2016 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

From 11-20 July 2016, the 2016 meeting of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) took place at UN Headquarters in New York. Under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), 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 program, 37 side events were organized.

According to the Rio+20 outcome document and G. A. Resolution 67/290, the HLPF has the mandate to follow-up and review the   2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since this was the first meeting after the adoption of the SDGs, 22 countries offered voluntary reviews to the implementation of the goals, focusing mostly on how countries are preparing for and managing their transition towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

There was sufficient space for civil society participation during the 2 weeks of the meeting, through the Major Groups and Other Stakeholders mechanism. From the newly established Educational and Academic entities Stakeholder Group (EASG), there were  a few representatives from ICAE, the Global Campaign for Education, and Education International. The EASG organized a successful side event on Inclusive and Equitable Education with special focus on gender equality and persons with disabilities.

Even though there was sufficient space, and many representatives attended from civil society organizations, not much advocacy took place, mostly due to the working and negotiation modalities of the meeting. During the first week, a brief plenary was followed by official moderated dialogues and side events. Then, on the HLPF Ministerial Segment, which convened the second week from 18-20 July, heads of government and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shared the main messages from first HLPF week and on topics related to the meeting’s theme of “ensuring that no one is left behind”. The following sessions focused on the first round of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

After each panel of the VNRs civil society had just one chance to react in a 3 minutes intervention, which remains a very narrow scope of participation, and certainly not enough time to share different points of views or topics that might have been left behind by the usually over-optimist national reports. During the first week side events, colleagues from the Women’s Major Group and the Reflection Group presented alternative reports from almost all of the 22 countries that provided VNRs, identifying structural obstacles and challenges to the implementation of the SDGs1. These reports also showed the scarce participation of civil society in the processes of planning and implementation of the 2030 Agenda at country level.

In terms of education, while some countries mentioned its importance and/or expressed their strong support in their VNRs, none of them described their implementation strategy in terms of SDG4 and targets. Furthermore, none of the countries mentioned the   Education 2030 Framework for Action that is expected to drive education implementation in the SDG era2.

The HLPF concluded with a Ministerial Declaration, focusing on the meeting’s theme of “Ensuring that no one is left behind”. The declaration was adopted, after discussions related to the mention of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which for Nicaragua is not being able to limit warming to 1.5°C as expected. The inclusion of an explicit reference to occupied territories was also discussed, as requested by the Arab States; however it came about to a reference on the difficulties that undertake territories in conflict situation.

By María Graciela Cuervo.

Source: ICAE Secretariat.