UN-ECOSOC High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development opens with focus on Ways to End Poverty, Gender Inequality, and Structural Barriers

The Economic and Social Council’s High-Level Political Forum tasked with reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development opened its second annual session today, with participants welcomed its focus on particular goals and targets, as well as its central theme of poverty eradication and the promotion of prosperity “in our changing world”.

It is the first time the Forum would discuss in-depth a particular set of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The deliberations would also include national presentations from 44 countries and discussions about poverty eradication through the lens of addressing its multiple dimensions, especially in countries in special situations.  In addition, there would be keynote presentations from a range of speakers focusing on “where we are” in year two of the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.

The current session was the second since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. It was also the first session of the High-Level Political Forum that would discuss in-depth a set of Sustainable Development Goals — namely, Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 — alongside Goal 17 on partnerships.   In addition, the session’s theme, “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, was particularly pertinent as poverty remained “one of the greatest challenges of our time.”

Frederick Musiiwa Shava  (Zimbabwe), President of Economic and Social Council cited the high expectations from this global institution and underlined that the 2017 theme would be discussed through the lens of ways in which the multiple dimensions of poverty and inequality were being addressed in countries in special situations. He underlined the importance of linking the planned presentations of 44 countries with the 2030 Agenda’s integrated nature.

The Keynote speaker Robert Johnson, President of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, described the Sustainable Development Goals as “an important navigation system” that would help drive the international community as it pursued a sustainable future.  Pointing to the emergence of “dangerous discontents” resulting from the global economic system’s lack of sensitivity to people’s needs — especially in less-advanced economies — he said such challenges were not inevitable as those systems were entirely human-made and could still be corrected.  He also spotlighted several priority issues to be addressed going forward, including those related to gender inequality, the health of the world’s oceans and the production and pricing of new forms of energy.

Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Vice-Chair of the UN Committee for Development Policy stressed in her address that a holistic approach would be critical to reviewing progress on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation.  While that agenda had created a new paradigm of development and a new theory of change, its current set of indicators — laid out in a framework adopted last week by the General Assembly — was still a work in progress.  Cautioning that many of the present indicators only partially reflected targets or goals and were sometimes too narrowly focused, she also drew attention to several similar criticisms from non‑governmental organizations and other members of civil society.

Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced a report of the Secretary-General detailing progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  He told the Forum, noting that while nearly 1 billion people around the world had escaped extreme poverty since 1999, over 760 million had still lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2013.  Among other challenges, gender inequality persisted worldwide and while maternal mortality had declined, that progress must be doubled to achieve the relevant global targets by 2030.

Participants also held two panel discussions today, addressing the themes, “implementation at the regional and subregional levels” and “eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world”, respectively

( From PPD Permanent Observer at the UN, New York, 10 July , 2017 )

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