Regions4 Secretariat and several regional governments’ representatives attended the virtual 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) from 7 to 16 July 2020. This year was the first HLPF of the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030 and was held under the theme “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: Realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.” It took stock of progress, gaps, and challenges of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the main takeaways of the 2020 HLPF, there was the assessment that the SDGs progress was uneven before the pandemic and the crisis abruptly disrupted implementation efforts of the SDGs and, in some cases, turned back decades of progress, particularly impacting the most vulnerable. However, the pandemic can be seen as a wake-up call to transformational change, building back better within the guiding framework of the 2030 Agenda. In addition, there was a strong call for multilateralism, international cooperation and solidarity; and an increasing understanding and support of the localization of the SDGs, particularly the Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). The HLPF ended without adopting a ministerial declaration, contrary to expectations; and negotiations are ongoing to reach consensus.

The participation of regions was specially reinforced by Regions4 members, such as Åland Islands, Basque Country, Catalonia, CONGOPE, Council of Governors, Flanders, Jalisco, Navarra, Rabat Salé-Kenitra, São Paulo, Québec and many others that followed the webcasting. The regions reported different efforts and territorial approaches to the localization of the SDGs.

Regions4 organized the virtual side event “2030 Agenda: from global emergencies to solutions at the regional level” to discuss the essential role of the SDG for an effective recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Regional governments worldwide and representatives of the international community shared experiences, challenges, and ambitions to build back better, greener, and fairer.

Regions4 attended parallel meetings, strengthened collaboration with key partners, and contributed to different activities, as members of the Global Task Force and as coordinators of the Local Authorities Major Group, in the Steering Group of the Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS) Coordination Mechanism. Regional governments joined:

  • the HLPF sessions on “Protecting the planet and building resilience” and “Bolstering local action to control the pandemic and accelerate implementation”
  • the VNR Lab on Multi-level governance and subnational reporting on VNRs and VLRs
  • the Local and Regional Governments Day
  • the Third Local and Regional Governments Forum
  • the Local Action for Global Commitments.

Our constituency adopted the Statement of the Local and Regional Governments to the 2020 HLPF  and launched its fourth report on the localization of the SDGs.

Regions4 Secretariat prepared the document “HLPF Wrap-up 2020” that summarizes the main discussions and details of the Regions4 constituency’s participation. You can read it here.

The way ahead

The 75th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 75) will mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations with a one-day high-level meeting on September 21 under the theme “The Future We Want, the UN We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism.” The negotiations of the Declaration to be formally adopted at the meeting are concluded.

In the framework of the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary General will convene the first Sustainable Development Goals Moment on September 18 at 8:00 am EST (tbc). This meeting will serve to kick-start the Decade of Action by engaging Heads of State and Government as well as leading SDG stakeholders around the critical actions that must be taken to recover better and accelerate SDG implementation to deliver by 2030. A particular emphasis will be placed on poverty and inequality; on climate change and a healthy planet; and gender equality while cross-cutting issues such as finance, governance and technology will be discussed throughout.

The virtual SDG Moment will be complemented by a fully virtual UN SDG Action Zone. It will be held on September 22-24 and will provide a space for multi-stakeholder engagement through big picture discussions, deep dive dialogues, challenging discussions, and inspiring showcases. Registration to host breakout sessions, talks, performances, exhibits, or register to the speaker roster are open by August 3.

Additional events are expected to take place, such as the Biodiversity Summit to be held on September 30 and convened under the theme “Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development.”

Lastly, the negotiations of the draft Resolution of the ECOSOC/HLPF Review are ongoing; thus, the thematic focus of the 2021 HLPF, as well as the set of goals to be discussed in-depth, are yet to be defined.