development; and
  • have a focused, dynamic, and action-oriented agenda, ensuring the appropriate consideration of new and emerging sustainable development challenges.

The resolution called for the meetings of the Forum to be convened:

  • every four years under the auspices of the UNGA at the level of heads of state and government, during two days at the beginning of the UNGA session; and
  • every year under the auspices of ECOSOC for eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment.

Both meetings will adopt negotiated declarations.

The Forum, under the auspices of ECOSOC, will conduct regular reviews, starting in 2016, on the follow up and implementation of sustainable development commitments and objectives, including those related to the MOI, within the context of the post-2015 development agenda.

FIRST SESSION OF THE HLPF: The inaugural session of the HLPF on 24 September 2013 took place under the auspices of the UNGA at UN Headquarters in New York, and focused on the theme of “Building the future we want from Rio+20 to the post-2015 development agenda.”

2014 SESSION OF THE HLPF: The second session of the HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, convened from 30 June to 9 July 2014 at UN Headquarters, and focused on “Achieving the MDGs and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda including the SDGs.” A Ministerial Declaration was adopted that, inter alia: called for urgent implementation of all commitments under the global partnership for development to overcome gaps identified in the MDGs Gap Task Force reports; and emphasized accelerating progress towards the target of 0.7% of gross national income as official development assistance (GNI/ODA) by 2015.

2015 SESSION OF THE HLPF: The third session of the HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, convened from 26 June to 8 July 2015 at UN Headquarters, and focused on “Strengthening integration, implementation and review – the HLPF after 2015.” A Ministerial Declaration was adopted at the end of the Forum.


Oh Joon, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the UN and ECOSOC President, opened the first week of the Forum by noting that the role of the HLPF in follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda is extremely important in charting the way forward in new and innovative ways.

Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, highlighted six elements for the HLPF to succeed: leadership; institutions; interlinkages; monitoring; an agenda for all, with contributions from all; and international development cooperation. He said the HLPF’s review of SDG implementation must be robust, voluntary, effective, participatory and integrated.


WHERE DO WE STAND AT YEAR ONE? This session, chaired by Héctor Alejandro Palma Cerna, Deputy Permanent Representative of Honduras to the UN and ECOSOC Vice President, took place on Monday morning, 11 July.

Presenting the UN Secretary-General’s report on “Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals” (E/2016/75), Wu noted that achieving the 2030 Agenda requires an enhanced global partnership that brings together all stakeholders and mobilizes all available resources.

Moderating the ensuing discussion, Paula Caballero Gomez, World Bank, encouraged participants to move from incrementalism towards structural shifts to achieve the promise of the SDGs.

Panelist Debapriya Bhattacharya, Centre for Policy Dialogue, highlighted the challenge of estimating the finance needed to achieve the SDGs, and said the report could be more comprehensive in the area of global partnerships.

Panelist Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), emphasized the need to lift up those that are the most vulnerable and marginalized first, underscored the importance of national baselines for measurement of progress, and called for investment in data sources.

On integration of SDGs into national plans, Bhattacharya stressed the importance of addressing interlinkages between systemic issues. Figueres urged sustained political attention on the SDGs.

Discussant José Maria Viera, World Blind Union, called on states to guarantee sustained stakeholder participation through consultations, and noted the critical role of access to information in making participation a reality.

Discussant Martin Tsounkeu, African Development Interchange Network, noted gaps in integrating the SDGs into national plans, relating to how participatory assessment processes are, and the inclusion of qualitative aspects into national statistics.

From the floor, participants highlighted the importance of: addressing the gender data gap; stakeholder participation in the development of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR); avoiding overlaps between the mandates of UN agencies in the implementation of the SDGs; and further investments in capacity building on data collection and analysis.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

ENVISIONING AN INCLUSIVE WORLD IN 2030: This session, on Monday morning, 11 July, was also chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Cerna.

Inviting speakers to reflect on the meaning of inclusion, moderator Lisa Foster, US Department of Justice, said the recent shootings in the US were a painful reminder of the inequality challenges facing her country.

Panelist Ion Jinga, Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN and Chair of the 54th session of the Commission for Social Development, stressed the importance of SDG 10 (reducing inequality).

Panelist Onalenna Selolwane, Mosadi Khumo – Socio-Economics Empowerment Forum for Women, stressed the importance of retaining a significant portion of wealth where it is created.

Urging Member States to respect human rights, discussant Alvaro Esteban Pop Ac, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, highlighted possible adverse effects of implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Discussant Ibrahim Ismail Abdallah, Arab Organization of Persons with Disabilities, provided recommendations to address the needs of persons with disabilities.

In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed, inter alia, accountability mechanisms and inclusive policies, investments in youth empowerment and capacity development, data disaggregation, need for fiscal policies to reflect a human rights perspective, and social protection for weak and marginalized people.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

LIFTING PEOPLE OUT OF POVERTY AND ADDRESSING BASIC NEEDS: This session, on Monday afternoon, 11 July, was chaired by Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN and ECOSOC Vice President, and moderated by Sarina Prabasi, WaterAid America.

Prabasi said Member States are currently subject to a major test to ensure basic services are provided to those left behind.

Panelist Alice Albright, Global Partnership for Education, outlined recommendations to improve access to quality education, such as: strengthening education systems; adapting to meet special circumstances and focusing on gender disparities.

Panelist Michael Park, Aspen Institute, described the work of the Aspen Management Partnership for Health in increasing national investments in health, and improving the capacity of health ministries to deploy community workers.

Discussant Cristina Diez Sagüillo, International Movement ATD Fourth World, cautioned against using a basic needs approach that defines poverty reduction only as material deprivation, while calling for effective, accountable and transparent institutions for poverty reduction.

Discussant Rajul Pandya-Lorch, International Food Policy Research Institute, identified three challenges for poverty reduction: rapid urbanization, climate change, and conflicts and displacement. She called for a focus on improved access to markets, social protection and improved resilience to shocks.

Participants then discussed, inter alia, structural and systemic barriers to lift people out of poverty; the importance of land rights; inclusive mainstream programmes, economies and political systems; the importance of structural change; investing in human resources and systems; and prioritizing the most vulnerable.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

FOSTERING ECONOMIC GROWTH, PROSPERITY, AND SUSTAINABILITY: This session, on Monday afternoon, 11 July, was also chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Jürgenson. It was moderated by Vinicius Pinheiro, International Labour Organization (ILO).

Pinheiro noted the session’s special relevance to SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth); 10 (reduced inequalities); and 12 (responsible consumption and production).

Panelist Tim Jackson, Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, presented data indicating that economic growth delivers the biggest prosperity gains among the poorest communities, with diminished returns beyond a certain income threshold. He said this presented a strong moral case for rich countries and communities to make room for poorer countries and communities.

Panelist Bart Verspagen, Maastricht University, highlighted the need to build absorptive capacity for technology in countries through investments in innovation, labor markets and social protection policies to avoid a “low growth trap.”

Dyborn Chibonga, National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi, highlighted enhancing entrepreneurial skills; improving market access; and defending farmers’ rights.

Discussant Wellington Chibebe, International Trade Union Confederation, underlined the importance of collective bargaining for inclusive growth and urged empowerment of the labor force through education.

Participants then discussed, inter alia, the importance of innovation for agriculture and industry; inaccurate impact assessment methodologies leading to an underestimation of business impacts; tackling illicit financial flows; structural reform; the role of the private sector in bringing economic, social and environmental benefits to society; environmental thresholds; trade agreements that are in conflict with the 2030 Agenda; and respecting the rights of traditional owners of natural resources.

In concluding remarks, Jackson said the UK’s vote to exit the European Union (EU) was a “howl of anguish from those that have been left behind.”

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at


Moderator Ronald Jumeau, Ambassador for Climate Change and SIDS Issues, Seychelles, said no single SDG, nor the SDGs as a whole, can be successfully implemented through a silo approach.

Panelist Deborah Fulton, Committee on World Food Security, highlighted her organization’s efforts to include the voices of those who are least heard, such as fisherfolk, the landless and the urban poor. Panelist Evelyn Nguleka, World Farmers’ Organization, emphasized the role of technological innovation and the need to ensure adequate nutrition and market access for farmers.

Panelist Omoyemen Lucia Odigie-Emmanuel, Centre for Human Rights and Climate Change Research, called for the establishment of a one-stop platform for all stakeholders to meet and work together.

Panelist Jake Rice, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, called for an “Earth-wide” response, integrating the management of land and oceans, and argued against “proliferating silos.”

During the ensuing discussion, participants urged: investment in a climate-smart food network; linkages between the HLPF and HABITAT III processes; including the special needs of disabled persons in national and UN agency strategies; capacity-building support at all levels; attention to the impacts of industrial agriculture on sustainability; the role of oceans in aiding food security; and the role of farmers in job creation. A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

CREATING PEACEFUL AND MORE INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES AND EMPOWERING WOMEN AND GIRLS: This session, on Tuesday, 12 July, was chaired by Jürg Lauber, Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the UN and Vice President of ECOSOC. Irene Khan, International Development Law Organization, moderated.

Panelist Lakshmi Puri, UN Women, listed “ten commandments” for progress on gender equality: inspiration, indivisibility, integration, institutions, implementation, investment, information, inclusion, innovation and impact.

Panelist Robert Berg, World Academy of Art and Science, highlighted the important role of civil society and expressed concern that it is currently under attack in many countries.

Panelist Beatrice Ayuru, Lira Integrated School, called for adapting curricula to respond to the challenges facing women and girls.

Discussant Gaia Gozzo, CARE International, urged, among other actions, measuring women’s representation at the subnational and local levels, and in informal political spaces.

Discussant Anca-Ruxandra Gliga, United Network of Young Peacebuilders, encouraged expanding local youth-led initiatives and the role of youth as responders and peacebuilders during crises.

