On February 10, 2020, the United Nations General Assembly started a process to review the format and organisational aspects of the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). This review process presents a timely window of opportunity to reposition the HLPF towards the true implementation of its mandate playing a central role in the international governance of sustainable development. This Policy Brief presents three ideas to improve the HLPF.

Key Messages

  • The presentation of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) is a centerpiece of the HLPF and the number of countries willing to submit to the exercise is encouraging. However, several improvements could be made to reinforce accountability and increase the chances that this exercise actually helps driving additional national action, such as giving a peer reviewing role to civil society experts and other countries.
  • Thematic and SDG reviews have been another central part of the HLPFs so far. The added value of these very general discussions with no actionable outcomes is limited. Instead, the HLPF could become the forum where intergovernmental organisations ask for dialogues on variables that lie beyond their mandate but that affect their respected area with the concerned entities. The HLPF could also take the initiative by organising such cross-sectoral dialogues around the transformations identified by the Global Sustainable Development Report.
  • Dialogues will not be enough in the Decade of Action and Delivery. Therefore, the HLPF should also invite intergovernmental bodies to collaborate around cross-sectoral action plans in order to overcome obstacles in implementation that are due to the limited mandates of individual bodies and conventions. As an example, the HLPF is well positioned to address socio-economic issues and could invite the Convention on Biological Diversity and relevant other intergovernmental bodies to present joint multi-annual action plans, starting with two joint action plans on infrastructure and agriculture. Once these action plans adopted, the HLPF should then provide the space for following up on the progress made. Similar action plans could be launched for other off-track SDGs.

> Watch IDDRI's video on the HLPF with Elisabeth Hege, Research Fellow Sustainable Development Governance and Financing

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