On the third day of HLPF, delegates discussed challenges that must be overcome to achieve gender equality (SDG 5). Several of the “architects” of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) participated in a discussion on the 2023 SDG Summit and called for the process to be inclusive and disruptive. Delegates also considered how the outcomes from the UN Ocean Conference and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Ministerial Conference contributed to efforts to achieve SDG 14 (life below water).
HRH Princess Dina Mired of Jordan opened the discussion on SDG 5 and highlighted that women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and face increased levels of domestic violence. Denis Mukwege, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Democratic Republic of the Congo, called on governments to invest in policies and grassroots organizations and use the legislative toolbox from the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council report.
Speakers also underlined the importance of: national-level gender budgeting; access to sexual and reproductive health; addressing the digital gender divide; ensuring access to energy for women; supporting LGBTQI+ rights and preventing hate speech online and offline; and ensuring women’s representation in all levels of governance. The role and potential of men in promoting gender equality was also noted.
During a discussion on planning for the 2023 SDG Summit, which will take place under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in September 2023, speakers were encouraged to focus on three aspects: process, outcome, and dovetailing with other conferences. The Co-Facilitators of the 2030 Agenda Process, Macharia Kamau, Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya, and David Donoghue, Distinguished Fellow, ODI, suggested focusing on how upcoming summits can ensure implementation and promote a stronger role for civil society, regions and cities. Paula Caballero, The Nature Conservancy, called for a single, compelling and inclusive summit in 2023.
Among other ideas, panelists recommended that the Summit should generate a concise action plan and “simple, scalable, and do-able” solutions, include all stakeholders, and take an integrated approach towards the SDGs and ensure cross-learning. Panelists also said the Summit of the Future, which is scheduled to take place at the same time as the SDG Summit, should complement, rather than compete with, the SDG Summit.
In her keynote address on the discussion on SDG 14, Sylvia Earle, Marine Biologist and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, emphasized that we must work to build back and maintain the ocean’s biogeochemical balance, underscoring that the ocean sustains all life on Earth. Angela Paolini Ellard, Deputy Director-General, WTO, highlighted recently-concluded negotiations on a global legally binding agreement to curb fisheries subsidies.
Speakers discussed the need to conclude the negotiations on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, and for an ambitious treaty on plastic pollution. They also emphasized the importance of science and knowledge sharing to protect the ocean, including through: improving ocean literacy; investing in science; directing science towards sustainable ocean management; and involving youth through the Early Career Ocean Professional Network Programme.
On the margins of the meeting, the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022 was released on 7 July. This report, prepared by the UN Statistics Division, serves as the basis for data on progress presented during the HLPF. HLPF 2022 will reconvene on Monday, 11 July 2022.