Participants then discussed: the crosscutting nature of women’s issues in the SDGs; integrating gender into conflict response plans; inclusion of women in the labor market for empowerment; and building the entrepreneurial skills of women through targeted policies. Moderator Khan emphasized access to justice and inclusive institutions as critical factors that allow for women’s empowerment. A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

SCIENCE-POLICY INTERFACE: NEW IDEAS, INSIGHTS AND SOLUTIONS: This session, on Tuesday afternoon, 12 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Cerna.

Presenting the 2016 GSDR, Under-Secretary-General Wu noted that it is “an assessment of assessments” prepared through an inclusive process to strengthen the science-policy interface for sustainable development. He described the focus of the 2016 GSDR on, inter alia: ensuring no one is left behind; the nexus between infrastructure, inequality and resilience; inclusive institutions, including national sustainable development councils; and technologies to meet the SDGs.

Lucilla Spini, International Council for Science, moderated the session.

William Colglazier, American Association for the Advancement of Science, highlighted Finland’s VNR as the closest to the vision of what a VNR should be.

Guéladio Cissé, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, emphasized the need for science to consider cultural dimensions of interventions and remain open to emerging challenges.

Patrick Paul Walsh, University College Dublin, urged reorienting research towards not just the economic good but also towards inclusive and sustainable societies. 

Aurélien Decamps, Kedge Business School, discussed the role that higher education can play in promoting multi-stakeholder dialogue.

Donovan Guttieres, Global Youth Partnership for the SDGs, urged the inclusion of formal and informal scientific systems to ensure no one is left behind.

Peter Messerli, University of Bern, recommended focusing on synergies and trigger points for sustainable development.

During discussions, Member States highlighted national efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, including: “demonstration zones;” improvements in science and technology; and integrated approaches that balance the three dimensions of sustainable development. Participants also noted: the role of nuclear technology in supporting the SDGs; the role of business and industry; the relevance of the GSDR to heads of state and government and ministers; and the need for youth involvement in science, technology and innovation (STI).

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

CREATING OWNERSHIP AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL: This session took place on Wednesday morning, 13 July, and was chaired by Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe to the UN and ECOSOC Vice President. It was moderated by Jessica Espey, Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Panelist Lu Yonglong, Chinese Academy of Sciences, stressed the importance of formulating national strategies with strong national leadership, practical indicators to track progress, and verifiable and reliable data at all levels.

Panelist Louis Meuleman, University of Massachusetts, Boston, cautioned against using external blueprints for national implementation, noting that sometimes, silos must be connected rather than broken down.

Discussant Annika Lindblom, Ministry of Environment, Finland, emphasized that sustainable development is a long-term challenge requiring new models of governance and multi-actor partnerships.

Discussant Ivane Shamugia, Administration of the Government, Georgia, highlighted: the desire not to create additional bureaucracy; use of participatory frameworks; and the challenge of data availability.

Discussant Adolfo Ayuso, Office of the President, Mexico, identified: building knowledge and understanding of the SDGs; willingness of stakeholders to participate; and strong mechanisms to achieve these objectives as key requirements for national-level SDG ownership.

Discussant Gomer Padong, Philippine Social Enterprise Network, said the “leaving no one behind” approach of the SDGs is a direct response to the focus of the MDGs on “low-hanging fruit” while ignoring the hardest to reach.

From the floor, a number of Member States outlined efforts to increase national ownership of the SDGs. A number of stakeholders said civil society had not been consulted in the preparation of VNRs, with some calling for the creation of national engagement mechanisms. Participants also exchanged views on the need to move away from silos with some cautioning that doing so may decrease the effectiveness and accountability of organizations.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

MAINSTREAMING SDGS INTO NATIONAL POLICIES, PLANS AND STRATEGIES AND INTEGRATING THE THREE DIMENSIONS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: This session took place on Wednesday morning, 13 July, and was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Jürgenson. Nick Ishmael Perkins,, moderated.

Koichi Aiboshi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan, described the four pillars of his country’s efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda: an implementation framework, guiding principles, collaboration with stakeholders, and support for global implementation.

Joseph Enyimu, Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development, Uganda, stressed the importance of creating policy space to mainstream SDGs into national plans and engaging citizens in a national dialogue.

Wardarina, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, identified “warning signs” that may undermine the ambition of the SDGs, including lack of institutional arrangements and policies to support the 2030 Agenda and failure to involve civil society in planning, implementation and review.

Izzet Ari, Ministry of Development, Turkey, highlighted multi-sector and multi-stakeholder approaches and political ownership as factors essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda. 

Eili Lepik, Government Office, Estonia, outlined practical examples to mainstream the SDGs, including integrated impact assessments and information and communications technology solutions like e-government.

Discussant Olivier Brochenin, France, highlighted the importance of policy coherence and the value of partnerships in finding solutions. Discussant Stine Lise Hattestad Bratsberg, PURE Consulting, said the SDGs represent a new framework for the private sector.

In the ensuing discussion, Member States highlighted the importance of integrating the SDGs and targets into national policies and efforts to facilitate interagency processes to mainstream the 2030 Agenda. Some Member States shared their national experiences in implementing the 2030 Agenda thus far.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

VERTICAL COOPERATION – LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS WORKING TOGETHER FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 2030 AGENDA: This session on Wednesday afternoon, 13 July, was chaired by Shava. In his keynote address, Kadir Topbaş, Mayor of Istanbul, Turkey, emphasized the importance of the sub-national level for SDG implementation and called for sub-national inputs to be included in the VNRs.

Peter Wollaert, UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), moderated the panel discussion.

Hyuk-Sang Sohn, Kyung Hee University, described the Local Sustainability Alliance of Korea and noted that a new national focus on green growth posed challenges for implementing all three pillars of sustainable development.

Panelist Patrícia Iglecias, State Secretary for Environment, São Paulo, Brazil, highlighted the need for specific targets, and capacity building, for local and sub-national levels.

Discussant Rosemarie Edillon, National Economic and Development Authority, Philippines, called on national governments to complement local budgets so that those furthest behind are not held back by limited resources.

Discussant Paddy Torsney, Inter-Parliamentary Union, highlighted the need for local thought leaders to make components of national plans relevant to local contexts.

Discussant Stephan Contius, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, highlighted the importance of inter-ministerial committees to implement the SDGs.

During the discussion, participants identified the advantages of local level implementation of SDGs, including: ability to move quickly; accountability; cooperation between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local governments; and local-level commitment. Others identified challenges at the local level, such as: lack of capacity and technical knowledge; appropriate data at the right scale; and insufficient funding.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at


Macharia Kamau, Co-Chair of the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum, presented a statement on the outcome of the 2016 STI Forum, listing priority areas and objectives, including: upfront investment in technology; awareness of social context; and participatory STI actions.

Manuel Montes, South Centre, then moderated a panel discussion.

Panelist Paulo Gadelha, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, underlined the importance of using the Technology Facilitation Mechanism’s online platform to share experiences. Panelist Felipe Castro, Colombia, argued for the sharing of non-financial resources such as science, knowledge and technology.

Discussant Mawussi Djossou Semondji, Togo, called for linkages between science and MOI. Discussant Paul Gulleik Larsen, Norway, described ODA as an investment in national interest, and a catalyst for better and broader partnerships.

Discussant Chengyong Sun, China, highlighted national efforts such as: 2030 Agenda showcase zones; a green technology bank; and STI training around the world. Discussant David O’Connor, IUCN, stressed the need to ensure that technology is a leveler rather than divider.

During discussions, participants highlighted: STI in development cooperation; the need to “overhaul” the global intellectual property rights regime; the impact of international lending conditionalities; and the challenges of redirecting investment flows.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

NATIONAL MECHANISMS FOR MONITORING PROGRESS AND REPORTING ON IMPLEMENTATION FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF SDGS: This session took place on Thursday morning, 14 July, and was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Lauber and moderated by Johannes Paul Jütting, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Panelist Lisa Grace S. Bersales, Philippine Statistics Authority, said her country will use data from innovative sources, including data generated by the private sector, civil society and citizens, to ensure data disaggregation that leaves no one behind.

Panelist Pali Lehohla, Statistician-General, South Africa, highlighted: the trust-building role of statistics in international relations; the need to modernize; and the first World Forum on Sustainable Development Data, to be hosted by his country in January 2017.

Panelist Georges-Simon Ulrich, Swiss Federal Statistical Office, stressed the importance of early involvement of national statistical offices, and the need to reinforce statistical partnerships.

Discussant Milorad Šćepanović, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Montenegro, described his country’s monitoring and reporting efforts, including: a new national strategy on sustainable development, with guiding principles and goals; strengthening of human resources; the “nationalization” of targets and indicators for the SDGs; and adjustments to the existing institutional structure.

Discussant Peseta Noumea Simi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Samoa, highlighted the: need to contextualize and localize the SDG indicators; human and capacity constraints faced by SIDS; importance of ownership and political will; need to build awareness and engagement of stakeholders through early and open consultative processes; and importance of regional cooperation.

During discussions, participants, inter alia: outlined national and institutional efforts on monitoring and reporting, and the challenges of nationalizing the 230 SDG indicators; called for capacity building to enhance national data collection and analysis; emphasized the need for inclusion of stakeholders’ views and citizen-generated evidence into monitoring and reporting processes; and highlighted the need for equal treatment of qualitative and quantitative data.

In concluding remarks, panelists stressed the importance of: using varied data sources; monitoring data collection; and stakeholder participation to add value to monitoring and reporting.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

MAKING THE 2030 AGENDA DELIVER FOR SIDS, BUILDING ON THE SAMOA PATHWAY: This discussion took place on Thursday morning, 14 July, and was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Jürgenson. Elizabeth Thompson, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and former Minister for Energy and Environment, Barbados, moderated the session.

Anote Tong, former President of the Republic of Kiribati, said the other SDGs would be meaningless if climate change is not addressed, and underlined climate resilience as a primary goal for SIDS.

