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The High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in 2015

What's next for the SDGs?

So, since 2015, after the UN General Assembly meeting and the adoption of the SDGs, global institutions, governments, civil society, and local citizens have begun working with sustainable development with these goals in mind.

We just talked about some of the positives and criticisms of the goals and you reflected on what aspects would be priorities for you, if you were negotiating the goals. If the goals are a useful frame to monitor positive actions, do we have a set of incentives that will actually make governments want to deliver them? What about civil society and local citizens?

High Level Political Forums

Well, first of all, the United Nations holds High Level Political Forums every year, to carry out voluntary reviews of the 2030 Agenda. Member States, both developed and developing countries, and UN bodies take part in this, as well as relevant UN entities and other stakeholders such as non-governmental organisations and bodies from different sectors.

In 2017, 2018, and 2019, the HLPF will examine the SDGs in-depth, organised into cross-cutting themes. In 2017, the theme is ‘eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world’ and looks at Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14. In 2018, the theme is ‘transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’ and looks at Goals 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15. In 2019, the theme is ‘empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality’ and looks at Goals 4, 8, 10, 13 and 16.

This is the forum where high level monitoring and reviewing takes place, to keep a broad overview of progress. It is the main way in which we can tell the wider world about the SDGs’ progress and what governments are actually doing. These forums are an opportunity to look together at what remains to be done and to help each other to get there.

Governments and civil society groups are crucial to getting things done. It is in government and civil society where concepts are turned from words into actions. This is where concepts and campaign slogans such as ‘leave no one behind’ and ‘because I am a girl’ are turned into reality. Political action within countries is where most of the activity takes place.

For example, in Ireland, one alliance that is forming is Coalition 2030. Coalition 2030 is an alliance of over 100 leading civil society organisations working in Ireland and across the developing world. The alliance aims to play a leadership role in achieving the SDGs by 2030, to have a government that works in partnership with civil society to deliver on the goals—for people and for the planet. An important part of this is promoting public engagement to ensure that everyone is part of this movement and to make sure no one is left behind.

SDG scorecard

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI), based in the United Kingdom, has put together a scorecard for monitoring the SDGs. This scorecard is an attempt to project where the world will be in 2030 across the SDG agenda. For each goal, the ODI selected one target to represent the goal’s main aims. They analysed the best available projections for that target, and where there were gaps, produced their own. For each of the 17 targets, they reviewed trends and projected forward current rates of progress to see how close they will get to being realised. Based on these projections, they then gave each target a grade.

scorecard Copyright: The Overseas Development Institute. Click to enlarge

The result was a ‘scorecard’ of where the world will be in 2030, against select targets, assuming progress continues at its present rate.

Overall, it is important to remember who all of this is for. This ‘Revolution in Data’, as the UN calls it, must be relevant to the lives of the poor, and not just to elite development professionals.

SDGs and you?

  • Think about the scorecard put in place by the Overseas Development Institute and how you might create a personal scorecard for yourself, based on your personal life, your professional life, your role as consumer, and your role as citizen.
  • Choose one of the goals covered in this course. How would you rate your own actions in the above areas against the indicators of that goal? What score would you receive for that goal?
  • Can you think of actions you need to take to improve your own score by 2030?

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This article is from the free online course:

Achieving Sustainable Development

Trinity College Dublin