HLPF Review: Process, Positions, Politics & Practicable Reform Options

Researching the reform debate on the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

In September 2015, UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. For this, delegations come together every year in July for eight days under the auspices of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), as well as every four years in September for two additional days under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.

While, in general, the HLPF is considered to be a success, there is room for improvement. Preparatory processes for the annual Themtic and SDG Reviews, for example, are insufficient for a systematic in-depth review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), presented by national delegations during the ministerial segment of the July HLPF, have created political momentum: Since 2016 168 UN member states have presented their VNRs at the HLPF at least once. However, the quality of the VNRs varies, and the underlying national and local review mechanisms could be enhanced. Moreover, the consequences of reporting at the HLPF are unclear, which raises questions about the relevance of the reviews. The ministerial declaration adopted each year at the HLPF has not been an effective tool for providing the mandated “political leadership, guidance and recommendations”. And there is also no effective follow-up of if after the Forum has taken place.

In 2016, in General Assembly Resolution 70/299, UN member states decided to review the format and organizational aspects of the HLPF after the completion of its first four-year cycle, building upon lessons learned. Intergovernmental negotiations started in February 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, member states decided to postpone the review, agreeing oly on a short resolution (A/RES/74/298) in August 2020. The second phase of the negotiations has started on January 25th, 2021.

On the basis of empirical analyses of the current working methods of the HLPF, this research project develops and discusses reform options to give recommendations for actions. In the context of the first round of negotiations in March 2020, several reform options were presented, also graphically.


The research team also contributes to an international book project "The SDGs as a Transformative Force?" (scheduled for publication in 2022), a scholarly “SDG impact assessment”, which is coordinated by the Global Goals Project at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. The project director is co-lead author of the chapter on "Global Governance and the SDGs".

The research project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (September 2019 - October 2021).

Related links:
The UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform provides further information on the HLPF, including on the status of the ECOSOC & HLPF Reviews.

Further SWP-publications and materials are in this dossier. Aside from recent project-publications, selected older publications about reform options related to the HLPF are also listed beneath.

Literature

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Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Silke Weinlich, Imme Scholz, Lisi Maier, Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, Marianne Beisheim

We Need to Upgrade the United Nations: Towards a More Effective Sustainable Development Governance

in: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 22.03.2021 (online)
Marianne Beisheim, Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, Lisi Maier, Imme Scholz, Silke Weinlich, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul

Reform options for effective UN sustainable development governance

in: German Council for Sustainable Development, Hannah Janetschek & Marc-Oliver Pahl (Ed.), 01.03.2021 (online).
Scientific and Technological Community Major Group

Response to the zero draft of the resolution for the ECOSOC and HLPF Reviews: Scientific and Technological Community Major Group

compiled by Anda Popovici, Anne-Sophie Stevance with contributions by Marianne Beisheim, Felicitas Fritzsche, Kancheepuram N. Gunalam, William Kelly, 22.02.2021 (online).
Scientific and Technological Community Major Group

Reviews of ECOSOC and HLPF: Contribution from the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group

compiled by Anda Popovici, Anne-Sophie Stevance with contributions by Marianne Beisheim, Steven Bernstein, Felicitas Fritzsche, Kancheepuram N. Gunalam, Elisabeth Hege, William Kelly, 10.02.2021 (online).
Marianne Beisheim, Felicitas Fritzsche

Networked Multilateralism: ECOSOC and HLPF Reviews as Window of Opportunity

in: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 20.01.2021 (online)
Marianne Beisheim

Comments by Marianne Beisheim on the Future of the High-level Political Forum: Fit for Purpose?

in: Stakeholder Forum (Ed.), The Future of the High-level Political Forum: Fit for Purpose?, based on presentation given during 'Pop-up Side Event' at the 2020 HLPF - 'Lessons from the Proposal for a Sustainable Development Council for the UN General Assembly (from Rio+20) for the Future of the High-level Political Forum', 14.09.2020, pp. 22-24
Marianne Beisheim, Steven Bernstein,

The High-Level Political Forum Review 2020: An Opportunity to Fulfill the HLPF’s Mandate

in: Felix Dodds (Ed.), Governance for Sustainable Development Volume 4: Challenges and Opportunities for Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, New World Frontiers, February 2020, pp. 138-145
Marianne Beisheim, Steven Bernstein

Matching the HLPF’s Ambition to Performance: Prospects for the Review

in: International Institute for Sustainable Development, 13.02.2020 (online)
Marianne Beisheim

Reviewing the HLPF's "format and organizational aspects" - what's being discussed?

Assessing current proposals under debate

Working Paper Research Division Global Issues, 2020/01, February 2020, 19 Pages
Marianne Beisheim

UN Reforms for the 2030 Agenda

Are the HLPF’s Working Methods and Practices “Fit for Purpose”?

SWP Research Paper 2018/RP 09, October 2018, 33 Pages
Displaying results 1 to 10 out of 14
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