Panelist David Smith, University Consortium of Small Island States, highlighted SDGs 13 (climate change), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) as being of particular relevance to SIDS.

Discussant Justina Langidrik, Marshall Islands, called for the SDGs to be harmonized with the SAMOA Pathway, and tailored to national circumstances. Noting the heavy dependence of SIDS on bilateral assistance, she warned that tackling all SDG indicators and targets could overload governments in SIDS.

Discussant Kate Brown, Global Island Partnership, said both domestic and private sector resource mobilization are a challenge for SIDS, given their small size, and called for public-private partnerships at the local level for SDG implementation.

In discussions, participants noted: the role of the HLPF and the UN system in harmonizing the 2030 Agenda with the SAMOA Pathway; SIDS have shown leadership and ownership in overcoming challenges, and are committed to doing their part; efforts to support SIDS by developed countries; issues such as climate change and challenges in accessing finance, including as a result of financial “de-risking,” are outside the control of SIDS; and encouragements for SIDS to report on what is most relevant and feasible, based on domestic priorities and using existing or national templates.

In closing, panelists highlighted the importance of data in tracking improvements in ensuring finance is used in the most appropriate way, and underlined partnerships as essential for SIDS to achieve their objectives.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

COUNTRIES IN SPECIAL SITUATIONS: This session, on Thursday afternoon, 14 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Cerna and moderated by David Steven, New York University.

Panelist Youba Sokona, South Centre and Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said it is necessary to start by defining country-level development priorities, while stressing the need for the policy, research and practice communities to come together.

Panelist Jean-Marc Châtaigner, French Research Institute for Development, highlighted gaps in the number of researchers per million inhabitants, and differences in homicide rates between countries, and lamented inadequate focus of the global community on least developed countries (LDCs) in the past.

Panelist Marina Djernaes, EcoPeace Middle East, warned against the environment being held hostage in conflict situations, or waiting to act until peace agreements are reached.

Panelist Claudio Huepe Minoletti, Universidad Diego Portales, highlighted the challenges, complexities and internal variations of middle-income countries (MICs), where, he said, sustainable development should be pursued as a means to growth, instead of growth pursued as a means to sustainable development.

Panelist Stephen Chacha, Africa Philanthropic Foundation, called for more effective conflict prevention and mediation methods, and for an annual report on progress towards SDG implementation in countries in special situations.

From the floor, discussions centered around, inter alia: the need to ensure no one is left behind despite cultural and political beliefs; harmonization of the 2030 Agenda with other global agreements; the vulnerabilities and resource constraints of SIDS; the need to increase support for LDCs, but not encroach on their national policy space; importance of involving youth in conflict resolution processes; arguments for establishment of new classifications and indices to measure the development of MICs; the need for human rights to be at the center of the 2030 Agenda; and calls for the HLPF to focus on the crucial issue of mobilizing resources both at the national level, by helping countries maximize their potential, and at the international level.

In closing remarks, panelists noted that: the lessons learned from the MDGs, which none of the countries in special situations have achieved, should be the starting point; dialogue has to move to the regional, national and local levels, where linkages between different crosscutting priorities are much clearer; and further investment in research is called for.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

FROM INSPIRATION TO ACTION: MULTI-STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT FOR IMPLEMENTATION:Chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Lauber, this session took place on Friday morning, 15 July, and consisted of two discussions: “Ensuring that no one is left behind – the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by MGoS,” and “Multi-stakeholder approaches at the national level – the opportunity to enhance follow-up and review by engaging MGoS.” Barbara Adams, Senior Policy Advisor, Global Policy Forum, moderated both discussions. 

Ensuring that no one is left behind – the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by MGoS: Discussant Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN, outlined the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation’s preparations for its second High-Level Meeting (HLM 2) in November 2016, and its linkages with the work of the HLPF. He said the Partnership is calling for a new deal to improve the efficiency and efficacy of development cooperation.

Discussant Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor of Kitchener, Canada, said local and regional authorities have a powerful mandate in driving SDG implementation, and called for the HLPF 2016 Ministerial Declaration to emphasize their role.

Respondent Norma Munguía Aldaraca, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, highlighted the challenges of mainstreaming and integrating crosscutting themes in her country, to avoid fragmentation.

Discussant Joan Carling, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, proposed a list of actions to ensure the inclusion of indigenous peoples, including representation in national sustainable development bodies, and participatory data collection.

Discussant Yvonne Harz-Pitre, International Fertilizer Industry Association, representing the Business and Industry Major Group, highlighted the role of the private sector in building transformative partnerships by contributing resources and expertise. 

Respondent Sarah Mendelson, US Representative to ECOSOC, stressed the need to raise awareness in her country of the SDGs as a transformational opportunity to address inequalities.

Discussant Marco Marzano de Marinis, World Farmers’ Organisation, stressed the role of farmers in achieving a range of SDGs and called on governments to support the engagement of stakeholders in SDG implementation.

Noting that the world of volunteering has moved beyond the North-South axis, Discussant Alok Rath, Voluntary Service Overseas International, called for local capacity building to support volunteer engagement and harness the power of the world’s one billion volunteers.

Discussant Frances Zainoeddin, Gray Panthers, argued that ageism is as rampant as sexism and racism and said changing mindsets is about strengthening capabilities and addressing vulnerabilities.

Respondent Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN and incoming UNGA President, announced that his UNGA Presidency will include a team of eight experts working on SDG implementation, and he will hold himself accountable to demonstrate significant progress in each SDG by the end of his term.

From the floor, Benin expressed hope that HLM 2 would address the fact that only 25% of aid to developing countries is delivered to the people who need it. Sri Lanka highlighted efforts to engage stakeholders in his country. Speaking for the Netherlands, a youth representative highlighted his opportunity to be a member of the Dutch delegation as a concrete step to include stakeholders and enhance accountability.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

Multi-stakeholder approaches at the national level – the opportunity to enhance follow-up and review by engaging MGoS: Discussant Mabel Bianco, Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer, highlighted a review by the Women’s Major Group, which found that less than 10% of the VNRs involved civil society from their inception. Discussant Yetnebersh Nigussie, Light for the World, said the SDGs are a new opportunity for persons with disabilities to be included as contributors to sustainable development.

Respondent Harriet Ludwig, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, noted that her country’s efforts to involve citizens in the 2030 Agenda and VNRs have been “worth it” but not always easy.

Discussant Annisa Triyanti, Children and Youth Major Group, said young people are already taking leadership roles in their communities. Discussant Antonia Wulff, Education International, for Workers and Trade Unions, proposed “courageously and coherently” broadening the scope of social dialogue as a way to overcome tensions between the economic and social pillars of sustainable development. She also expressed concern that SDG 10 (inequality) does not have a “mother agency” or ministry to ensure its implementation.

Respondent Carlos Sérgio Sobral Duarte, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN, said multi-stakeholder dialogue in his country is part of an ongoing process that is constantly being improved.

Discussant Guéladio Cissé, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, called for a focus on education and capacity building, and on mobilizing adequate resources for STI related to SDG implementation.

Respondent Inge Herman Rydland, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway, said the 2030 Agenda is based on mutual needs rather than asymmetric donor-recipient relationships, and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda implementation hinges on active stakeholder participation.

From the floor, Kepa, an umbrella organization of NGOs, speaking on behalf of Finland, said being part of their country’s official delegation was an opportunity to share their views, and stressed the role of civil society as watchdogs. Together 2030, a civil society initiative, highlighted an interfaith platform initiative in Ghana to promote harmony in line with SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions).

REGIONAL EXPERIENCES: ECOSOC President Oh chaired and moderated this discussion, which took place on Friday afternoon.

Gamini Jayawickrama Perera, Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Sri Lanka, presented the outcomes of the Asia Pacific Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, which agreed on a regional roadmap for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Ghada Waly, Minister of Social Solidarity, Egypt, described the outcome of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, calling for integrated implementation of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas. Janis Karklins, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia to the UN in Geneva, said countries in the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) are updating and adopting policy frameworks and targets to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Juan José Gómez Camacho, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN, said they will provide a political and technical forum for countries in the region to exchange experiences and cooperate in the process of developing indicators and baselines for monitoring progress on the SDGs. Amjad Mohammad Saleh Al-Moumani, Deputy Permanent Representative of Jordan to the UN, presented the outcome of the 2016 Arab Forum for Sustainable Development organized by the Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, highlighting, inter alia, human and civil rights, social services, social protection, and gender equality as priorities.

Virachai Plasai, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, described the organization’s role in forging stronger multilateral and regional partnerships in the region, and encouraging countries to mainstream the SDGs into regional and national plans. Badre Eddine Allali, League of Arab States, noted the need to build data capacity in his region. Angela Missouri Sherman-Peter, Caribbean Community, stressed the high level of public debt in her region, and the need to build civil society and private sector capacity to aid domestic resource mobilization.

Christian Friis Bach, UNECE, said regional forums could be a “docking station” for national and regional reviews, statistical recommendations and capacity building. Shamshad Akhtar, UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), called for a systems approach to foster interactions and design effective solutions for sustainable development. Rima Khalaf, Economic and Social Commission for West Asia, said conflict, occupation and environmental challenges are threatening already meager development gains in the region.

Alicia Bárcena, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), called for a “new Keynesianism” to boost collective investment policies, tackle environmental challenges and protect jobs. Giovanie Biha, UN Economic Commission for Africa, outlined a mapping exercise that shows the complexity of, and opportunities for, aligning the SDGs and Agenda 2063 targets, which will form the basis of an integrated results and monitoring framework for both agendas.

From the floor, participants raised, inter alia: the value of regional consultative meetings for peer learning; the need to allow each region to define its own terms of reference for regional reviews; and SDG 16 as a priority for many countries. They also noted the need: for lessons to trickle down to the national and local levels; to adopt regional-level accountability mechanisms; for adequate civil society representation in regional processes; and for sign language interpretation and Braille availability at meetings of regional forums.

