UN High-Level Political Forum finds that progress in the SDGs is unequally distributed, pledges that "no one is left behind"

Monday, August 7, 2017



Ministers and representatives convened mid-July at the UN headquarters in New York for the fifth High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to discuss developments related to the overarching theme of “Eradicating Poverty and Promoting Prosperity in a Changing World.” The forum has the mandate to review the commitment and progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and provides recommendations after considering new and emerging sustainable development challenges. It meets under the General Assembly every four years and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in other years.

Within the 2030 Agenda, the set of goals reviewed in depth this year were Goal 1 (end poverty in all its forms everywhere), Goal 2 (end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture), Goal 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), Goal 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls), Goal 9 (build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation), Goal 14 (conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development), and Goal 17 (revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development).

Some conclusions drawn during the forum were that many countries showed progress with implementing the SDGs. But, progress has been unequally distributed. The recently released ministerial declaration of the 2017 HLPF and the 2017 Session of the ECOSOC, who sponsored HLPF this year, has reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a special focus on ensuring no one is left behind.

The declaration’s emphasis on inclusivity and cooperation are aligned with CAPSA’s goals of tackling food insecurity and promoting sustainable agriculture through closing technology gaps, knowledge sharing and capacity development. This, as well as other areas of relevance to CAPSA mentioned in the ministerial declaration are outlined below:

  1. Emphasis on inclusivity and the importance of innovation, industrialization and cooperation in accelerating economic growth:

The declaration reaffirmed the UNs’ commitment to ending poverty and hunger, and ensuring healthy lives at all ages everywhere. Specifically, the declaration stresses that the goal is “a world in which every country enjoys sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, leading to decent work or all; a world where innovation, industrialization and cooperation in productive capacity can accelerate economic growth.”

The declaration also acknowledges the need to ensure infrastructure connectivity, and states that poor access to infrastructure remains a major impediment to development worldwide. It further states: “We recognize that inclusive and sustainable industrialization is integral for the structural transformation of economies in order to create decent jobs for all, promote productivity economies in order to create decent jobs for all, promote productivity growth, energy efficiency, innovation, social inclusion, enhance incomes and achieve sustainable development.” According to the declaration, closing technology gaps within and between countries, as well as scaling up capacity-building at all levels is essential to achieving sustainable development and poverty eradication. Mentioning the progress made by the United Nations’ Technology Facilitation Mechanism, the declaration adds, “We also emphasize that the spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress [and] to bridge the digital divide…”

  1. Notes how poverty is concentrated in rural areas and progress to eradicate poverty lags in some areas:

The declaration recognizes that although extreme poverty has fallen globally, progress has been uneven, and 1.6 billion people still live in poverty. It adds that while there are poor people all over the world, poverty is disproportionately concentrated in rural areas. The declaration urges countries to analyze their own national plans and make sure that plans include measures to strengthen poverty eradication, specifically measures to “identify populations most at risk of remaining in or falling back into poverty, and place special focus on reaching them…”

  1. Small-scale food producers are most vulnerable, particularly women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers. And resilient, sustainable and inclusive food systems must be at the heart of all efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger:

In the ministerial declaration, there’s a focus on gender equality when enhancing the capacity for sustainable agricultural productivity that echoes the UN’s commitments stated during the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly earlier this summer. The declaration notes that climate change and land degradation have increased people’s vulnerability to extreme weather events, and that the people most likely to be affected are small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers.

According to the declaration, sustainable and inclusive food systems that protect, enhance and restore natural resources and sustain rural and urban livelihoods, as well as ensure access to nutritious foods are important to eradicating poverty and hunger. “Coherent policies and accountable institutions that respect tenure rights and prioritize women’s empowerment and gender equality are imperative,” the declaration adds.

  1. Partnerships are integral to reducing poverty worldwide, and the UN’s regional commissions have a role to play in ensuring stronger partnerships:

The declaration encourages strengthening international cooperation to support sustainable development. The declaration also states: “We emphasize that the scale and level of ambition of the 2030 Agenda requires strengthening and promoting effective and transparent multi-stakeholder partnerships, including public-private partnerships, by enhancing engagement of governments with global, regional and subregional bodies and programmes, the scientific community, the private sector, the donor community, non-governmental organizations, cooperatives, community groups, academic institutions, and other relevant actors.” It encourages the United Nations system to enhance collaboration with partners and to share knowledge to improve transparency, coherence, due diligence, impact and accountability.

We hope this information about the most recent global commitments is widely shared and contributes to shaping further regional cooperation.


Prepared by Calin Brown under the supervision of Masakazu Ichimura, CAPSA


Link to the Ministerial Declaration: http://undocs.org/E/2017/L.29

Link to the High-level Political Forum: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf