Last week marked the conclusion of the 2018 UN High Level Political Forum. The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the central platform which participates in strengthening sustainable development governance within the United Nations. It was created in 2012 as a result of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), in “The Future We Want” outcome document.

The HLPF assembles every year under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with a focus on a special theme. The Forum comprises representatives from all Member States, with a number of activities, Ministerial meetings, special and side events organised during the eight-day event. The Forum adopts intergovernmentally negotiated political declarations.

Moreover, since 2017, the HLPF focuses on monitoring progresses and reviewing the implementation of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the SDGs.

This year, the HLPF has been held in New York City from 9th to 18th July, with a focus on “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. The follow-up and review was carried out for the following SDGs:

  • 6 – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • 7 – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • 12 – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • 15 – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • 17 – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, that will be considered each year

For its 2018 edition, the ECOSOC High-Level Policy Forum for Sustainable Development began by reviewing progress and delays in the SDGs. It looked at ways to make societies sustainable and resilient, examined categories of countries in special situations and their progress on achieving resilient cities and communities in a series of thematic reviews, including perspectives from Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, Landlocked Developing Countries and Middle-income Countries.

The HLPF conclusions were marked by the strong commitment of Member States and all stakeholders to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, the HLPF has also heard calls for the more involvement of women, youth and vulnerable groups, who lamented a lack of focus on the negative aspects of the SDGs progress so far, as well as the voluntary commitment of Member States towards the Agenda 2030 as hindering the achievement of this.

Moreover, the state of implementation of the Agenda 2030, three years after its adoption, has raised many concerns.  There has been a slowdown or loss of momentum, as evidenced by the increasing number of malnourished people, from 777 million to 815 million between 2015 and 2016.  The overall funding needed has not yet been released or properly directed.

Ministers presented the successes of implementing a people-centred Agenda 2030, while also discussing its limitations. Finally, the HLPF adopted its Ministerial Declaration, despite opposition from the United States and Israel.

The analysis of the SDGs within the forum was organised around two types of reviews: Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) by Member States and in-depth reviews on progress made on single SDGs, with the assistance of the ECOSOC, and intergovernmental bodies and forums. Malta was among the Members States presenting its Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the last day of the HLPF.

For more information on the event and its outcomes, visit


Article by Isé Penisson.