A more detailed account of this session is available at: 

WRAP-UP SESSION: ECOSOC President Oh presented key messages from the first week’s discussions, highlighting the need for: social inclusion; attention to the most vulnerable; policies and institutions to support inclusion; involvement of multiple stakeholders; and the important role of regional forums in linking the national and global processes. He noted they would be conveyed to heads of state and government and ministers during the Ministerial Segment.


Opening the Ministerial Segment on Monday, 18 July, ECOSOC President Oh Joon highlighted the challenges of identifying and reaching those left behind and ensuring progress. He urged Member States to take the “nuggets of innovation” shared by other countries and mold them to their local contexts.

UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft called on Member States to fully utilize the potential of the HLPF, and urged tackling root causes of current challenges such as inequality, exclusion and youth unemployment.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson called for sharing of experiences and transformative leadership, while assuring Member States of support from the UN system.

MAIN MESSAGES FROM THE FIRST HLPF WEEK: OUR STARTING POINT: This session, on Monday, 18 July, was chaired by ECOSOC President Oh. Among key outcomes from the previous week’s discussions, ECOSOC Vice President Lauber stressed the need for: strengthening national statistical institutes; reaching the most marginalized first; revitalizing the global partnership; STI cooperation; and the GSDR 2019 to address emerging issues and bottlenecks.

ECOSOC Vice President Cerna highlighted, inter alia, the need to: generate national- and grassroots-level ownership of the SDGs; involve stakeholders; address challenges of countries in special situations; work with regional forums; and ensure robust and participatory VNRs.

KEYNOTE SPEECHES: In a session chaired by ECOSOC President Oh, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, said the SDGs address the root causes of the challenges faced by the world and achieving them is the most important task of our generation.

Đặng Thị Ngọc Thịnh, Vice President of Viet Nam, highlighted the need for strong political will and a shift towards an interlinked, interdependent and holistic approach to development.

REACHING THE MOST VULNERABLE: This session, on the morning of Monday, 18 July, was chaired by ECOSOC President Oh, and moderated by Guy Ryder, ILO.

Panelist Hugo Roger Martínez Bonilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs, El Salvador, said his country is pioneering the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by addressing inequality and vulnerability through public policy, despite many challenges.

Urging a focus on youth and migrants among those left behind, panelist Shahidul Haque, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, highlighted the potential of financial inclusion strategies to empower these groups.

Panelist Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, urged social protection for those most exposed to risks and using public budgets to reduce disparities, for instance through fossil fuel subsidy reform.

Christian Friis Bach, UNECE, called for coupling social media and technology with the SDGs to improve monitoring.

Noting that leaving no one behind is a human rights promise, discussant Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for broad participation and access to decision-making, and disaggregation of data to address those left behind.

In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed inclusive globalization; social protection systems; and the importance of addressing gender-, disability- and data-related challenges.

A more detailed summary of the discussion can be found at

CHALLENGES OF COUNTRIES IN SPECIAL SITUATIONS: This session, on Monday, 18 July, was chaired by ECOSOC President Oh. In a keynote address, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, highlighted the will to implement as a key requirement for the SDGs, and said national considerations should not become a justification for not implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Moderator Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative for LDCs, Land-Locked Developing Countries and SIDS, noted the recognition of the multi-dimensional challenges of countries in special situations in the 2030 Agenda, while calling for coherence with the Istanbul and Vienna Programmes of Action and the SAMOA Pathway.

Álvaro García, Office of Planning and Budget of the Presidency, Uruguay, highlighted governance, indicators, allocation of funds to track results, and mechanisms for social dialogue as crucial to implementing the SDGs.

Helen Clark, Administrator, UN Development Programme, called for: efforts to address the social determinants of vulnerability; support for baseline data collection; and partnerships to enable full participation by those left behind.

Dame Meg Taylor, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, urged for the definition of “fragility” to include climate impacts, and be reflected in international assistance.

Ricardo Cardona, Minister of Social Development, Honduras, highlighted his country’s efforts to implement the SDGs, and noted the need for implementation of Financing for Development (FfD) commitments.

Karina Gould, Parliamentary Secretary for International Development, Canada, said Canada is refocusing its international assistance policy to reach the poorest and most vulnerable, and stressed the importance of gender equality for achieving peace, prosperity and sustainable solutions.

Shamshad Akhtar, ESCAP, outlined challenges facing many countries in Africa and the Asia-Pacific in particular, and efforts by the UN regional commissions to address these.

In discussions, participants highlighted, inter alia: the importance of addressing root causes in countries in special situations to deal with the refugee crisis; the need for an adequate focus on SIDS during discussions; and the need for investments in transport infrastructure.

A more detailed account of the discussion can be found at

UNLOCKING MOI FOR SDGS AND CREATING AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT: This session, on Monday afternoon, 18 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Cerna, who presented the outcome of the 2016 ECOSOC FfD Forum. He said the Forum recognizes the close link between the 2030 Agenda and Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), and welcomes the monitoring approach recommended by the FfD Inter-Agency Task Force.

Moderator Ardalan Shekarabi, Minister for Public Administration, Sweden, asked speakers to address how financing, STI, and capacity building can be mobilized.

Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, called for: smarter use of ODA through instruments tailored to local contexts; improved domestic resource mobilization by tackling tax avoidance and illicit financial flows; and promoting development effectiveness by promoting coordination.

Michelle Muschett, Vice-Minister of Social Development, Panama, said her country has adopted the 2030 Agenda through a Presidential decree, established a commission involving civil society for follow-up, and allocated responsibilities across government.

Highlighting challenges in the global macroeconomic environment, Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank, emphasized the importance of data, and of partnerships with the private sector and civil society to complement domestic resource mobilization and international support.

Axel Bertuch-Samuels, International Monetary Fund, outlined his organization’s efforts to support the 2030 Agenda, including enhancing access to concessional resources and technical assistance for revenue reforms.

Douglas Frantz, OECD, said a 4% increase in bilateral aid from members to the poorest countries in 2015 was “vital, but not enough,” and noted that small amounts of aid can unlock large amounts.

Vaughan Turekian, Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State, said scientists, innovators and engineers are integral to achieving the SDGs, and highlighted the STI Forum as an important step in involving these communities.

In the ensuing discussion, participants discussed: reforms to address the imbalances of the global trade system; transparency tools; enabling environments; and the importance of sharing experiences.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

SPECIAL ADDRESS BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: On Tuesday, 19 July, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon outlined the main messages from the first progress report on the SDGs; called for active participation in the HLPF; described the VNRs as a key feature of the HLPF; pledged full support from the UN in implementing the 2030 Agenda; and noted the need to improve the quality of ODA. He called on Member States to ratify the Paris Agreement, and “pledge never to rest” until a world of peace, dignity and opportunity is achieved for all.

PROSPECTS FOR THE FUTURE (PROJECTIONS, SCENARIOS AND NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES): This session on Wednesday afternoon, 20 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Lauber and moderated by Irina Bokova, Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Bokova described the 2030 Agenda as a departure from business as usual in thinking and policy; highlighted the importance of STI, including in bringing together the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement; and called for a stronger science-policy interface.

Gaviria highlighted the importance of integrated, long-term and cost-effective planning by describing “territorial” urban planning efforts in his country, based on mapping future needs such as health, education and energy.

Edgar Gutiérrez Espeleta, President of the second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the UN Environment Programme, and Minister for Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, underlined the importance of political will, prioritizing and partnerships in achieving the SDGs, and said the emerging right to a healthy environment should be recognized and promoted.

Noting that science should be the basis of policy development for SDG implementation, Fumiko Kasuga, Director, Future Earth Global Hub, underlined that developing countries do not have to follow the same development path as developed countries and called for each HLPF meeting to dedicate a session to emerging issues.

Stewart Lockie, James Cook University, called for participatory and multi-dimensional research and capacity building in the areas and regions in greatest need; and a focus on technology that is “fit for purpose.”

Nebojsa Nakicenovic, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, emphasized the value of evidence-based scenarios for the SDGs to support decision-making, saying transformational change was possible over a 15-year period. He highlighted the multiple benefits and trade-offs of achieving all the SDGs simultaneously.

In the subsequent discussions, Sri Lanka agreed that scenarios play a key role in identifying positive trends to support small ecological footprints, peace and prosperity. El Salvador called for a more participatory process for the preparations for UNEA in 2017. The Children and Youth Major Group recommended a thematic review of the environmental aspects of the 2030 Agenda. The Business and Industry Major Group underlined the critical role of their constituency in mobilizing people, resources and innovation. Together 2030 noted a mismatch between the level of ambition in the SDGs and current development pathways in many countries, calling for a stronger “policy-science-society” interface.

The stakeholder group for persons with disabilities underlined the importance of stakeholder participation in 2030 Agenda implementation. Indigenous Peoples said participation goes beyond consultations and requires institutional mechanisms.

The International Telecommunications Union suggested “connectivity” as an issue for consideration at future HLPF meetings.

In closing, Gutiérrez urged a focus on interlinkages between the different SDGs, and closer cooperation between UN agencies. Nakicenovic stressed the importance of STI, particularly the “renewable resource” of human know-how and capacity. Kasuga said technology should be combined with communication, and supported establishment of institutional mechanisms for participation. Lockie said that an effective science-policy interface requires recognizing the rights and knowledge of stakeholders.

VOLUNTARY NATIONAL REVIEWS:  Five sessions of VNRs took place during the last two days of the Ministerial Segment, with 22 countries presenting their VNRs.

Voluntary National Reviews 1: This session, on Tuesday morning, 19 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Jürgenson, and moderated by Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Presenting Mexico’s VNR, Francisco Guzmán Ortiz, Office of the President, said his country: established a specialized technical committee to monitor and implement the SDGs; created a national online platform to share best practices, policies and technological advances; and plans to create a high-level commission for SDG implementation, headed by the President and including academia and civil society.

