High-level Forum Must Tailor Guidance, Follow-up on Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals to National Priorities, Speakers Stress in General Debate

7 July 2015
High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, AM & PM Meetings

High-level Forum Must Tailor Guidance, Follow-up on Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals to National Priorities, Speakers Stress in General Debate

The High-level Political Forum, convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, must provide robust monitoring and follow-up to the post-2015 sustainable development agenda while taking into consideration the national realities and priorities of States, said speakers as the Forum opened its general debate this afternoon.

In particular, the Forum — which was established to replace the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development — should offer guidance and recommendations to States as they sought to implement the 17 proposed sustainable development goals, ranging from ending poverty to empowering women to combating climate change.

In that vein, the representative of Rwanda, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the Forum would provide political leadership and enhance the integration of sustainable development’s three dimensions.  The global follow-up and review mechanism should be universal in scope and owned by each country; it must be Government-led and voluntary, fostering positive mutual cooperation based on long-term incentives, such as sharing lessons learned.

South Africa’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that poverty eradication underpinned all efforts of the Forum.  As it evolved, a bottom-up approach, more transparency and national ownership were needed.  As one of the main challenges facing developing countries was inadequate capacity for implementing sustainable development, he hoped the Forum would devote sessions to the building of capacity in such countries.

Speaking for the European Union, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said effective monitoring and review would help countries maximize progress.  The mechanism was not meant to “finger point”, but rather to foster exchange and provide political and leadership focus.  The Forum itself could also play a role with respect to global commitments, and must be inclusive and “inviting”, he said.

The representative of Maldives, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the Forum should consider the special challenges faced by those States, as well as the urgent solutions required to address them.  He agreed with other speakers that the Forum must not become a “talk shop” or a platform to “name and shame” countries, but instead, should focus on translating discussions into action.  While coherence was critical throughout the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, coherence did not mean that “one size fits all”.  The design of the review and follow-up should take into account the practical concerns of countries such as small island developing States.

Also this afternoon, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo introduced two reports of the Secretary-General, entitled “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals:  what it will take” (document E/2015/68) and “Strengthening and building institutions for policy integration in the post-2015 era” (document E/2015/69).  He said that the international community had made important strides in defining the scope of the post-2015 development agenda; it was now time to better understand how those goals would be implemented.  “Development goals translate into development results when they are supported by a comprehensive and integrated policy framework,” he said in that regard.

Increasingly complex challenges would require deepened policy integration and coordination at all levels, supported by a greater emphasis on integration and coherence across different sectors and actors, he went on.  Existing gaps would need to be filled to make policy integration work in practice, and innovation at all levels of Government, as well as strong national ownership, would be critical.

José Antonio Ocampo, Chair, Committee for Development Policy, introduced the Committee’s report on its seventeenth session (document E/2015/33).  He said the commitments that Member States would make at the Sustainable Development Summit in September would be voluntary, but “morally binding”.  An effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism must be in place to hold stakeholders accountable for commitments made.  Such a mechanism should identify obstacles and provide guidance on how to fix ineffective policy.  Countries needed to adapt the sustainable development goals to their own national priorities, he said, adding that such adaptation ensured ownership and enabled the accountability framework to be an inclusive, bottom-up process.

The representatives of Belize, Sri Lanka (on behalf of the Group of 15), Tonga (on behalf of Pacific Small Island Developing States), Ireland, Cyprus, Bahrain, Romania, Honduras, Burkina Faso, Russian Federation, Italy, Czech Republic, Croatia, Indonesia, Finland, Estonia, Thailand and Switzerland.

This morning, the Forum held a panel discussion on “Communicating and implementing a universal agenda at home”, which focused on how different countries planned to implement the new sustainable development goals, as well as how those goals would be communicated around the world.  This afternoon, in parallel with the general debate, it held a second panel discussion entitled, “Our High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in the next 15 years”.  Among other things, that discussion centred on how the Forum could be most useful to boost implementation of the goals, the focus of future sessions and how to build on lessons learned.

The Forum will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 8 July, to continue its general debate.

As the Council continued the ministerial segment of its High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, it held two panel discussions.

Panel I

This morning’s panel discussion was entitled, “Communicating and implementing a universal agenda at home”.  Moderated by Laura Trevelyan, Anchor and Correspondent, British Broadcasting Corporation, it featured Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Minister for Social Development, Costa Rica; Thomas Silberhorn, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany; Piotr Otawski, Deputy Minister for Environment, Poland; and Jim Clarken, Executive Director of Oxfam, Ireland.

The lead discussants were Joško Klisović, Deputy Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Croatia; Peter Davies, Commissioner for Sustainable Futures, Wales; and Brigitte Johanne Trauernicht-Jordan, Vice-President, SOS Children’s Villages International, Austria.

