Is the HLPF Working?

In mid-July the UN held the first meeting of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved in September 2015. We were very excited to see how the process would work. This is the really practical side of sustainable development governance on the country level—how the 2030 agenda is actually going to be implemented. The meeting was divided into five days of preliminary dialog on related issues, and two-three days of Voluntary National Reviews from the 22 countries who volunteered to give them this first year. During those three days, high-level ministers from each country were supposed to share “best practices” and constructive criticisms with each other, regarding how they are implementing the SDGs and mainstreaming them into their country plans and strategies. Here is a fairly objective summary of the meeting (also in French).

On the plus side, this meeting of the HLPF had more direction and focus. Many countries have begun to put implementation mechanisms in place and are beginning to collect national data. Developing countries were encouraged to hear developed countries confessing that they have problems too! On the negative side, there are presently no follow-up mechanisms in place, and there was no time for real interactions—even by other member states—and even less time for civil society input. A report from the Women’s Major Group said that only 2 of the 22 countries reviewed had seriously engaged civil society in the review process, especially women’s organizations.