Mohamed El Ouafa, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in Charge of General Affairs and Governance, Morocco, said his country has conducted several consultations on the 2030 Agenda and outlined the: national plan for industrial development; Green Morocco Plan; renewable energy programme; green tourism strategy for 2030; gender equality project; and housing and economic assistance programme.

Manuel Sager, Swiss Development Cooperation, Switzerland, highlighted five elements of the Swiss action plan: commitment at the highest political level; partnerships across levels of governments and with stakeholders; coherence and coordination; a sustainable development monitoring system; and mobilization of resource and international assistance. Presenting the private sector perspective, Sabine Döbeli, Swiss Sustainable Finance, said the action plan focuses more on risks than opportunities, and the monitoring system should reflect Switzerland’s global footprint.

Milorad Šćepanović, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Montenegro, emphasized sharing good practices and called on the UN system to deliver support in an integrated manner. Jelena Kneževič, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, Montenegro, highlighted: the policy planning and consultation process to implement the SDGs; a phase-wise approach to integrate SDG indicators in national monitoring systems; and milestones for review before 2030.

Noting domestic revenue shortfalls and post-Ebola recovery as key challenges, Patrick Saidu Conteh, Minister of State II, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Sierra Leone, said the country had: published a simplified version of the SDGs; aligned the SDGs with its Agenda for Prosperity and national budget; and drafted country-specific indicators.

Expert discussant Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, highlighted the importance of: integration of SDGs into existing planning processes; strong institutions; inclusivity; and intergenerational equity.

Discussant Sandra Andovska, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, asked how the countries presenting VNRs plan to integrate youth, the private sector and fragile groups into national implementation.

In response, Ortiz highlighted the importance of high-level involvement in the implementation of the SDGs. Ouafa noted the need for broad consultations with young people. Sager outlined both top-down and grassroots leadership, saying this includes young people and the private sector. Šćepanović highlighted Montenegro’s human rights-based approach. Conteh agreed youth must be involved in the process of development. A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

Voluntary National Reviews 2: This session, on Tuesday morning, 19 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Shava, and moderated by Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, African Development Bank.

Noting that the HLPF should be used to share good practices and constructive criticism, Erna Solberg, Prime Minister, Norway, highlighted: that each ministry is analyzing the SDGs and targets within its area of responsibility; annual progress reporting; efforts to ensure high quality education for all; and participation of indigenous peoples and civil society as key elements of Norway’s 2030 Agenda implementation. Speaking on behalf of Norwegian civil society, Martin Østerdal, Norwegian Children and Youth Council, said the SDGs are only achievable if governments stand with civil society, instead of oppressing it.

Herilanto Raveloharison, Minister of Economy and Planning, Madagascar, highlighted: an institutional framework to implement the SDGs; two national consultations; initiatives to achieve equity, fairness and non-exclusion; and efforts to develop a national resource mobilization strategy, and to mainstream natural capital accounting in national planning.

David Zalkaliani, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Georgia, highlighted a Joint Technical Working Group for the SDGs, with experts from line relevant ministries and the National Statistics Office; prioritization of 14 SDGs; and the integration of the SDGs into the Annual Governmental Work Plan.

Halit Çevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, described: efforts to embed the SDGs into the upcoming national 11th Development Plan; plans to strengthen the Sustainable Development Coordination Commission and update existing indicators; and Turkey’s emerging role as a development cooperation donor, providing 0.54% GNI/ODA in 2015.

Moderator Fraser-Moleketi highlighted innovations in reporting such as shared reporting by governments and stakeholders and urged the full integration and “domestication” of SDGs.

Discussant Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Environment and Energy, Maldives, emphasized the need to localize SDGs and said prioritization does not undermine the universality and indivisibility of the goals.

Solberg said tackling the “black economy” could provide resources for implementation. Raveloharison noted the need for inclusive growth to avoid triggering crises. Zalkaliani said coordinating structures play an important role in integrating SDGs across government. Çevik said the SDGs provide a vision to direct his country’s five-year plans.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

Voluntary National Reviews 3: This session, on Tuesday afternoon, 19 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Cerna. It was moderated by Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, UN Population Fund. 

Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, Finland, said that his country’s Sustainable Development Coordination Secretariat is managed by the Prime Minister’s office, and the sustainable development strategy and development policy were updated in 2016 in line with the 2030 Agenda. Rilli Lappalainen, Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU, Kehys, noted the VNR does not mention Finland’s level of ODA.

 Sili Epa Tuioti, Minister of Finance, Samoa, said his country had conducted a consultative assessment of its 2012-2016 development strategy against the SDGs, which forms the basis for its 2016-2020 development strategy, and had produced national indicators.

Matia Kasaija, Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Uganda, said Uganda’s second development plan will focus on the agriculture, tourism and mineral sectors and highlighted new legislation to attract private investment.

Thomas Silberhorn, Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, highlighted: taking all aspects of SDGs into account, and accounting for impact of actions beyond national borders. Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany, identified a number of strategies designed to reduce Germany’s ecological footprint, including national strategies for biodiversity and sustainable consumption. Ansgar Klinger, German Education Union, called for structured and binding options for participation of stakeholders in the 2030 Agenda.

Expert discussant Marianne Beisheim, German Institute for International and Security Affairs, urged Member States to consider: a format for the VNRs to encourage learning, and posed questions related to the choice of instruments for implementation; support for systemic challenges like climate change; and follow-up and support.

Discussant Ana María Baiardi, Minister for Women, Paraguay queried how the countries were ensuring broad participation, and the integration of gender perspectives into all 17 SDGs. Discussant Morten Jespersen, Under Secretary of State for Global Development and Cooperation, Denmark, asked how countries could: sustain ownership until 2030; avoid neglecting some goals while prioritizing others; and localize the goals.

A more detailed summary of the discussion is available at

 Voluntary National Reviews 4: The session on Wednesday morning, 20 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Shava, and moderated by Kathy Calvin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the UN Foundation.

Komi Sélom Klassou, Prime Minister of Togo, said efforts to integrate the SDGs into national policies included a workshop for the Francophone community with more than 100 stakeholders and said the national sustainable development plans would be validated by the end of the year.

Hanno Pevkur, Minister of Internal Affairs, Estonia, noted the country’s pioneering of “e-solutions” for good governance, transparency, resource efficiency and human development and highlighted climate change mitigation and the gender pay gap among remaining challenges.

Rosemarie G. Edillon, National Economic and Development Authority, Philippines, highlighted: lessons learned from MDGs applicable to the SDGs such as: a clear assignment of responsibilities and including a financing plan in the implementation plan; steps to build awareness among governmental and non-governmental stakeholders through workshops; identification of national priorities among the goals; and efforts to tackle data gaps through partnerships. 

Expert discussant Adil Najam, Boston University, raised questions about: the value of the SDGs in making national efforts additional to what is already being done; the MOI available; and the process of mutual learning.

Lead discussant Arvind Panagariya, NITI Aayog, India, asked about Estonia’s sustainable development plans for the next 15 years, and said economic growth was vital to address social objectives.

Responding to questions from the floor, Edillon said the recently elected President of the Philippines believes in differentiated responsibilities for climate change mitigation. Klassou emphasized the inclusion of youth, the elderly and disabled persons.

Voluntary National Reviews 5: This session on Wednesday morning, 20 July, was chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Lauber. Simón Gaviria, Minister for National Planning, Colombia, presented his country’s VNR, saying the SDGs had been integrated into the national development plan in June 2015, before the 2030 Agenda was adopted; a high-level commission has been set up to ensure effective implementation; and the SDG targets have been integrated into the 2017 national budget.

Norway asked about Colombia’s approach to align its post-conflict strategy with the 2030 Agenda. Spain requested information about the role of the private sector in Colombia’s national development plan. Together 2030 requested clarification on how Colombia plans to overcome political tensions. In response, Gaviria highlighted: the contribution of civil society; plans to engage with and regulate investors; and efforts to address inequality.

Noting that the country’s Vision 2030 is aligned with the SDGs, Sahar Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation, Egypt, highlighted the importance of job creation for youth, sustainable infrastructure and improving housing, outlining initiatives to achieve these priorities.

Lebanon asked about the contribution of infrastructure investments to job creation in Egypt. The World Bank highlighted readiness to support renewable energy infrastructure and a poverty study in Egypt that addresses inequality. Children and Youth, for MGoS, asked about policies to ensure women’s and girls’ access to basic services and plans to support citizen data collection, among other issues.

In response, Nasr: highlighted infrastructure as a generator of fiscal stimulus, connectivity and jobs; stressed the importance of national and sub-national data for policy makers; and announced the establishment of a government unit to ensure gender mainstreaming in project design, preparation, and implementation.

Ségolène Royal, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs, France, noted the close links between climate change and the SDGs, saying many of the SDGs had been inscribed in the preamble of the Paris Agreement. She identified her country’s laws on energy transition and on biodiversity as two “pillars” supporting its commitments, and emphasized the role of women.

China asked France to elaborate on the linkages between climate change and the 2030 Agenda. Noting that funding for women’s issues was a small fraction of France’s multilateral assistance, the Women’s Major Group called for balancing environmental, social and economic dimensions.

Royal said there are clear and visible links between the climate and sustainable development agendas.

Presenting China’s VNR, Li Baodong, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, China, said his country has, among other initiatives: incorporated the 2030 Agenda into the 13th five-year plan; established an inter-agency coordination mechanism for planning and implementation; and assigned tasks to specific departments to set up mechanisms and detailed plans.

France asked about how China would mainstream climate change into its South-South development policy. MGoS asked about data collection, and strengthening rural-urban linkages.

Li responded that: China intends to do more to strengthen LDC capacity to combat climate change and outlined efforts to provide telecommunications and broadband to its rural population.