Opening that discussion, Ms. TREVELYAN said that, while the Millennium Development Goals had proved extremely successful, 800 million people around the world still lived in poverty and those goals had proved to be too narrow.  In contrast, the new sustainable development goals had so far been praised for being inclusive, but had also been criticized for being too vague.  The panel would spotlight how different countries planned to implement those new goals, as well as how those goals would be communicated around the world.

Mr. QUESADA said the narrative of poverty and development had been limited, as “nobody really owns it” and no one was responsible for it.  There was no precise answer to the question of who were most vulnerable, and there was no call to action.  Opacity of data was another challenge.  He urged the international community to “open the black box” to better understand the real causes of poverty and underdevelopment.  In Costa Rica, the Government was working to develop a multidimensional measurement of poverty, and linked each indicator to a responsible Government official.

“We need to open the data to the whole society,” he said, stressing that gathering concrete data from the community level was critical to bringing about action.  Much poverty in middle-income countries was hidden behind averages.  Summarizing his key messages, he emphasized the need to make needs as visible as possible, empower different actors, fight against the opacity of averages and build a narrative that inspires and engages.

Mr. SILBERHORN said the communication process around the new sustainable development agenda had already begun, as its evolution had involved many stakeholders including civil society.  National and international parameters must be set towards sustainability.  Moreover, a paradigm shift was needed to make sustainability the baseline for all of the international community’s actions.  “We have to take our own responsibility and agree on a shared responsibility for global public good,” he said.

In Germany, the sustainable development goals would be a key centre point of the development of the country’s new sustainability policy, he said.  A multistakeholder approach was needed and ownership must be generated.  The agenda should be communicated in a way that was easily understandable.  Germany was already implementing a number of projects to help stakeholders contribute to sustainability, he said, describing a project under way with the textile industry.  Finally, a United Nations system that was “fit for purpose” and a strong follow-up and review mechanism was needed.

Mr. OTAWSKI said the new sustainable development agenda should be universally applicable while taking into account national capacities and respecting national policies.  Education and awareness-raising was crucial to help people believe that the goals were something of individual interest.  At last year’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in Lima, Peru, countries had adopted a strategy on climate change awareness-raising.  In response, Poland had initiated a domestic process to produce educational materials to introduce young people to the issue of climate change.  The country also worked within the European Union’s nature preservation framework and had passed a law introducing more instruments for landscape protection.  “We need to make people proud of what had been achieved,” he said, adding that the international community could be proud of the ambitious new goals.

Mr. CLARKEN said the post-2015 development agenda would only be meaningful to the extent that countries could deliver on them.  They should implement them in a coherent way, he said, stressing the importance of clear targets and indicators for measurement.  The next 15 years could be the most transformative period in our lifetime, he said; however, there must be an investment in communication channels to excite people.  The sustainable development agenda should centre around three themes: tackling extreme inequality, ending extreme poverty and fully confronting climate change.  The agenda was not just about addressing the needs of certain disadvantaged groups; the majority of the world wanted to live in a world that was more just and equitable.  “We need to work with the wealthy to help them be strong participants in this incredible journey,” he said, calling for buy-in at all levels.  The critical oversight role of the Forum over the next years also needed to be considered in detail.

Mr. KLISOVIĆ said that it was the sole responsibility of Governments to translate the sustainable development agenda into national policies.  Communication was a more complex question.  Before Croatia had joined the European Union, the country had launched an information campaign to raise awareness among individual stakeholders about what joining the Union would mean.  “People must care about issues, understand them and think about them on a daily basis,” he said, noting that “trend-setters” were needed within communities.  The Government should disseminate information in a manner that all stakeholders would understand and in a way that they felt engaged.  In approaching any stakeholder, one should avoid preaching or finger-pointing.

Speaking next, Mr. DAVIES said that Wales had had devolution since 1998 under the banner “One Wales, One Planet”.  That work had informed and shaped new legislation, namely the Well-Being of Future Generations Act, which set out seven national goals for the country.  It required Government to set the indicators and targets for progress under those goals, and set out ways of working to achieve those goals in practice.  The process was directly related to the sustainable development goals.  The legislation introduced the role of Future Generations Commissioner, whose responsibility it was to ensure that the goals were being met.  For every child born in the country, a tree was planted in Wales and one in Africa.  It was critical that such small actions were connected to the bigger picture; that connection was a critical role of the United Nations.

Asked by Ms. Trevelyan which goal was particularly relevant for his country, he responded that the goal of being a “globally responsible Wales” — including, specifically, on climate change — was particularly important.

