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Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)

Volume 33 Number 10 | Friday, 26 June 2015


High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

26 June - 8 July 2015 | UN Headquarters, New York


Languages: EN (HTML/PDF) FR (HTML/PDF)
Visit our IISD/ENB Meeting Coverage from UN Headquarters, New York at: http://enb.iisd.org/hlpf/2015/

The 2015 meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) convenes today at the UN Headquarters in New York. The theme of the meeting is “Strengthening integration, implementation and review - the HLPF after 2015.”

The first part of the meeting will consist of moderated dialogues on a variety of issues, including how to move from vision to transformative action, the role of the private sector in implementation, how the HLPF can support national action, involvement of scientific communities in implementation, regional support for national implementation, small island developing states (SIDS) and investment in sustainable development. 

The second part of the meeting will comprise a ministerial segment, which is expected to include dialogues on developing a transformative integrated agenda, emerging issues for the future, communicating and implementing a universal agenda, shaping the HLPF for the next 15 years, reviewing and monitoring progress, realizing the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and transitioning from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the SDGs.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE HLPF

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 United Nations 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 (OWG) on SDGs to report to the UNGA at its 68th session and to report 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 MDGs.

RESOLUTION 67/290: The President of the 67th UNGA called on the ambassadors from Brazil and Italy to conduct 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 resolutions 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—for 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 means of implementation (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. The session theme was “Building the future we want from Rio+20 to the post-2015 development agenda.” The session was divided into several segments that featured keynote presentations from Heads of State and Government and Ministers and remarks from the floor on the following themes: “From vision to action”; “Global partnerships for development to create jobs and improve sustainable lifestyles”; and “Mapping the way forward for eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development.”

SECOND SESSION OF THE HLPF: The second session of the HLPF took place from 30 June - 9 July 2014, at UN Headquarters in New York. The session on the theme “achieving the MDGs and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda including the SDGs” adopted a Ministerial Declaration 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; emphasized accelerating progress towards the target of 0.7% of gross national income as official development assistance by 2015; committed to establishing a strong, ambitious, inclusive, and people-centered post-2015 agenda; reaffirmed all principles of the Rio Declaration, including, inter alia, common but differentiated responsibility; reaffirmed that poverty eradication shall be central to the post-2015 agenda; and called for a transparent intergovernmental process that will include inputs from all stakeholders.

INTERSESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS

OWG: The OWG on SDGs held its first eight meetings, also referred to as the “input” or “stocktaking” phase, between March 2013 and February 2014 at UN Headquarters in New York. In February 2014, the Co-Chairs, Macharia Kamau (Kenya) and Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary), released a “stocktaking” document, reviewing the discussions to date, and a “focus areas” document, outlining 19 focus areas as the basis for further discussion.

Prior to each of the subsequent five sessions, the Co-Chairs released revised documents for OWG delegates’ consideration. A document considered the “zero draft” of the goals and targets was issued on 2 June 2014, containing 17 proposed goals and 212 targets. On 19 July 2014, at the conclusion of the 13th session of the OWG and following two sessions held primarily in informal consultations, the Group adopted by acclamation a report containing 17 proposed SDGs and 169 targets, and agreed to submit the proposal to the UNGA for consideration and action at its 68th session.

On 10 September 2014, the UNGA adopted resolution 68/309, by which it: acknowledged the conclusion of the work of the OWG; welcomed its report; and decided that the proposal of the OWG contained in its report shall be the main basis for integrating the SDGs into the post-2015 development agenda, while recognizing that other inputs will also be considered in the intergovernmental negotiating process in 2015.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS ON THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA:The first session convened from 19-21 January 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York, and conducted a “stocktaking” of governments’ views on the agenda. This was the first of eight scheduled sessions to prepare the outcome of the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015. On the basis of this session, the Co-Facilitators prepared an Elements Paper for discussion at the next session.

The second session convened from 17-20 February 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York. This session focused on the declaration component of the outcome that will be adopted at the Summit on the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015.

The third session convened from 23-27 March 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York. This meeting focused on: a proposed timeline and roadmap for the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) to create an indicator framework for the SDGs; country experiences in implementing sustainable development; and arrangements for a joint meeting with the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) preparatory process during their April session.

The fourth session convened as a joint meeting with the FfD3 process from 21-24 April 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates focused on: the deliberations during the second FfD3 preparatory meeting, which had convened the previous week; a discussion with representatives from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund; proposals for the creation of a technology facilitation mechanism and other science, technology and innovation issues; the relationship between the FfD3 and post-2015 processes; follow up and review on FfD3 and MOI; and coherence between the outcome documents from the two processes, outstanding issues and the way forward.

The fifth session convened from 18-22 May 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York. During the week, participants discussed what exactly “follow up and review” entails at the national, regional and global levels. There was much discussion on the role of the HLPF in this regard. There was disagreement on whether there should be technical revisions to the targets, which were approved by the OWG in July 2014. The Co-Facilitators prepared the zero draft of the outcome document on the basis of the session.

The sixth session convened from 22-25 June 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates began negotiations on the zero draft of the outcome document, reviewing each section including: the declaration, goals and targets, follow up and review and MOI.

IAEG-SDGs: The First Meeting of the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) met at UN Headquarters in New York from 1-2 June 2015. The IAEG-SDGs addressed the Group’s methods of work, considerations for the indicator framework, concerns about specific indicators, and the way forward. The IAEG-SDGs was established by the UNSC at its 46th session in March 2015, to develop an indicator framework for the monitoring of the goals and targets of the post-2015 development agenda at the global level, and to support its implementation.

According to the draft conclusions, the IAEG-SDGs agreed that global indicators should be limited in number, and include multi-purpose indicators that address several targets at the same time. It recognized that some targets might require multiple indicators, and recognized the need to systematically address the issue of disaggregation, and to leave no one behind. The Group agreed on 26-28 October 2015 as tentative dates for the next meeting, and said the global indicator framework will be finalized by the end of November, for submission to the 47th session of the UNSC in March 2016.

REGIONAL FORA: In preparation for HLPF 2015, five regional fora were held: the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Regional Forum, 19-20 March 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York; Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Regional Forum, 14-16 April 2015, in Geneva, Switzerland; Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) Regional Forum, 5-7 May 2015, in Manama, Bahrain; Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Regional Forum, 21-22 May 2015, in Bangkok, Thailand; and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Regional Forum, 16-18 June 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

These meetings provided regional input into HLPF 2015, variously addressing issues related to: a regional monitoring and accountability framework; form and functions of the regional fora beyond 2015 and linkages with the HLPF; synergies between regional and global processes related to the post-2015 development agenda; commitment to action on sustainable development in times of change; SIDS; sustainable consumption and production; new and emerging issues and the science-policy interface; and regional sustainable development issues.