New High-level Political Forum Starts Work to Reinvigorate, Accelerate Sustainable Development Action

24 September 2013

New High-level Political Forum Starts Work to Reinvigorate, Accelerate Sustainable Development Action

24 September 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

New High-level Political Forum Starts Work to Reinvigorate,


Accelerate Sustainable Development Action


With the goal of injecting new energy into the global effort to implement sustainable development, world leaders will gather at the United Nations today for the inaugural session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

The new Forum represents a major step forward in the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), where Member States agreed that there had been insufficient progress on implementing sustainable development — by promoting prosperity and social well-being while protecting the environment — at a time when many global challenges threaten to roll back the successes achieved in fighting poverty.

In the outcome document from Rio+20, “The Future We Want”, Member States called for the creation of a high-level political forum to ensure that sustainable development tops the agenda at the highest levels of Government and is embraced by all actors. 

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Forum’s establishment is a significant step towards realizing the vision adopted at Rio+20.  “The Forum is a key platform for examining today’s challenges in a holistic and integrated manner.  It can be the catalyst for a strengthened global partnership for sustainable development, providing political leadership grounded in solid science.”

The Forum starts its work at a propitious moment as the international community debates the future of the United Nations development agenda that will carry forward the work of the Millennium Development Goals after the 2015 target year.  “In achieving the primary goals of overcoming poverty and ensuring sustainable development, the High-level Political Forum will help renew partnerships and enhance multilateral engagement,” said General Assembly President John Ashe.  “Its role will be paramount in ensuring implementation of the Rio+20 commitments and the post-2015 development agenda, which will include the sustainable development goals.”

He continued:  “One distinct benefit of the new forum is that it is designed to attract participation from representatives of all three dimensions of sustainable development, rather than chiefly from members of the environmental community.  This is critical to ensuring that sustainability is a central modality to development, and that it is mainstreamed into policy, planning and living.  The Forum’s guidance must be strategic and visionary.  Its work must be attuned to emerging challenges and its impact must be real and game-changing.  Moreover, it must be responsive to the needs of States and their citizens.”

The Forum has a novel institutional structure, bringing Heads of State and Government together every four years, under the auspices of the General Assembly, to promote implementation of sustainable development and address new challenges.  Their deliberations will translate into an inter-governmentally agreed declaration.  The Forum will also meet annually, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council at the ministerial level on sustainable development issues.

Starting in 2016, the Forum will also include reviews on the implementation of sustainable development by all countries and the United Nations system, which should allow greater accountability and focus on action on the ground.  “People have a right to expect real results from the new Forum,” said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.  “There are real challenges that must be faced.  People need jobs, health care and education.  And they also need food security, clean air and clean water.  They need development that is sustainable, and the Forum has to deliver progress in all of these areas.”

The Forum replaces the Commission on Sustainable Development, which concluded its work on 20 September after 20 years of promoting sustainable development.  Bektas Mukhamedzhanov, Kazakhstan’s Vice-Minister for Environment Protection and Chairperson of the Commission’s final session, said the Forum must provide strategic yet actionable direction in the pursuit of sustainable development.  “We have learned a lot from the successes and shortcomings of the Commission on Sustainable Development over the years,” he said.  “Now is the time to put this knowledge to good use.”

The Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly will address the High-level Political Forum’s inaugural session, which will take place on the same day as the opening of the General Assembly’s high-level general debate.  Also addressing the session will be the Forum’s co-facilitators from Brazil and Italy, as well as World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

Following the opening will be a series of “Leaders Dialogues” that will explore issues ranging from a vision for the Forum to global partnerships that create jobs and improve sustainable lifestyles.  Representatives from civil society will participate in all the discussions.

More information on the Forum can be found at

Media Contact

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.