Ms. TRAUERNICHT-JORDAN said that the direct involvement of children and young people was crucial to the implementation of and follow-up to the sustainable development agenda.  Without their inputs and energy, the success of sustainability was at stake.  Indeed, children and young people had been called the “torchbearers and torch-starters” of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.  Child-focused agencies had developed some best practices, she said, citing direct consultations with children on the sustainable development goals as an example.  A child-friendly version of those goals had been created, including activities to foster reflection.  A boy and a girl had been invited to New York to share their view of the goals.  That exercise demonstrated the outreach potential of the new sustainable development goals.

When the floor was opened for questions and comments, many speakers shared their experiences with sustainable development at the national level.  With regard to the new sustainable development goals, several emphasized the need for a cross-cutting system that allowed for global follow-up and for coherence.  However, others stressed that the new goals must allow countries to adapt global solutions to national circumstances.

A discussion emerged about the title of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda and the sustainable development goals, with some pointing out that “SDGs” was a technical term understood only by experts.

In that regard, Palau’s delegate agreed with the need to “inspire and engage”.  Several sustainable development goals — including those relating to climate change and the oceans — were critical to his country and to other small island States that faced challenges to their very existence.  He suggested changing the name of the goals in order to better reach the global public about those challenges and others.

Mr. SILBERHORN said that “we need to be understood by our public”.  He agreed with the need to translate acronyms into more easily understood language through awareness-raising.  For his part, Mr. CLARKEN also agreed that the title of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda was difficult to understand, but said that the language had likely been agreed upon in negotiations.  The most important thing was to translate the agenda into meaningful ideas through communications campaigns.

On the same issue, Mr. QUESADA stressed the need for storytelling and “heart-opening ideas”.  Statisticians could often be poor storytellers.  In a similar vein, the representative of Ireland stressed the need to avoid “preaching” to people.  Symbols, key messages and slogan could be more effective communicators than technical terms and jargon, he said.

Ms. TREVELYAN asked the panellists whether the sustainable development goals were flexible enough to take on board the huge challenge of today’s unprecedented levels of migration.

Mr. OTAWSKI responded that there was no “one policy that fits all”, and that each country must respond to the refugee crisis in its own way.  Proper standards of living must be provided to migrants.  Meanwhile, Mr. SILBERHORN said that all people around the world were affected by the world’s crises; the world had more refugees now than after the Second World War.  He urged countries to cooperate early to answer the question:  “Why are they fleeing?”  The root causes of the crises that drove migration must be addressed.

Mr. CLARKEN responded that the large number of refugees was linked to conflict, climate change, underdevelopment and other major global issues.  The World Humanitarian Summit next year would try to address some of those issues.  Mr. QUESADA said that the issue of migration had to be dealt with in a cross-cutting way, and was directly linked with the issues of gender and youth.

Also taking part in the discussion were the delegates of Belgium, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Azerbaijan, Jamaica as well as the European Union.   Representatives of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), the major group for women and the major group for children and youth also participated.


KINGSLEY MAMABOLO (South Africa), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that, with poverty eradication underpinning its efforts, the High-level Political Forum would provide guidance and recommendations to take the agenda forward.  It also would provide a platform for dialogue and sharing lessons learned.  The Group emphasized that “every step we take” should be geared towards strengthening the Forum to fulfil the mandate envisioned for it.  A bottom-up approach, more transparency and national ownership were needed.  One of the challenges facing developing countries was inadequate capacity for implementing sustainable development.  He, therefore, hoped the Forum would have sessions dedicated to building the capacity of developing countries, in particular African countries, land-locked countries and small island developing States, as well as middle-income countries and countries under occupation.

LISEL ALAMILLA, Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), aligned herself with the Group of 77 and China, the Alliance of Small Island Developing States and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).  She said the Forum was an integral part of the review and follow-up process of the post-2015 development agenda, and that it would provide a “multi-layered approach” to aggregating relevant inputs starting first from a national level and moving upward through the regional and international levels.  The Forum should also play an important role in the review and follow-up of the Samoa Pathway, and devote adequate time to the discussion of sustainable development challenges facing developing countries, such as those in CARICOM, small island developing States and middle-income countries.  She listed a number of challenges facing those countries, including small, vulnerable economies, limited production and market diversification, lack of economies of scale and high dependence on international trade, as well as vulnerability to natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.

KARMENU VELLA, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Union, said effective monitoring and review helped countries maximize progress.  It was not meant to “finger point”, but rather, to foster exchange and provide political and leadership focus.  For its part, the Forum should draw on other national and regional reviews, making recommendations for further action at national, regional and global levels.  Ideally, each State would volunteer to participate at least twice until 2030.  Monitoring, accountability and review of the upcoming financing for development conference should feed into the Forum.  The Forum should ensure progress was reviewed holistically on the basis of integrated assessments.  It could also play a role with respect to global commitments.  It must be inclusive and “inviting”, he said, underlining the modalities for civil society and stakeholder engagement in its founding resolution.  It also should draw on scientifically credible, evidence-based reports, including the Global Sustainable Development Report.

