UN members consider draft SDG follow-up and review framework

26 May 2016

Deliberations are underway at UN headquarters in New York to identify a global follow-up and review framework for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with delegates this week discussing a revised draft resolution issued on 18 May by the co-facilitators of the process, Lois M. Young, Permanent Representative of Belize and Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark.

UN members agreed to a new, ambitious sustainable development roadmap last September for the next 15 years. A list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an accompanying 169 targets to help benchmark progress, replaced the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) following their expiry at the end of last year.

The 2030 Agenda assigns a central role to a High Level Political Forum (HLPF) under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for overseeing follow-up and review at the global level. The document specifies that the process will be informed by various reports, facilitate the sharing of experiences, carry out regular voluntary reviews, and hold thematic reviews under the HLPF. Every four years the high-level body should also provide political guidance on the agenda and its implementation. (See BioRes, 30 September 2015)

A set of 230 global indicators agreed to by the UN Statistical Commission in March will be used to help measure progress towards the goals and targets and will likely inform various reporting efforts. (See BioRes,18 March 2016)

Draft resolution

The draft resolution on follow-up and review, issued following a series of meetings over the past few months, would see the UN General Assembly (UNGA) agree that the HLPF will discuss a selection of SDGs and their interlinkages over a four-year cycle. SDG17, which focuses on systemic means to achieve the goals as a whole and includes several references to the role of trade and investment, would be discussed annually.

Trade and investment also feature in other goals focused on food security, ocean sustainability, sustainable consumption and production, ending illegal wildlife trade, promoting investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technologies, and adopting investment promotion regimes for least developed countries (LDCs).

In some instances, the references in the SDGs are objectives in their own right, such as prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and eliminating subsidies to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by 2020. Others, meanwhile, are designated as a means to achieve the goal. This includes, for example, rationalising fossil-fuel subsidies as a way of ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. 

May’s draft resolution also proposes using an annual theme to inform the review of the selected SDGs. Food security is listed as a theme for the 2017 HLPF, sustainable cities and building productive capacities for 2018, and empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness in 2019.

The document additionally suggests learning and building on the experience from the 22 voluntary national reviews due to take place at this year’s HLPF in New York from 11-20 July. It encourages member states to involve non-state actors, including civil society and the private sector, in national voluntary reviews.

A request is made for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to update, as appropriate, voluntary country reporting guidelines provided in an annex to a report published by his office in January on critical milestones for a coherent, efficient, and inclusive global follow-up and review process. 

The meetings of the HLPF should devote adequate time to challenges facing specific groups of developing countries, such as LDCs, small island developing states, and landlocked developing countries.

All inputs to the HLPF will be made available and easily accessible in a user-friendly format, including expanding existing web-based platforms, where appropriate.

ICTSD reporting; “Co-Facilitators Revise 2030 Agenda Follow-up Text,” IISD REPORTING, 18 May 2016.

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