Ricardo José Menéndez, Vice-President for Planning and Knowledge and Ministry of People’s Power for Planning, Venezuela, said a newly established council of ministers has ensured that the national plan is compatible with the SDGs.

China requested elaboration on the institutional mechanisms to integrate the 2030 Agenda in Venezuela. Seychelles asked for more information on how the SDGs were aligned with Venezuela’s national plan. Children and Youth, for all MGoS, raised questions about: the rights of people with disabilities; efforts to address hunger; and offsetting the environmental impact of disasters. In his response, Menéndez highlighted direct stakeholder participation and consultation in the planning phase, and the challenge of transitioning from a “rentier” State.

Highlighting steps and measures taken to implement the SDGs, Choi Jongmoon, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs, Republic of Korea, noted the need to mainstream the SDGs into his country’s national Presidential Commission for Sustainable Development, which produces plans every five years and evaluations every two. He discussed his country’s goal to significantly increase ODA.

During the discussion, Mexico asked about the Republic of Korea’s job creation strategy in light of the economic slowdown. The Korean Civil Society Network for SDGs lamented the lack of concrete plans for implementation of SDGs and the lack of inter-ministerial coordination, while urging a better quality of consultations. The World Bank inquired about the Republic of Korea’s plans regarding the Paris Agreement.

In response, the Republic of Korea highlighted: the promotion of jobs in the public sector; financial support to the private sector; plans for more concrete discussions with civil society; and a detailed roadmap to implement the Paris Agreement.

GENERAL DEBATE: During the general debate sessions on each day of the Ministerial Segment, representatives of Member States addressed HLPF 2016. In addition, on Tuesday, 19 July, Under-Secretary-General Wu presented the UN Secretary-General’s report on “Implementing the post-2015 development agenda: moving from commitments to results” (E/2016/64) and the UN Secretary-General’s note on infrastructure for sustainable development (E/2016/70); and José Antonio Ocampo, Chair of the Committee for Development Policy (CDP), presented the report of the CDP (E/2016/33).

Wu noted the Secretary-General’s report analyzes measures to ensure a strong foundation for 2030 Agenda implementation and focuses on the design of national sustainable development strategies and policies. On the note on infrastructure for sustainable development, Wu noted its recommendation to policy makers that infrastructure policy investments be integrated, risk-informed and inclusive, and outlining different roles for the UN system to help ensure resilient infrastructure.

Ocampo called for: supporting LDCs, including through continued preferential market access and targeted aid for trade; strengthening tax cooperation so foreign investors contribute to tax revenue; and drawing a distinction between ODA and total official support for sustainable development.

The national statements by Member States were delivered by a diverse range of representatives, including a Speaker of Parliament, 20 Ministers, a Commissioner, six Vice Ministers, three Deputy Ministers, one First Deputy Minister, one State Minister, 34 Permanent Representatives to the UN, two ambassadors, 26 other representatives of Member States, and a Permanent Observer representative. They also reflected a diverse range of portfolios, including, broadly, nine from foreign or international co-operation ministries; six from environment; six from finance or economy; five from development or sustainable development; four from planning: one from public administration; and one Minister for Women (although most had several and crosscutting portfolios).

The general debate also heard from 11 intergovernmental organizations and 21 MGoS.

The majority of the statements presented over the three-day Ministerial Segment outlined efforts to implement the SDGs with many also emphasizing the importance of: gender equality; synergies, coherence and linkages with the SAMOA Pathway, the Istanbul and Vienna Programmes of Action and the Paris Agreement; adequate MOI and mobilization of both international and domestic resources; partnerships; data collection and analysis; involving all stakeholders; and poverty eradication. A more detailed account of Monday and Tuesday’s statements can be found at and .

The statements delivered on Wednesday, 20 July, in a session chaired by ECOSOC Vice President Jürgenson, are summarized below.

The Assistant Secretary, Humanitarian Response Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia, said many of her country’s national and global initiatives address the heart of the SDGs.

The Permanent Representative of Libya to the UN highlighted the challenges of implementing the SDGs while transitioning to democracy. The Director-General for Global Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Croatia, highlighted his country’s role as a new and small ODA donor, focusing on small input and big impact.

 Noting the need for an inclusive agenda to tackle the “darker sides” of globalization, the Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the UN, said her country has created an independent committee to implement the SDGs.

The Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany, highlighted his country’s efforts to consider global impacts in sustainable development implementation and responses to fragile states.

The Permanent Representative of South Africa to the UN noted the need to build on the MDGs and to remove barriers to peace in the African continent.

The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN said his country is localizing the SDGs with the establishment of 17 expert sub-groups, and noted the launch of nation-wide consultations.

The Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN said an enhanced inter-ministerial working group on the 2030 Agenda will foster synergies and mainstreaming across the government and highlighted a national system of information for data collection.

The Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the UN called on developed countries to deliver on commitments to support SIDS in setting up national statistical offices to track progress.

The Permanent Representative of Syria to the UN said the follow-up and review mandate of the HLPF should ensure that developed countries are keeping their promises to developing countries. The Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN outlined a national mapping exercise and an inter-ministerial committee as measures taken to implement the SDGs.

The Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the UN said the country’s National Council for Rural and Urban Development is the lead agency for implementing the SDGs. The Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN said Ecuador is building a democratic, fair and sustainable economic system implemented in line with the 2030 Agenda.

The Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN emphasized the importance of economic development for his country. The Permanent Representative of Ireland to the UN said the HLPF was not envisioned as a forum for criticism and judgment, but as a forum for countries and stakeholders to share experiences and commit to assisting each other.

The Permanent Representative of Nepal to the UN said his country has entrenched a rights-based approach into its new national Constitution. The Permanent Representative of Slovakia to the UN highlighted the close linkages between development and peace, and noted the country’s national joint management framework to implement the SDGs with civil society organizations.

The Permanent Representative of Papua New Guinea to the UN described national institutional arrangements to implement SDGs, including: linkages with the annual budget; a monitoring and evaluation framework; and a strategic roadmap. The Permanent Representative of Singapore to the UN said the views of SIDS should be reflected in the Forum’s “time and attention.”

The Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN said robust data is a prerequisite for determining if no one has truly been left behind. The Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of Mali to the UN, said Mali has adopted a national action plan for the 2030 Agenda.

The Permanent Representative of Sudan to the UN said the country is preparing policies and plans, with civil society and the private sector, to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The Permanent Representative of Lebanon to the UN said his country is in the final stages of a national sustainable development plan, which is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and supplemented with country-specific targets.

The Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the UN cautioned against privatization of basic services, and called for solidarity mechanisms to support developing countries. The Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN emphasized: engaging with stakeholders at all levels to build ownership; using the SDGs as an umbrella to guide planning; and the need to strengthen the role of the HLPF in improving coherence of the follow-up processes.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the UN discussed his country’s Vision 2030, which provides a long-term development strategy that is inclusive of the SDGs. The Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the UN called for: a stronger focus on capacity building to mobilize private resources; smarter use and prioritization of ODA; and policies to promote gender equality.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN noted: the country’s Vision 2025, which mainstreams the 2030 Agenda; and the need for fulfillment of AAAA commitments.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the UN highlighted sustainable peace as the country’s top priority. The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN called for political leadership, finance and technology transfer, as well as “heartfelt compassion,” to achieve solidarity with all human beings.

The First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UN emphasized the eradication of poverty. The Deputy Permanent Representative of Albania to the UN highlighted the country’s National Strategy for Development and Integration 2015-2020 in support of the 2030 Agenda.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Cuba to the UN urged for putting the world’s US$1776 billion in military expenditure towards development promotion instead.

The Inter-Parliamentary Union said it is mainstreaming the SDGs into all its work and developing tools to help parliaments institutionalize the SDGs. The International Organization of La Francophonie highlighted efforts to build the capacity of its member states and stakeholders to implement the SDGs. The League of Arab States said the group is helping Arab nations analyze pathways and identify obstacles to implementing the SDGs.

The Deputy Permanent Representative of Jordan to the UN described the challenges faced by his country due to a 20% increase in the population due to refugees over a five-year period.

The ILO said its most recent resolution on decent work gives it a strong mandate to contribute to the 2030 Agenda. UN Women said realizing the transformative potential of the SDGs requires building on the inter-linkages across all SDGs to ensure that women and girls are not left behind.

The OECD called for political coherence and said it would analyze gaps that need to be bridged for its members to fulfill the SDGs. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction underlined the need to address risks to meet the SDGs and called for periodic assessment of risk mitigation instruments.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS identified demographics that need to be targeted to address the HIV epidemic.

The Indigenous Peoples Major Group noted emerging good practices: consultations with indigenous peoples and data disaggregation by indigenous markers and ethnicities for policy review.

The Business and Industry Major Group highlighted its constituency’s role as a major source of the US$1 trillion needed for sustainable development.

The stakeholder group for persons with disabilities (through sign language) expressed the group’s willingness to make an important contribution to implementing the SDGs. Workers and Trade Unions emphasized the significant economic costs of inequality, and the importance of social dialogue.

The stakeholder group for older persons called for an end to discrimination and exclusion on the basis of age. In a number of statements, NGOs called for, inter alia, transparent, efficient and accountable processes across government; involvement of local actors; putting the last first; social protection measures; improved energy access; and reducing food waste.


On the evening of Wednesday, 20 July, President Oh introduced the draft Ministerial Declaration on the theme of ensuring no one is left behind (E/2016/L.24-E/HLPF/2016/L.2). The secretariat read out an oral amendment to a sentence in the annex on the GSDR, where “should” was replaced with the word “could” in the sentence “scientists who work on the Report should be invited to provide scientific input into the discussion, including on the theme of the forum.”

President Oh said that general agreement had been reached on the draft Ministerial Declaration, and its adoption would signal firm political commitment to implement the SDGs. He noted that Nicaragua wished to call for a vote on a specific paragraph in the Ministerial Declaration, and recommended the country opt to dissociate from the Declaration instead.