SANA MABONEZA (Rwanda), speaking for the African Group, said the Forum’s role in reviewing the implementation of the outcomes of major United Nations conferences would be crucial to the post-2015 agenda.  The Forum would provide political leadership and enhance the integration of sustainable development’s three dimensions.  It must discuss how to fulfil its mandate by addressing its current “authority deficit” and providing space for laying out the principles for follow up and review at the global level.  Specifically, global follow-up and review should be universal in scope and owned by each country.  It must be Government-led and voluntary, assessing the technology facilitation mechanism and fostering positive mutual cooperation based on long-term incentives, such as sharing lessons learned.  It must also strengthen international commitments, and a differentiated approach should underpin such work to ensure focus on the means of implementation provided for the attainment of the sustainable development goals.  Follow-up and review of the goals at the national level should be determined by national Governments.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and aligning with the Group of 77 and China, said that the Forum — which replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development — should devote adequate time to discuss the sustainable development challenges facing small island developing States.  It should consider the special challenges faced by those States, as well as the urgent solutions required to address them.  The Forum must not become a “talk shop” or a platform to “name and shame” countries, but one that would provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development and ensure the appropriate consideration of new and emerging sustainable development challenges.  The Forum must be focused on translating discussions into action, policy impact and implementation through the United Nations system.  It must also ensure a greater focus on capacity-building to ensure that countries had the adequate policy space and support to effectively participate and report on their development targets.  Finally, he said, coherence did not mean that “one size fits all”; the design of the review and follow-up should take into account the practical concerns of countries such as small island developing States.

ROHAN PERERA (Sri Lanka), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 15”, a group of 17 developing countries that supported mutually beneficial cooperation for the realization of development and economic progress, said the “extensive” dialogue in the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals marked a “progressive” step that had been missing in the formulation of the Millennium Development Goals.  It was crucial to ensure an enabling environment so developing countries had the policy space, funding and technical know-how to achieve sustainable development.  Fulfilling official development assistance (ODA) pledges and improving global economic governance would be pivotal.  Financing for development should be independent and complementary to the means of implementation agreed as part of the sustainable development goals, with a technology facilitation mechanism at the core of the implementation means.  An inclusive follow-up and review process was also essential and its discussion must be premised on the principle of national sovereignty.

MAHE U.S. TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States and aligning with the Alliance of Small Island States, said the Forum should devote adequate time to consider small island developing States.  He stressed the need to create synergies with the Forum in formulating the partnerships framework called for in the Samoa Pathway.  It was an appropriate forum for following up on existing partnerships.  In shaping the follow-up and review mechanism, national ownership was essential and he underscored an important role for regional commissions and other regional and sub-regional bodies in that process.  He welcomed efforts to ensure that the United Nations was “fit for purpose” to support States in implementing the post-2015 agenda, stressing that the Forum offered space for assessing progress in seeking guidance on implementation.  Keen attention should be given promoting synergies among various processes, he said, adding that the “special case” for small island developing States extended to limitations in data and statistics collection.

ALAN KELLY, Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government of Ireland, aligning with the European Union, described the September summit on the sustainable development goals as a milestone in defining humanity’s relationship to Earth.  As a major agriculture and food production economy, Ireland was already addressing sustainability issues in those sectors, he said, and expressed hope that the Forum would be a platform for sharing of experiences and best practices.  An effective review process should be not to “name and shame”, but to provide solutions.  High-level political engagement based on an action-oriented agenda was key to success through broad participation and consultation.  There would be setbacks along the way, which the Forum must strive to address.

NICO KOUYIALIS, Minister for Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, said the promotion of a sustainable development agenda required a global, regional and national frameworks on review and monitoring.  A more credible system was needed to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development.  Progress in the implementation of goals and targets must be measured against robust indicators that reflected comparability among economies and States.  The Global Sustainability Report should strengthen the science-policy interface through universal, evidence-based and transparent foundations, and provide the basis for political action.  Accessible and user-friendly data were critical to ensuring that no one was left behind, he said, stressing the need for capacity-building in that area.  The accountability system should be guided by national ownership and space should be created for people to participate in policy choices that affected them.

