• Caterina Sullivan

High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Recap 2021


A couple of weeks ago, the 2021 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) concluded after 24 meetings, 42 voluntary national reviews and the attendance of over 170 politicians. This year, the high-level political forum yet again saw a hybrid meeting arrangement with many countries around the world still suffering at the hands of the COVID-19 pandemic.


One of the centre pieces of the forum was the Ministerial Declaration, entitled “Sustainable And Resilient Recovery From The Covid-19 Pandemic That Promotes the Economic, Social and Environmental Dimensions of Sustainable Development”.


This document provides a road map to recovery after the global pandemic and how we can work together to ensure the Global Goals for Sustainable Development are achieved, despite the setbacks due to COVID-19. After suggested changes on gender, climate change and biodiversity proposed by Russia as well as Israel's suggestion that the paragraph on the right to self-determination of those living under colonial and foreign occupation be deleted, the declaration was adopted by the attendees of the forum.


A call was made for the 2030 Agenda to be used alongside the Addis Ababa Action Agenda as the guiding document for the COVID-19 global recovery. It was argued that the Global Goals have not become less relevant due to the pandemic. In fact, they have become more relevant as we face further uncertainty and a longer uphill battle when it comes to poverty, inequalities and climate change.


Poverty remained at the forefront of the discussion at the High Level Political Forum with projections for the global poverty rate to reach 7% by 2030 instead of the target of 3%. This went hand in hand with the discussion on ensuring a sustainable supply of quality and affordable food to those who are most vulnerable. This discussion led into a broader discussion on sustainable agricultural systems and the economic and social empowerment of small-scale farmers and food producers who are currently responsible for somewhere between 30 and 70% of global food production.


There was an important discussion about the need for equitable access to vaccines, especially through lessening trade restrictions and working with least developed countries to ensure their populations are not being left behind in the COVID-19 recovery plan.


Gender equality was raised, as it was last year, as another greater struggle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen women and children disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and must do all we can to ensure their voices are heard and they are supported through this recovery period.


According to speakers at the HLPF, one of the main lessons we have learnt from COVID-19 is the incredible necessity a strong and consistent internet connection plays in the lives of many throughout the world. The need to increase our access to the internet worldwide is at the top of the priority list to ensure that people can continue to work and receive and education in the face of economic, social and environmental disasters.


Technology was raised again as being an important component in the fight against climate change. It is through the use of technology that many speakers have suggested we will see the greatest achievement towards the mitigation of climate change and the safeguarding of our natural environment.


The importance of partnerships and local action was also raised at the HLPF. Local governments and communities were encouraged to take action towards the achievement of the Global Goals as at least a third of the targets in a global context need to be achieved at a local level. In Australia, our local governments are responsible for a number of services and, therefore, we see the need for local government participation to have an even higher level of involvement.


The 21 targets with a 2020 deadline were discussed as arguably, none of them have been achieved. Some delegates wanted to extend the timeline for these targets, but it was eventually decided the Agenda is too delicate to be reopened and for now, the 2020 targets will just be monitored towards their eventual achievement.


We will be covering the Ministerial Declaration in depth in our next article. In our following article, we will speak about the Voluntary National Reviews that took place at the HLPF. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us via our contact form or via our social media channels, and we will do our best to cover any questions you have in future articles!