Oh further noted that Morocco’s request for inclusion of language from paragraph 38 of the 2030 Agenda, which reaffirms the need to respect territorial integrity and political independence of states, in accordance with the UN Charter, had been opposed by some delegations during consultations. He said it had therefore not been included in the final draft Ministerial Declaration.

Nicaragua said every effort should be made to achieve consensus, and that he had offered a compromise proposal. Noting that Nicaragua does not support the Paris Agreement, as it does not prevent a 1.5°C temperature rise, negatively impacting on poverty, human development and the 2030 Agenda, he requested a vote on whether to retain paragraph 19 of the draft Declaration, which addresses climate change and the Paris Agreement. He also stated that there would be no need for a vote if Nicaragua’s earlier proposal was accepted. 

Algeria requested clarification on which delegates had opposed inclusion of the principles of territorial integrity and independence. President Oh said he would enquire with the Moroccan delegation. Requesting further clarification, Algeria later raised a point of order, saying he had not received a satisfactory answer to his question.

Egypt said his country would not vote against paragraph 19 of the draft Ministerial Declaration, but was concerned about “unbalanced” language as the paragraph: does not reflect the urgency for addressing adverse impacts of climate change as a global challenge; puts action by all on an equal footing; and does not link the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC. Ecuador supported the draft Declaration, but expressed support for Nicaragua, saying it is a sovereign right of countries to disagree.

The EU said the Paris Agreement is of crucial importance to the fight against climate change and said the vote requested is not reflective of the goodwill and enthusiasm surrounding the 2030 Agenda.

Voting then took place. With 141 Member States voting in favor of retaining paragraph 19 of the draft Ministerial Declaration, one against and three abstentions, ECOSOC President Oh said the paragraph would be retained, and invited Member States to explain their votes.

Cuba, with Algeria, urged greater efforts to accommodate views of all Member States, noting that “millions” of people in Nicaragua will now not be a part of this Declaration. Bolivia noted its positive vote reflected the country’s being a signatory to the Paris Agreement, but said every state has the right to make its own decisions.

Venezuela noted that they had voted to retain the paragraph, while highlighting the need for a more inclusive process. The Russian Federation expressed hope the vote would not have long-term political implications and drew attention to the lack of clarity on the rules of procedure of the HLPF. Iran also supported Nicaragua’s right to request a vote.  

The Forum then adopted the Ministerial Declaration, including the GSDR annex, as orally amended. 

President Oh noted efforts by himself, the ECOSOC Bureau and co-facilitators of the informal consultations on the Declaration to avoid a vote. However, he explained that as some Member States had requested an amendment, and reopening the text would set a bad precedent, it was decided, in conferral with legal services, that the request for a vote could not be denied.

The US expressed frustration regarding the “undemocratic” approach taken by a few countries in the negotiating process; noted that the Declaration does not affect rights in international law; expressed concerns regarding a reference to the right to development as it does not have an internationally agreed definition; and said references to any actions regarding technology transfer must be understood as voluntary.

The meeting then adopted the draft report of the meeting (E/HLPF/2016/L.1), entrusting the President to finalize the report.

Under-Secretary-General Wu thanked, among others, the 22 Member States that had presented VNRs, calling on participants to aim high to reach the “lofty vision” of a sustainable and equitable future ensuring no one is left behind.

In his closing address, President Oh highlighted a few key messages from the meeting, including the importance of: implementing the SDGs in their entirety; reaching out to the most vulnerable; better data collection; mobilizing resources at the national and international level; and coordination, coherence and integration.

Algeria called for its point of order to be to be included in the report of the meeting.

President Oh adjourned the meeting at 8:17 pm.

MINISTERIAL DECLARATION: Noting that it is of “critical” importance to protect and empower people who are vulnerable, the Ministerial Declaration, on the theme “Ensuring that no one is left behind,” inter alia:

  • recognizes: the importance of peace and security for sustainable development; that factors giving rise to violence, insecurity and injustice such inequality, corruption, poor governance, and illicit financial flows are addressed in the 2030 Agenda; and the importance of rebuilding efforts to resolve or prevent conflict, and to support peace-building;
  • recognizes: the importance of regional and sub-regional forums on sustainable development; the need for accessible, timely, reliable and high-quality disaggregated data; the importance of participatory and inclusive implementation, follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda at all levels; the importance of universal respect for human rights and human dignity; and the crucial role of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in achieving the SDGs;
  • welcomes: the Paris Agreement and recognizes the specific challenges related to climate change faced by each country, in particular, the most vulnerable countries; the global challenge of reducing vulnerability to climate change; synergies between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement; and mobilization of resources to support implementation; and
  • welcomes: the inaugural FfD Forum and its inter-governmentally agreed conclusions; work of the Inter-Agency Task Force and the progress made under the Technology Facilitation Mechanism; and the decision of the Statistical Commission on the global indicator framework for the SDGs and targets.

The GSDR Annex describes the report as an important part of the follow-up and review process for the 2030 Agenda and its role in providing an evidence-based instrument to support policy makers, and decides inter alia, that:

  • the scope of the GSDR will be universal, consider all three dimensions of sustainable development, and provide guidance on the state of sustainable development from a scientific perspective;
  • the GSDR will be produced every four years to inform the HLPF convened under the auspices of the UNGA;
  • the methodology will be guided by principles of, among others, objectivity, independence, inclusiveness and scientific excellence and integrity with the GSDR representing a dialogue among scientists on sustainable development, with balanced geographical participation and assessment of existing assessments;
  • an independent group of 15 scientists with diverse backgrounds, appointed by the UN Secretary-General in consultation with Member States will draft the GSDR. The group will begin work by the end of 2016 and will be supported by a task team of representatives of the UN Secretariat, various agencies and the World Bank; and
  • the complementary and distinct nature of the SDGs Progress Report and the GSDR, with the Progress Report prepared on the basis of a global indicator framework and the GSDR focused on the science-policy interface.


Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

- Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

The HLPF’s 2016 meeting marked the Forum’s first session since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development just ten months earlier. Characterized not by the fanfare and media attention of the Summit that adopted the 2030 Agenda in September 2015, but, rather, a series of moderated panel discussions, and three days of experience-sharing at the ministerial-level, the event in many ways reflected the less “sexy” but critical side of sustainable development governance: actual implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In many ways, the format of HLPF 2016 and the audience the Forum attracted are important indicators of what lies ahead for this process. Like a starship without its compass, the previous two sessions of the HLPF seemed to lack direction. This year, however, the world’s 17 SDGs and 169 targets provided this Forum with the coordinates to “transform our world.”

This brief analysis will consider some of the issues that emerged at HLPF 2016 and examine to what extent the Forum, at its first post-2030-Agenda session, set the course for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda’s sustainable development vision.


There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. - Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

The 2030 Agenda was adopted against the backdrop of immense global challenges―including high levels of poverty and hunger, rising inequality, the refugee crisis, a rapidly warming world, and growing insecurity. It is perhaps no exaggeration to consider this generation the last to have a “chance of saving the planet,” as the 2030 Agenda states, requiring us to address, fundamentally and structurally, many of these pressing challenges. Follow-up and review, then, is a critical priority. At HLPF 2016, the use of voluntary national reviews was the response to the HLPF’s follow-up and review mandate. The meeting’s key outcome document, the Ministerial Declaration, meanwhile, is expected to maintain the momentum of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

Voluntary National Reviews: This year’s ministerial-level presentations saw four LDCs, one SIDS, four lower-middle income, five MICs and eight high-income countries share their experiences with the 2030 Agenda.

Presentations revealed that many countries have begun to put institutional mechanisms in place; have already, or are considering, integrating the SDGs into their national development plans and international cooperation strategies; and have embarked on an exercise to make their national data collection and analyses processes relevant for the SDGs.

But the process was also met with some skepticism, as several countries readily admitted that 2030 Agenda implementation, for them, entailed pursuing existing national priorities. One observer said this was an indication that the goals have traction at the national level, while an expert discussant wondered if the SDGs would really be transformational without “additional” action that reflects a significant shift from business as usual.

The VNRs were followed by brief question-and-answer sessions, providing an opportunity for governments and stakeholders to raise questions and concerns. In one instance, stakeholders from one country told their government that their VNR was neither concrete, nor participatory. While some stakeholder remarks certainly appeared to hit home, real interaction remained limited as a result of time constraints. Whether the comments will be taken into account by the volunteering country is not certain―there is currently no follow-up process, and it is not clear when these countries will present another VNR before 2030. It remains to be seen whether civil society’s call for at least three VNRs for each country over the next 15 years will be answered.

On the other hand, many commented that the VNRs showed a positive aspect of the “universality” of the 2030 Agenda: developed countries shared their challenges in a global forum, on an equal footing with developing countries, prompting a developing country delegate to remark that it is heartening to see industrialized countries admitting that they too have problems.

Ministerial Declaration: The challenges of the HLPF’s comprehensive scope became apparent in the process of formulating the Ministerial Declaration. The close interlinkages between climate change and sustainable development had been highlighted numerous times during the session as a matter of fact and urgency. But with the draft Ministerial Declaration welcoming the Paris Agreement, Nicaragua’s concerns about the Paris Agreement not being able to limit warming to 1.5°C were brought to the fore.

Nicaragua felt its concern about the Paris Agreement was not being reflected and called for the first-ever vote at the HLPF, on a paragraph of the Ministerial Declaration. A number of Member States said more efforts should have been made to bring Nicaragua on board, worrying that a vote sent the “wrong political signal” regarding the international community’s commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda. For example, Nicaragua was not opposed to “noting” the Paris Agreement, but this language was not agreeable to others who wanted to “welcome” it.

While Member States overwhelmingly voted to retain the paragraph on the Paris Agreement with 141 supporting (with Nicaragua opposed and Russia, Egypt and Myanmar abstaining), veteran observers highlighted concerns about the precedent that had been set.             