FAEEQA BINT SAEED AL SALEH, Minister for Social Development of Bahrain, said her country’s national report on the Millennium Development Goals reflected the outcome of policies and programmes based on a long-term vision of the Government.  The country recently hosted a high-level regional forum on sustainable development that focused key areas of priorities, including the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals, means of implementation and capacity-building.  The outcome document contained specific recommendations based on common but differentiated responsibility and the need to end the Israeli occupation of Arab territory in order to promote sustainable development.  The world’s aspirations for sustainable development had no limits despite the many existing challenges.

GRAȚIELA LEOCADIA GAVRILESCU, Minister for Environment of Romania, aligning with the European Union, said that unsustainable consumption and production patterns could lead to widening social inequalities.  Therefore, there was a need for collective action on universal challenges.  The implementation of the post-2015 agenda would imply many changes, including greater accountability based on clearly defined duties and performance standards.  The Forum would have a central role in implementing the agenda in a participatory framework that captured all aspects of sustainable development.  Individual countries should present voluntary reviews and lessons learned through multistakeholder participation, which would help coordination of sustainable development policies across the board.  Romania considered integrated decision-making and policy coherence of utmost importance, which would drive its national endeavours.

RICARDO CARDONA, Minister for Social Development of Honduras, said that since 2000, extreme poverty in his country had fallen from 46 per cent to 39.7 per cent.  Thanks to social protection programmes, poverty among participating families had dropped by 3 percentage points as compared to other families that had not taken part.  Honduras also had reduced child malnutrition, while child vaccination coverage had improved for tuberculosis, measles and whooping cough.  An aggressive $1.2 million social inclusion programme had been designed to help 400 families in extreme poverty.  It aimed to reduce poverty by 20 per cent.  The President’s “Better Life for Everyone” programme promoted economic growth and fairness by providing opportunities for financially secure work.  Honduras also had studied the Sustainable Development Goals.

BIBIANE OUEDRAOGO BONI, Minister for the Advancement of Women and Gender of Burkina Faso, said the transitional Government was working to raise life expectancy through social measures for vulnerable persons, job creation for youth and women, microfinancing, and the construction of schools and health centres.  She hoped the post-2015 agenda and the third International Conference on Financing for Development would set out the basis for inclusive, equitable economic growth.  As access to technology and innovation was unequally shared, a technology-sharing mechanism would help countries strengthen their capacity, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.  She also urged a focus on investment in science and technology.

GENNADY M. GATILOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities was the basis for cooperation to achieve the sustainable development goals.  The “Rio+20” arrangements should be followed without liberally interpreting the concept of sustainable development.  He cautioned against politicized discussions and imposing concepts or standards that did not enjoy broad support or were not endorsed by intergovernmental processes under the United Nations’ aegis.  Efforts to implement the new agenda would be underpinned by decisions taken at the third International Conference on Financing for Development, where the focus should be on trade and investment cooperation, the international financial architecture and stimulating the spread of environmentally safe technologies.  Countries could not be forced to take part in reviews.  Nor could review mechanisms be used to compile ratings, he said, stressing that United Nations regional commissions would review progress.

SILVIA VELO, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, associating with the European Union, said leadership, ambition and an effective structure were required to guide the transition towards sustainable development.  Such work would require the Forum to operate at its peak as the primary body for monitoring, accountability and review of the post-2015 agenda.  Its modalities must incorporate the entire United Nations system, building on the Council’s integrated segment and the Development Cooperation Forum, work that required further discussion.  She supported efforts by the scientific community to move from fragmentation to multi-disciplined work.  Italy was working to enhance cooperation with Pacific small island developing States under the partnership environmental programme, and in October, would organize a ministerial meeting to assess progress since the 2014 Samoa Conference.

MARTIN TLAPA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, aligning with the European Union, said effective monitoring and review were key to the success of the implementation of the sustainable development goals.  At the global level, there should be single framework that would monitor both the achieving the goals and means of implementation.  The Forum was in a unique position to balance the three pillars of sustainable development on an equal footing and must be complementary to other bodies.  If elected to the Council, the Czech Republic would do its utmost to make the Forum play an essential role in the architecture of the post-2015 agenda.  Reports from individual countries, regional commissions, scientific bodies, as well as intergovernmental organizations, should be taken into account.  However, overburdening the Forum by duplicating tasks must be avoided.  The review process should be undertaken in the spirit of a new global partnership.

JOŠKO KLISOVIĆ, Deputy Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said the Forum was central to coordinating work on making the world a better place for all.  That would pose complex challenges and new opportunities, which would require a new framework for implementation.  The Forum under the aegis of the Council provided a useful annual platform to deliberate upon targets and implementation modes, while the quadrennial meeting under the Assembly would be instrumental to build sustained high-level political commitment.  Citing rule of law as the fourth pillar of sustainable development, he said all segments of society must be included in decision-making process, which would help attain citizen-oriented governance.  Croatia had been implemented serious and forward-looking policies aimed at inclusion, transparency and accountability.  A human-rights-based approach to the future was a prerequisite to sustainable development, he said, stressing the need to pay special attention to vulnerable and marginalized segments of the population.

