Mr. Liu Zhenmin Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs

Expert Group Meeting on

Lessons learned from the first cycle of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)

Your Excellency, Ambassador King,
Your Excellency, Ambassador de Almeida,
Excellencies, Friends, old and new,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to be here at this important Expert Group Meeting as we are intensively preparing the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in coming July and September. I am very grateful for the support of the European Commission in organizing this meeting. And I am thankful to everyone here for dedicating your time to discuss with us, how to improve the High-level Political Forum.

Achieving the 2030 Agenda is a collective endeavor. It demands strong policy response from countries at all levels of development and from actors across the spectrum. The HLPF is at the heart of the follow up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the global level. It needs to track progress towards the SDGs, understand trends in implementation and key challenges, and promote acceleration of implementation.

Since 2015, the HLPF has established itself as a vibrant home for the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. We have learned lessons on what it does well and what it could do better. At its 74th session, the General Assembly will review how the HLPF has worked so far. Today’s EGM is the opportunity to launch the reflection to prepare this review.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you know, HLPF under ECOSOC, conducts thematic reviews during the first five days of its meeting. By the end of the first cycle, Member States and other stakeholders will have reviewed all the 17 SDGs. They will also have discussed thematic issues, from:

  • leaving no one behind,
  • eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity,
  • transforming towards sustainable and resilient societies, to
  • empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.

As my department, DESA, spearheads the preparation for the SDG review at the HLPF, we do our best to prepare discussions that could attract different communities – ones that do not always get together, but need to hear each other. As we all know, it is only through integrated policy making that we can achieve the 2030 Agenda and deliver the SDGs. For that, all actors need to work together across sectors and levels.

Looking back at the lessons learned, we will try to do even more to assist countries and stakeholders to achieve policy integration and alignment of SDGs. Such alignment is needed with national and sub-national development strategies, and coherence with other global, regional and national agendas.
Distinguished Colleagues,

As you are aware, the HLPF also provides a platform for presentation of voluntary national reviews. DESA has put in place a preparatory process to help all VNR countries in preparing and delivering their VNRs.

These countries tell us that this has been a rewarding and real learning experience. Let me share with you some of the comments we have heard from them on this matter:

First, preparing a review has accentuated the need and the benefit of a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach in implementation as well as follow up and review of the 2030 Agenda.

Second, the VNR preparation process has allowed to identify challenges, gaps and obstacles to the implementation.

Third, the process of preparing VNRs has been of great benefit. It has provided countries with the opportunity to anchor sustainable development at the highest possible political level, and to ensure ownership of the 2030 Agenda by engaging a large variety of stakeholders.

Lastly, the process of preparing as well as delivering the review has further enhanced peer learning and knowledge exchange, as well as spurred new partnerships, which may not have otherwise taken place.

However, we all know that challenges persist in the presentation at the HLPF. Both complaints and advice have been offered for improvement, year after year. But we are in the hands of Member States to see whether and how they can improve this process.

One issue is the limited time allocated to the actual VNR presentation, given that the number of countries presenting is quite large. At the same time, it is still possible to benefit by having an engaging interaction that will spur peer learning and even partnerships on critical problems.

Whether and how countries will want to improve this process – possibly by giving more time to the presentations, or by finding other ways to strengthen the benefit to VNR countries that are presenting – will be discussed at the 76th Session of the General Assembly.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The HLPF has proved to be an integral part of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The positive feedback from countries and stakeholders on its impact is testament to its success.

Saying that, we also realize that some aspects of the Forum can be improved to ensure it fully realizes its mandate and helps achieve sustainable development.

DESA is ready to assist countries in their discussions when they review the HLPF at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly. Indeed, expert group meetings like this one – which allow for an open expression of views – is an excellent example of preparing for the intergovernmental discussions next year.

I look forward to hearing your ideas on ways to improve the Forum as a whole.

I thank you.

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