The Russian Federation pointed out that a lack of clarity on the HLPF’s rules of procedure had further complicated matters, with the challenge of reconciling the universal character of the HLPF with the functioning of ECOSOC, a limited member membership body. Similarly, some Member States expressed concerns about the lack of a transparent consultation process on the draft declaration—they felt their views had not been heard, and parts of the Declaration had been “imposed” on them. The weaknesses in the institutional hardwiring of the HLPF were revealed, and a veteran delegate hoped that this would prod Member States to think more concretely about how to improve the functioning of the HLPF.


“[E]very hunter and forager, every hero and coward, [..] every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals […] every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species live[s] thereon a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” - Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

On paper, the HLPF provides a very strong basis for stakeholder participation, with the 2030 Agenda aspiring to be not just an agenda for the world, but of the world. At HLPF 2016, this was reflected in an unprecedented number of speaking opportunities for civil society (a total of 116 times), including stakeholders whose voices have not always been represented in sustainable development processes, such as people with disabilities, including those who contributed through sign language.

This inclusive approach was apt given the Forum’s 2016 theme of leaving no one behind. But many also struck a critical note; questioning to what extent civil society participation reflects real representation. One youth representative spurred delegates to “look around the room” as “the most marginalized and vulnerable are not here today.”

Many also pointed out that participation needs to trickle down to the national level, where there is much to be desired. A study by the Women’s Major Group showed that less than 10% of this year’s VNRs had involved civil society. Many NGOs also expressed concern about the shrinking space for civil society at the national level, even as many delegations paid tribute to the principle of public participation in SDG planning, implementation and follow-up.      

In a broader sense, the theme of leaving no one behind seemed to resonate with many, as an array of delegates highlighted the need to ensure programmes and activities, and ODA, reached those most in need the fastest.


There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known. - Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan

As the first Forum since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, HLPF 2016 sets an example for future years. The VNR process has the potential to be the centerpiece of the HLPF going forward but as an observer noted, much depends on the extent to which governments are willing to do their homework to “localize” the 2030 Agenda.

Negotiations under the UNGA are still ongoing regarding follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda at the global level. The June 2016 draft resolution on this topic foresees the following HLPF themes for the next three years: eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world, in 2017; transformation toward sustainable and resilient societies, in 2018; and empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality, in 2019. It also allocates different SDGs to be “reviewed in depth” at the next three HLPF sessions, with MOI, including Goal 17, to be reviewed annually.

Reactions to this approach have been somewhat mixed as an observer remarked that this year’s theme of “leaving no one behind” had demonstrated that different aspects of the SDGs can be highlighted while keeping the indivisibility of the goals intact. Others, however, requested clarification regarding the criteria and methodology used to select these goals and priorities. A number of NGOs raised concerns about the environmental dimension not being sufficiently addressed in the proposed themes. Countries expressed concerns as well―for example, Mexico said the thematic clustering of SDGs should not be interpreted as the prioritization of one goal over another, or a disregard for the linkages between them.

At the national, regional and international levels, then, there remains much to be worked out as all actors find their feet in the new sustainable development landscape. But whereas the year 2015 evidenced that the UN, governments, and all other stakeholders are able to come together to adopt an ambitious agenda, the true test of how our pale blue dot will fare lies in what comes next.


ECOSOC 2017 Organizational Session: ECOSOC will host its 2017 Organizational Session to discuss and agree on its Programme of Work from July 2016 to July 2017. dates: 28-29 July 2016  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: ECOSOC Secretariat  email: www:

Informal Group on Household Wastes: Basel Convention decision BC-12/13 called for the Informal Group on Household Waste to develop a workplan on environmentally sound management of household waste with a focus on the needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition. dates: 2-4 August 2016  location: Montevideo, Uruguay  contact: Matthias Kern, Basel Convention Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-8767  email: www:


BBNJ PrepCom 2: The second meeting of the Preparatory Committee for an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) will continue its negotiations. dates: 26 August - 9 September 2016  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea  phone: +1-212-963-3962  fax: +1-212-963-5847  email: www:

World Water Week 2016: World Water Week 2016 will focus on Water for Sustainable Growth, and will include over 140 events on subjects such as finance, the 2030 Agenda, integrity, gender issues, climate change, energy, sanitation, food, conflict resolution and water management.  dates: 28 August - 2 September 2016  location: Stockholm, Sweden  contact:  Stockholm International Water Institute  phone:  +46 -8-121-360-00  fax:  +46 -8-121-360-01  email: www:

2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress: The 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress will focus on the theme “Planet at the Crossroads.” The event will include a public forum consisting of debates, workshops, dialogues, roundtable discussions, training courses, music and exhibitions, as well as a Members’ Assembly that will deliberate on IUCN resolutions and recommendations regarding key conservation issues.  dates: 1-10 September 2016  location: Honolulu, Hawaii, US  contact: IUCN  phone: +41-22-999-0368  fax: +41-22-999-0002  email: congress@iucn.orgwww :

First Global Multi-Stakeholder SIDS Partnership Dialogue: The SIDS Partnership Framework mandated the UN Secretariat, in consultation with the Partnership Framework Steering Committee, to organize on an annual basis, an action-oriented, results-focused Global Multi-Stakeholder SIDS Partnership Dialogue. This first Dialogue will provide an opportunity to: review progress made by existing partnerships; share good practices, lessons learned and challenges and solutions from SIDS partnerships; and launch new partnerships for SIDS. date: 12 September 2016 [tentative]  location: TBA  contact: Ola Göransson, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs  phone: +1-212-963-7838  email: www:

UNGA High-Level Meeting on Refugees and Migrants: The UNGA will convene a high-level plenary meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, on 19 September 2016, immediately prior to the general debate of the 71st session.  date: 19 September 2016  location: UN Headquarters, New York  www:

2016 International Conference on Sustainable Development: The fourth annual International Conference on Sustainable Development, on the theme “Moving Forward: The SDGs in Practice,” will bring together members of the research, policy, practice and business communities to share practical solutions for achieving the SDGs at local and national levels. The Conference will focus on four thematic areas: innovation in technology and governance; data (data systems, gaps, how to collect); the science-policy-implementation interface; and education and training.  dates: 21-22 September 2016  location: Columbia University, New York, US  email: www:

Habitat III: The UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) aims to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable urban development, assess progress and accomplishments to date, address poverty and identify and address new and emerging challenges. The conference is expected to result in an action-oriented outcome document and the establishment of a “New Urban Agenda.” dates: 17-20 October 2016  location: Quito, Ecuador  contact: UN-HABITAT  phone: +1-917-367-4355 www

UNCCD CRIC 15: This special session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC) will address enhancing synergies in national reporting requirements under the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the recently adopted SDGs, especially the land degradation neutrality target 15.3. dates: 18-20 October 2016  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: UNCCD Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-2800  fax: +49-228-815-2898/99  email: www:

43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security: The 43rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security is expected to address a series of items arising from its Multi-year Programme of Work, including: nutrition; engagement with the SDGs; connecting smallholder farmers to markets; urbanization, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition; and monitoring. dates: 17-21 October 2016  location: FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy  contact: CFS Secretariat  email: www: /

2016 UNEP FI Global Roundtable and Annual General Meeting: The 2016 UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Global Roundtable and Annual General Meeting will bring together finance stakeholders from various sectors, including government, civil society and the UN, to discuss the role of the global financial sector in addressing the sustainable development and climate change agendas. dates: 25-27 October 2016  location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates  contact: UNEP Finance Initiative  email: www:

Laying the foundations in the UNECE region for economic integration and sustainable development toward 2030 conference: The conference objective is to discuss visions for and approaches to economic integration and cooperation to ensure sustainable economic development and the achievement of the SDGs in all countries in the UNECE region towards 2030 based on peaceful coexistence and respect for international law. dates: 26-27 October 2016  location: Minsk, Belarus  contact: UNECE  email: www:

UNFCCC COP 22: The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC will, inter alia, begin preparations for entry into force of the Paris Agreement.  dates: 7-18 November 2016  location: Marrakesh, Morocco  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: www:

Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation: This meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation aims to amplify the positive impact of development cooperation over the next 15 years and based on inclusive consultations the outcome document will help shape how existing and new development actors can partner to implement the 2030 Agenda and realize the SDGs. dates: 28 November – 1 December 2016 location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Patrick Tiefenbacher, UNDP  phone: +1-212-906-5581 email: www:

CBD COP 13, COP-MOP 8 to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and COP-MOP 2 to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing: The thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 13), the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 8), and the second meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (COP/MOP 2) will be held concurrently. dates: 4-17  December 2016  location: Cancun, Mexico   contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email:  www:

World Forum on Sustainable Development Data (World Data Forum):Organized by the UN High-level Group for Partnership, Coordination and Capacity-Building for Statistics for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the World Data Forum is intended to serve as a platform for intensifying cooperation on data for sustainable development with multiple stakeholders, including information technology professionals, geospatial information managers, data scientists, data users, and members from civil society. date: 20 January 2017 [tentative] location: Cape Town, South Africa  contact:  UN Statistics Division  fax:  +1 -212-963-9851 email: www:

High-Level UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14: This high-level UN Conference, co-hosted by the governments of Fiji and Sweden, will coincide with the World Oceans Day, and seeks to support the implementation of SDG 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development). dates: 5-9 June 2017  location: Nadi, Fiji  contact: Permanent Missions of Fiji and Sweden  phone: +1-212-687-4130 (Fiji); +1-212-583-2500 (Sweden)  www:

HLPF 2017: The Fifth HLPF, convening under the auspices of ECOSOC, will take place in July 2017, followed by a ministerial meeting of the Forum with the tentative theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” subject to a decision by UNGA.  dates: July 2017 [tentative]  location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UNDESA  fax: +1-212-963-4260  www:

For additional upcoming events, see

Further information