ENDAH MURNININGTYAS, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of National Development Planning of Indonesia, associating with the Group of 77 and China, said the post-2015 development agenda held the promise of making the world just and prosperous.  To that end, a multi-level follow-up review process anchored in strong national ownership was required, she said, underlining her country’s efforts at placing sustainable development as part of the national strategy.  That strategy took into account not only growth, but also a balance among the various dimensions of development.  The United Nations regional commissions should be strengthened to exchange lessons learned while the Forum should be universal, intergovernmental and robust enough to integrate sustainable development across different levels.  Governments would require renewed partnership with relevant stakeholders on means of implementation of the transformative agenda, including financing, technology transfer and trade facilitation.

RIIKKA LAATU, Deputy Director-General, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, said an accountability and review mechanism was needed to learn from success and failures alike.  While the Forum was the main body for the follow-up to the post-2015 agenda, it was still being formed.  Now was the time to discuss and develop guidelines for its future work.  Next year, the Forum should be “ready for action” as the apex of the global review.  Indeed, it should quickly claim its place in the monitoring, accountability and review system, she said, noting that the 2016 session should invite States to introduce their implementation plans and describe how they were integrating the goals into national policies.  Also, the Global Sustainable Development Report should be produced every four years.  The participation of all stakeholders was crucial, and the views of both civil society and the private sector must be taken into account.  The Forum should have adequate resources to both hold annual sessions, and process issues related to the new agenda’s implementation between formal sessions, within budgetary resources.

MARGUS SARAPUU, Head of Delegation and Director, Strategy Unit, Government Office of Estonia, associating with the European Union, said the sustainable development goals were based on the successes and shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals.  Among the “critical factors” to be addressed was agreement on a monitoring, accountability and review mechanism for implementing the new goals, work that should be based on national ownership and leadership.  Such a mechanism should be inclusive and based on reliable data.  As the main platform for that purpose, the Forum should be a space for informing on advancements and sharing best practices and challenges.  It should increase cross-sectoral integration among the dimensions of sustainable development at all levels.  The follow-up to the third International Conference on Financing for Development should be given appropriate consideration.  The Forum should avoid redundancy by using existing mechanisms, conserving resources and relying on the Council and its subsidiary bodies.

PORNPRAPAI GANJANARINTR, Director-General, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, said each country must assess how it had achieved the Millennium Development Goals, as lessons learned would be invaluable to the success of the new agenda.  Economic pursuits must not be at the expense of the environment.  A people-centred approach was the way forward.  In managing the transition to the sustainable development goals, collective efforts and integrated policies at national, regional and global levels were needed to respond to the cross-cutting nature of the goals.  Thailand’s National Committee for Sustainable Development, chaired by the Prime Minister, would ensure a “whole of Government and society” approach.  More global cooperation was needed and Thailand was ready to step up its responsibility in that regard.  As integration required the United Nations to shift between specialization and integration, its development system would need to adapt to that work.

PIO WENNUBST, Assistant Director-General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, said the new agenda marked two paradigm shifts:  it was universal and combined both poverty eradication and sustainable development in an integrated manner.  It would not be enough to consider the goals individually.  Rather, States must consider the policy coherence, synergies and trade-offs among them.  Monitoring, follow-up and review must engage all countries and stakeholders, and at the global level, the Forum’s focal point role was crucial.  Its thematic reviews should reflect the integrated nature of the sustainable development goals.  In the first four-year review cycle, Governments should outline how they had translated the goals at the national level.  The Forum’s next meeting should be held under the auspices of the Assembly in 2019 and align with the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review cycle.  He expected a more predictable, inclusive and transparent preparatory process and the Forum needed a road map outlining milestones to meet to carry out successful follow-up and review.

Panel II

The afternoon’s panel discussion, titled “Our High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in the next 15 years”, was chaired by Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council with a keynote address by Oyun Sanjaasuren, Minister for Environment and Green Development of Mongolia and President of the United Nations Environment Assembly at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The panel featured Tun Tun Naing, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development of Myanmar; M. Riaz Hamidullah, Director-General of Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh; and Silvana Koch-Mehrin, Founder and Chair of Women in Parliaments Global Forum in Belgium and former Member of the European Parliament.  Lead discussants were Pio Wennubst, Assistant Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation in the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs; Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General for Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships, United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women); Daniel Lang, Head of Worldwide Customer Relations of the Sutherland Global Services, Inc., New York; and Naiara Garcia da Costa Chaves, Advocacy Director of Beyond 2015, New York.

