High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
The High-level Political Forum on sustainable development is the main United Nations platform dealing with sustainable development. It provides political leadership and guidance; follows up and review progress in implementing sustainable development commitments and addresses new and emerging sustainable development challenges; enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
The High-level Political Forum meets:
Every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly
"The Forum offers the international community a new multilateral governance architecture capable of responding to great challenges of sustainable development.
Dilma Rouseff, President of Brazil
We have created this Forum for the express purpose of delivering more effectively on our aspirations and agendas at a time when we realize that the practice of sustainability provides the only real bridge from our past to our present and our future, and from our planet to our peoples and our prosperity.
John W. Ashe, President of the 68th session of the General Assembly
I believe that the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC (...) should (also) serve as the platform for monitoring progress in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda
Martin Sajdik, 70th President of the Economic and Social Council
"The Forum will review progress, generate political impetus and launch partnerships and actions to advance shared goals. "
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General
The High-level Political Forum on sustainable development is the main United Nations platform dealing with sustainable development and the follow-up to UN conferences on sustainable development.
It was created at the Rio+20 Conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012. State leaders at the Conference decided to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development with the Forum so as elevate the consideration of sustainable development to the attention of Heads of State and Government.
The Forum is to (a) provide political leadership and guidance on sustainable development; (b) follow up and review progress in implementing sustainable development commitments; (c) enhance the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and (d) address new and emerging sustainable development challenges . The Forum is expected to steer and review the implementation of the sustainable development goals and the post 2015 development agenda which Member States are expected to adopt in 2015.
The HLPF aims to attract and engage world leaders and Major Groups, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society and relevant stakeholders, keeping sustainable development high on national, regional and global agendas.
What is the added value of the Forum?
The contribution of the Forum will be ultimately measured by its impact on people’s lives. Its comparative advantages will lie notably in the enthusiastic and structured engagement of Major Groups, NGOs, civil society and relevant stakeholders at large in the area of sustainable development; its multi-sectoral approach to development; its ability to take a long term view and to engage a wide range of stakeholders at the highest political level; its mandate to increase the science-policy interface as well as its central role in the follow up to the post-2015 development agenda, including the sustainable development goals.
How will the Forum work?
The HLPF will convene Heads of State and Government every four years, under the auspices of the UN General Assembly, to steer and promote sustainable development progress and address new challenges. Their deliberations will translate into a negotiated political declaration meant to provide high-level policy guidance and expedite action and results.
The Forum will also meet annually for a period of eight days including a three days ministerial segment, under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is expected that participating ministers will carry a variety of economic, social and environmental portfolios. Its meetings will allow for the discussion of specific themes, current trends and new challenges, sharing of lessons learned and experiences, learning from scientists, hearing NGOs and civil society from across the globe, coordinating sustainable development policies and UN system support. This will all feed into the political guidance to be given by the Forum.
The direct involvement of Heads of State and Government every four years will ensure that sustainable development continues to top the international agenda, bolstered by high-level strategic and visionary guidance for integrated and holistic policy-making. Starting in 2016, the Forum will also include national reviews of implementation of sustainable development by developed and developing countries. This should promote better understanding of trends, challenges and policies; allow accountability as well as facilitate action on the ground.
Who can participate in the Forum?
Consistent with its universal intergovernmental character, the Forum will be open to all Member States of the United Nations and States members of specialized agencies. This includes the participation of all countries that are members of the UN as well as of the Cook Islands, Niue, the Holy See and the State of Palestine. Provisions have also been made for the enhanced and active participation of non-state actors, Major Groups, members of civil society and other stakeholders in sustainable development. This will allow for participatory and inclusive discussions and decision making at the Forum.
How can NGOs, civil society and other non-State actors participate in the Forum
The sustainable development process within the UN has benefitted greatly from a high degree of interaction with representatives from NGOs, civil society and other types of economic, social and technical stakeholders. The format for their participation is based upon the concept of “Major Groups” that was outlined in Agenda 21. The various NGO and civil society actors can engage in the Forum by contacting the Major Group organizing partners. The General Assembly defined ambitious specific modalities for engagement in the new Forum of Major Groups and other stakeholders in sustainable development. More information on how to engage in the Forum is available on the Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.
Who convenes the Forum?
The Forum, under the auspices of ECOSOC, will be convened annually by the President of ECOSOC for a period of eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment held during the high-level segment of ECOSOC. The Forum will replace the ECOSOC annual ministerial review starting in 2016.
Every four years, under the auspices of the General Assembly, the Forum will be convened by the President of the General Assembly for two days. This meeting will be held at the beginning of the General Assembly session.
The General Assembly may also decide to convene the Forum on other occasions, as needed, to advance the sustainable development agenda.
The terms "under the auspices of the General Assembly" and "under the auspices of ECOSOC" mean that the Forum will have links to both of these two main UN organs while keeping a distinct identity from them.
What are the expectations of the Forum?
The Forum is a completely new process that ensures that sustainable development is high in the attention of world leaders, guides the follow-up to commitments on sustainable development. Ultimately, it will steer and review progress towards the sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development agenda once Member States adopt them in 2015. It provides a platform to address economic, social and environmental challenges and policies in a holistic way. It is a place to reflect on long term development trends, identify emerging issues, new scientific findings and how the policy choices we make today will impact future generations.
Will the Forum have any power to enforce outcomes?
The Forum will not have any enforcement mechanism to compel States to comply with its recommendations. Given the enormous scope of the global sustainable development agenda, implementation of its recommendations depends on the commitment of each country.
The Forum's annual meetings convened under the auspices of ECOSOC will produce a negotiated ministerial declaration, based on consensus. The summit-level meetings every four years will produce a concise negotiated political declaration. These outcomes will carry important political weight. Additionally starting in 2016, the Forum will also conduct regular reviews on the follow-up and implementation of sustainable development commitments and objectives, including those related to means of implementation, within the context of the post-2015 development agenda. Such reviews will be useful for engaging all governments, as well as UN system organizations and other actors, in exercising accountability and promoting implementation.
Will countries in special situations have a space in the Forum?
Yes, the Forum is mandated to devote adequate time to the discussion of the sustainable development challenges facing developing countries, including the most vulnerable countries, in particular the least developed countries, small island developing States, landlocked developing countries and African countries. It will also discuss the particular challenges facing the middle-income countries in achieving sustainable development
How is the Forum supported within the UN?
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs acts as the substantive secretariat to the Forum, through its Division for Sustainable Development, by providing governments with timely analysis, data and other background documentation, usually in the form of official reports. The UN coordinates these inputs from across its various specialized agencies, funds and programmes on a regular basis. The Department cooperates closely with the UN system in preparing and supporting the Forum.
Further inquiries should be directed to http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/contact
For further information on the HLPF, please visit the UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1556
Information for Major Groups can be found here: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1564