The HLPF 2024 is called to connect narratives and actions to rebuild trust in multilateralism

July 3, 2024

On July 2, sustainable development experts gathered in a virtual event organized by IISD and Cepei to discuss the key issues, opportunities, and challenges of the 2024 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which will take place from 8-19 July.

Participants in the discussion included H.E. Paula Narváez, President of ECOSOC, Florence Syevuo, Executive Director of the SDG Kenya Forum and Co-Chair of the Coalition for the UN We Need, Friedrich Soltau, Senior Sustainable Development Officer at UNDESA, Lynn Wagner, Senior Director Tracking Progres at IISD and Philipp Schönrock, Executive Director of Cepei.

The HLPF brings countries together annually at the United Nations headquarters in New York to report on their successes and challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda through Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). This year, six countries from Latin America and the Caribbean will present their VNRs: Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil. In addition, the event’s central theme will be “Strengthening the 2030 Agenda and eradicating poverty in times of multiple crises: effectively delivering sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions”.

On the relevance of the reviews, Paula Narváez, President of ECOSOC, said: “This year’s VNRs will show us innovative solutions on how to overcome today’s challenges. These documents are more than reviews and show that, despite the odds, progress is achievable for all countries when we join forces and work collaboratively”.

The HLPF, among other things, is key because its outcomes will form the basis for the Summit of the Future, to be held in September. “The central challenge in building on both events is connecting the dots between the processes. We need joint narratives, but also joint actions. The confidence of the system of multilateralism lies in the ability of states to deliver on promises in these kinds of spaces. That connection is fundamental,” said Narváez.

Including all parties, a latent challenge

This year, five SDGs will be under thematic review:

  • SDG 1: No poverty
  • SDG 2: Zero hunger
  • SDG 13: Climate action
  • SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
  • SDG 17: Partnerships to Achieve the Goals

However, Lynn Wagner pointed out that they are all interconnected in many ways with the other goals and that it will be key to approach them from this perspective in order to achieve the change that the development agenda needs. “The secretary-general’s annual progress report on the SDGs found many challenges that need to be addressed, including 23 million new people living in poverty compared to 2022 and 2019, for example.

Another challenge for the HLPF will be to bring together as many actors as possible and connect their positions on a common pathway to accelerate sustainable development. “The HLPF is the central space where the SDGs are scrutinized not only by governments but by all stakeholders. From the construction of the VNR, groups that are not normally part of public policy processes should be included. Some countries have been successful in this, but much remains to be done,” said Friedrich Soltau.

One of the critical actors in this process is civil society. On the subject, Florence Syevuo said: “The HLPF represents an opportunity for civil society to make its contribution to ensure real action, because it must listen, but also share what it expects from the reports, what problems there are and how we can find global solidarity at the local level.

Despite the challenges presented by the forum, Lynn Wagner said, “The Secretary-General’s annual progress report on the SDGs shows some progress in the health sector and increased access to water and energy. The challenge is to build on this progress to accelerate progress in other areas.

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