The 384-paragraph discussion paper before the panel contained written contributions of the following major groups and stakeholders:  women; children and youth; non-governmental organizations; local authorities; business and industry; scientific and technological community; persons with disabilities; volunteer groups; stakeholder group on ageing; and the Asia-Pacific Regional CSO Engagement Mechanism.  The groups had autonomously established and maintained effective coordination mechanisms for participation in the Forum on Sustainable Development, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/290, on the theme of the Forum, “Strengthening integration, implementation and review:  the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development after 2015”.

Opening the discussion, Mr. OH outlined the Council’s efforts to date with regard to the post-2015 development agenda.  He underlined that there was broad agreement that the Forum needed to follow up on the Samoa Pathway, strengthen the science-policy interface, discuss emerging issues and sustainable consumption and production, and that regional discussions were critical.  There was also a need to build on the United Nations system’s work.

Beyond that broad agreement, he said further guidance and discussion among delegates was needed with regard to, among other things, how the Forum could be most useful to boost implementation of the goals, the focus of future sessions and how to build on lessons learned.  He also asked if there was a need for a Forum scientific advisory board.  Divisive issues should also be addressed, he said, asking whether there was a need for a multistakeholder advisory body to advise the Council President and if delegates were satisfied with the current approach to outcomes of the sessions.

Delivering the keynote address, Ms. SANJAASUREN said if the Forum was to effectively deliver on its functions to follow up and review the new goals’ implementation, it must consolidate synergies with other intergovernmental bodies and tap into its potential to be responsive from an integrated perspective to emerging issues and challenges those bodies identified.  It must also create linkages, communicate effectively and foster partnerships with multiple stakeholders.  The United Nations Environment Assembly would be an invaluable partner, she said, with its functions including the promotion of a strong science-policy interface with bodies such as the International Panel on Climate Change.  Pointing to the issue of the illegal wildlife trade, she said those and other such multifaceted challenges required urgent action, falling across different organizations’ mandates.  As such, the Forum should call political attention to the multiple dimensions of global problems and the need for corresponding action.  It should also add value by championing issues that would fall by the wayside because they fell outside the mandates of a specific organization.  In closing, she invited delegates to the Environment Assembly’s second session to be held in Nairobi from 23 to 27 May 2016.

Mr. NAING said the broad goals and indicators made it incumbent upon Member States to ensure the inclusion of all voices, including at the country level.  Partnerships must involve relevant institutions, countries and their people.  Poverty eradication, education, health, growth and migrant issues were among the endeavours that required unprecedented levels of commitment by developed and developing States alike.  Success would begin and end at the country level.  Going further, attention must be paid on how the new goals would be monitored.  Review of the goals must be through a country-led process.  In Myanmar, development partners and the Government worked together in that regard.  Timely, quality and comprehensive data was also essential.  It would be a missed opportunity to go forward in pursuing the goals without supporting each and every country in their monitoring efforts.  In all efforts coordination was key.

Mr. HAMIDULLAH said that, at a time when new actors, patterns of engagement and partnerships were being developed, it was critical to examine various arenas where the new goals would be implemented.  At the national level, a public-good approach would help the political leadership to “own” the new goals in a way that overcame “turf” and “silos” barriers, he said, pointing out that early childhood education and nutrition were sectors that were innately intertwined.  The way forward would not be a one-size-fits-all approach for all countries. Lessons learned from countries such as Brazil and Viet Nam were noteworthy.  At the sub-national level, there was a need to look deeper to gain a better understanding of local government roles and areas of responsibility.  The Forum should remain to be a platform for all voices and to rise above the sector mindset.  It should be a place for dialogue for all stakeholders, where mutual trust and respect reigned, and useful ideas were shared.

Ms. KOCH-MEHRIN said that involving parliamentarians in the process of implementing the post-2015 agenda was important.  At a meeting in early 2015, where 600 representatives were invited to discuss the new goals, only 30 had been present.  That should not happen, she said, emphasizing that, if citizens demanded answers, then their elected officials’ engagement would be strengthen.  That notion should be kept in mind as the post-2015 era began.  The goals must matter to parliamentarians in a national context.  She recommended a number of actions to bring the new goals into a national context, which included involving parliamentarians at an earlier stage of discussions.  She also suggested getting out of the development niche within Foreign Ministries and bringing it into domestic sectors, such as education and health.  Some parliaments had advisory committees on cross-cutting issues and share lessons learned with other States.  In addition, involving female parliamentarians was essential as they could only “win” with the new goals.

