At the HLPF 2017, governments should clearly report on how they are implementing their integrated promises and commitments; mainstreaming the SDGs into their national plans and budgets and working towards eradicating poverty and hunger everywhere, realizing human rights, ensuring fair and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems, and combating inequalities well before 2030. Furthermore, governments must share how they are generating effective and inclusive institutions for SDG delivery. At the HLPF, members states should focus on four main themes: 1) Poverty eradication that leaves no one behind; 2) Prosperity shared in a people-centered economy; 3) A planet that is protected; and (4) Institutions at all levels that are participatory, transparent and accountable. Approaches to poverty alleviation shared at the HLPF must include concrete budgeted policies that promote women’s rights and gender equality, children’s rights, overcoming barriers for the inclusion of persons with disabilities, migrants, minority ethnic groups, young and older persons and others.
The HLPF needs to proactively build on existing mechanisms and functional bodies to deliver on its mandate of policy coherence, particularly on thematic issues. The HLPF is an opportunity to (i) assess gaps in existing mechanisms and identify which population groups are not properly reviewed vis-a-vis SDG progress and (ii) define proper mechanisms to overcome such gaps. With regards to the Voluntary National Reviews, we expect presentations to clearly: (i) outline how inclusive the national process has been at country level; (ii) address comprehensive, coherent implementation of the 2030 Agenda and (iii) explain how the accountability framework surrounding VNRs will be progressively strengthened. Preparatory events around thematic reviews should be supported and rest on contributions by all stakeholders.
VNR countries should state when they plan to volunteer again and an accountability cycle should be continually in place until 2030, providing regular and predictable spaces for interaction, review and participation.
Governments should report on the creation of clear, open, coherent, transparent and regular spaces for the participation of stakeholders in the planning, implementation and accountability of the 2030 Agenda at all levels. Any country that leaves the most marginalized, vulnerable and disadvantaged ‘outside the door’ of their national discussions cannot be said to ‘leave no one behind’.
So far, civil society experiences of participation vary and, in several countries, efforts to include civil society still appear to be tokenistic or there is still a perception that government officials are uncomfortable with building working relationships with civil society.
Funding continues to be a major barrier for the participation of civil society together with lack of capacity to understand the Goals and their interlinkages. Efforts should also be undertaken at all levels to engage stakeholders beyond the “usual suspects” and consultation has to be cross-sectoral and country-wide, not restricted to capitals and other centers of power.
In some developed countries, it has been a challenge to engage domestic stakeholders beyond environmental and development-focused NGO. Engaging subnational government bodies is still a challenge, due to unawareness or the perception of the SDGs as an “external agenda”.
Paragraph 89 of the 2030 Agenda calls on major groups and other relevant stakeholders to report on their contribution to the implementation of the Agenda and this is still a missing piece of the global follow up and review architecture. UN Member States and the President of ECOSOC should establish clear and meaningful mechanisms – beyond online platforms - to collect, publicize and analyze reports on the contribution of civil society and stakeholders to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at all levels. Finally, the HLPF ministerial declaration should encourage governments to partner with civil society and stakeholders in developing capacity building and awareness programs on the 2030 Agenda.