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HLPF 2019: Sobering News about the SDGs

Between July 9th and 18th 2019, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development took place at UN Headquarters, New York. The aim was to review the progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular on SDG 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) and 17 (partnerships for the goals). Additionally, 47 UN Member States reported on their individual progress in implementing the SDGs. Seven did so for the second time.

However, not only the national level presented the progress, or rather the lack thereof. During the Voluntary Local Review, 13 cities (amongst them New York presenting for the second time and Ibarra, Ecuador) offered an overview of the implementation of the SDGs on a local level. By doing so, they not only underlined the importance of involving stakeholders from the cities, but also the need for the local level to contribute to the achievement of the global agenda.

Not enough progress

In general, the outcome of the HLPF can only be described as sobering. The situtation of all SDGs is either declining or stagnating. Even though the Member States committed to the implementation of the Goals, the response was and is not ambitious enough. If the Member States will continue implementing at the current pace, it will not be possible to reach the Goals by 2030. Therefore, UN Secretary General António Guterres, who offered his reflection, called for a drastic increase in both public and private investments in order to fulfill the aims of the 2030 Agenda.

Looking at the reviewed SDGs individually, the impression of a lack of substantial progress repeats. SDG 4 is experiencing a “global crisis”. Progress in implementing SDG 8 is slow and uneven. Income inequality is on the rise and fulfilling SDG 10 is receding into the distance. While the topic of climate change has received more and more attention over the past months, this does not yet reflect in action. On the contrary, climate change in progressing even faster than expected, making an implementation of SDG 13 all the more necessary. There was no substantial progress on SDG 16. A similarly dire picture paints when looking at SDG 17. Instead of increasing national spending, official development assistance went down by 2,7% in 2018 compared to 2017.

The discussions on the implementation of the SDGs will continue during the UN General Assembly in September 2019.

For more information on the main takeaways from the HLPF in July, please click here.

Our partner UCLG was on site too. For more information, click here.

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