Last month members of the Congregations of St. Joseph NGO (CSJ UN NGO) joined 2,200 participants at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations in New York. The HLPF meets annually and is the UN’s platform to review progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda.
This year the SDGs reviewed at the HLPF reviewed were: 6 — ensure clean water and sanitation; 7 — ensure affordable and clean energy; 11 — make sustainable cities and communities; 12 — ensure responsible consumption and production; 15 — protect, restore and promote life on land; and 17 — strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (which is reviewed each year).
Part of the Forum includes the Voluntary National Reviews (VNR), where member states are evaluated on their progress toward the 2030 Agenda. These reports are drafted and submitted by the individual member states. Through this process NGOs, intergovernmental bodies and forums, and other major groups are also allowed to submit their input about a member states’ implementation of the SDGs.
Sister Sue Wilson (Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada), who attended this year’s HLPF, said that the VNRs represent not only a chance to address a nation’s “progression” but also “challenges in their implementation of the sustainable development goals.”
This year 46 countries submitted VNRs. Sister Sue said that conversations about data-collection became a central topic during this process. As many of the reports rely heavily on statistics, Sister Sue said that experts stressed “the importance of breaking down the statistics to see how various groupings are doing within the whole. This is the only way to ensure that no group is left behind.”
The HLPF also represents a chance for the UN to adopt “intergovernmentally negotiated political declarations.” This year the HLPF approved the Global Ministerial Declaration, which
- Noted that global poverty is a cause of hunger
- Recognized that nations must find accelerated avenues to accomplish the 2030 Agenda
- Commended the countries presenting VNRs
- Stressed the commitment to leave no one behind by having governments provide modes of participation in decision making for achieving SDGs and supporting the empowerment of civil society in the process
- Stated peace and security, based on just and inclusive societies, is essential to achieving the SDGs
- Said nations need to ensure universal respect for human rights
- Re-affirmed that women and girls must have full gender equality
In 2019, the HLPF theme will be “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” Several countries that the Sisters of St. Joseph serve in will be participating in the 2019 Voluntary National Reviews including: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Cote d’Ivoire, France, Ghana, New Zealand, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.