UN Member States agree on the format of the High-level political forum on sustainable development

After five months of negotiations, UN Member States agreed on the resolution text that defines the format, functions and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF or the forum). The resolution will now be formally adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The HLPF will be the intergovernmental institution in the UN mandated to “provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments, [and] enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development in a holistic and cross-sectoral manner at all levels.” Its establishment was decided by Member States during the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

One of the most challenging aspects was defining the institutional format of the HLPF related to its positioning in the UN system in order for the new forum to be complementary to the two UN Charter bodies that are already mandated to deal with matters related to the economic, social and environmental agenda: the General Assembly (GA) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). As decided in Rio+20, the HLPF will build on the experiences of and replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), a functional commission of ECOSOC. CSD was established in 1992 as the dedicated UN institution on sustainable development, but after an overall successful initial work in strengthening the UN’s sustainable development agenda it has lost momentum over the years.

However, unlike the CSD, the HLPF will follow a so-called “hybrid approach” and its meetings will be convened both under the auspices of the GA and of ECOSOC. The meetings convened by the GA will be held every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government, who will meet for two days and produce a political declaration. The meetings under the auspices of the ECOSOC will last eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment, and will allow more time to follow-up and review progress in the implementation of the sustainable development agenda; improve coordination and coherence within the UN system on programmes and policies; and promote the sharing of best practices on sustainable development, among other issues. The meetings of the HLPF under the auspices of ECOSOC will replace the Annual Ministerial Review, a ministerial segment of the substantive session of the Council held annually.

Civil society participation in the HLPF will build on arrangements and practices observed by the Commission on Sustainable Development (including ECOSOC decision 1993/215 and ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 of 25 July 1996). The forum will be open to Major Groups (the nine sectors of society identified in 1992 in the context of the sustainable development process and who include: women; children and youth; indigenous peoples; non-governmental organizations; local authorities; workers and trade unions; business and industry; and scientific and technological community) and “other stakeholders,” e.g. education and academic entities, persons with disabilities or volunteer groups. Major Groups and other stakeholders will be allowed to attend all official meetings of the forum; have access to all official information and documents; be able to intervene in official meetings; submit documents and present written and oral contributions; make recommendations; and organize side-events and roundtables, in cooperation with Member States and the UN Secretariat. Furthermore, Major Groups and other stakeholders are encouraged to “autonomously establish and maintain effective coordination mechanisms for participation in the HLPF.”

The first meeting of the forum will be convened under the auspices of the GA in September 2013 and will have an inaugural character, which also means that the outcome of this meeting will exceptionally consist of a President’s Summary. It is expected that the HLPF will meet again under the auspices of the GA in 2015, in relation to the launch of the post-2015 development agenda.

For more information on the HLPF, please consult this web page.

Source: NGLS