Initiating the interactive discussion, Mr. WENNUBST said that, when the Forum next met under the auspices of the Assembly in 2019, certain milestones must be met, including an inclusive and transparent process to prepare upcoming meetings, leaving space for new and emerging issues.  In addition, country and thematic reports should be key components of the Forum meetings leading up to 2019 and the 2016 meeting should, among other things, allow for sharing experiences and lessons learned, discuss guidelines to help countries to report on progress, include a dialogue on the indicator framework presented by the United Nations Statistical Commission and allow for a thematic review discussion.  Inclusion of all stakeholders was also important, providing real opportunity to modernize the way that the United Nations should work with non-State actors in its deliberations.

Ms. PURI said she expressed hope that the adoption of the new goals, including on gender equality, would be cause to celebrate.  It was, however, critical to follow through and follow up on efforts to deliver on commitments.  Since gender equality and women’s empowerment were essential for the achievement of sustainable development, national and thematic reviews must integrate those issues and must apply to the Forum.  The follow-up and review activities must be aligned to global standards, she said, pointing to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and other critical instruments.  With regard to disaggregated data, horizontal and vertical links and other relevant considerations, a silo approach must be eliminated.  Gender issues were cross-cutting.  The Forum must insist and send a strong message to the United Nations system of its responsibility to address gender perspectives and issues in the “pyramid” of reporting and follow up that was being designed for the new goals.

From a private-sector perspective, Mr. LANG said the sourcing market had seen growth over the last decade to the current $100 billion in annual revenues.  In the next five years, countries and companies must be able to prove that they had a sustainable growth strategy.  That included respect for human rights standards, especially gender equality and anti-corruption policies, a commitment to social development, such as building schools, and an environmental element.  Those three pillars were in play in the business world.  In going forward, he said that the United Nations could, in its unique position, guide and shape best practices in the private sector.

Ms. CHAVES said as her organization worked with more than 1,000 groups worldwide, it was of critical importance that civil society was included.  In the next 15 years, the Forum should be consolidated as the place to forge partnerships in that regard.  The body, however, was not well known outside New York.  In that sense, communication efforts must be bolstered to ensure broad knowledge of the Forum and its mandate.  The Forum must also strengthen political will and foster participation.  She suggested thematic working groups led by Member States should be created to advance discussions.  It should also have its own secretariat and should create mechanisms to collect data and reports from States.

During the ensuing dialogue, speakers shared their lessons learned, ongoing efforts and suggestions to strengthen the Forum’s impact with regard to the new goals.

The representative of Azerbaijan described current initiatives, among them the inclusion of youth in national affairs.  He suggested a special gathering with the Forum’s sessions specifically geared towards young people.

South Africa’s delegate explained her country’s perspective on the Forum’s work over the coming 15 years.  Going forward, the Forum should, among other things, embrace a Member State-driven agenda and highlight cross-cutting issues.

The delegate of Peru, speaking for Egypt, Liechtenstein, Norway, Pakistan, Republic of Korea and Switzerland, said it was crucial to come up with a road map for the key milestones of the Forum in the implementation of the post-2015 agenda up until 2030.  Of particular importance was drafting a road map from 2015 to 2019, based on promoting the sharing of best practices and national plans and regional frameworks.

The speaker from the major group on children and youth said that, during the review process, direct input on progress should come from major groups and stakeholders, as they were the ones that the goals targeted.

The representative of Maldives, speaking for the Alliance of Small Island States, said the Forum had a key role in advancing the development agenda.  It should, among other things, provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations.  The Forum must learn from experiences of the Commission on Sustainable Development and must leave no one behind.

Canada’s speaker said the Forum should be a place where leaders from all regions and international experts took stock of global successes and challenges.  He then made a number of suggestions, including that innovation fairs and match-making marketplaces should be held alongside the Forum to allow stakeholders to showcase their work and build partnerships.

The representative of the major group on women said a key area of concern was the indicator framework, which should be robust.  There was an urgent need for capacity-building mechanisms to strengthen data collection and gender expertise.  Civil society must have access to the indicator discussions, she said, pointing out the important role civil society had in data collection.  New indicators were needed to measure factors that would bring about the most change.

Panellists them addressed some of the questions raised and made statements on a range of topics.  Mr. HAMIDULLAH said it was important to reflect on the long-term position of the United Nations development system and that the Forum would continue to benefit from bold, fresh ideas.

Mr. NAING said collecting statistics was crucial to measure how the new agenda’s implementation could be achieved.  As such, capacity-building was needed in that regard to set up effective data collection systems.

Ms. KOCH-MEHRIN reiterated that involving parliamentarians meant making the issues of the new goals local, such as drawing attention to those issues by giving an award to a farmer who bred his cows in a sustainable way.  That was the challenge, she said.

Also taking part in the discussion were the representatives of Mexico and Belgium.

For information media. Not an official record.