Building Back Better - High-Level Political Forum 2022

In the theme of the 2022 High-Level Political Forum of “ Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, 197 member states gathered and discussed progress, gaps and lessons learned in SDG implementation during the pandemic.


The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) aims to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations on how to advance the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda during the ‘’Decade of Action and Delivery’’, as part of ensuring sustainable, inclusive and resilient recovery from the pandemic.

Taking place both virtually and in-person at UN Headquarters in New York, US, from July 5 to July 15 2022, the HLPF conducted an in-depth review the progress towards five specific SDGs: 4 on Quality Education, 5 on Gender Equality, 14 on Life below Water, 15 on Life on Land, and 17 on Partnerships for the Goals as well as presented and discussed the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) from 44 countries. The forum also took into account the different and particular impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic across all SDGs and the integrated, indivisible and interlinked nature of the SDGs. Several hundred side-events, special events, VNR Labs, and exhibitions took place in-person and on-line during the HLPF, which was attended by six Heads of State and Government, more than 130 deputy Prime-Ministers, Ministers, and Vice-Ministers, as well as other representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society. 

“Our world is in deep trouble—and so too are the Sustainable Development Goals,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, setting the tone for the HLPF 2022 which focused on reviewing the implementations of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at a time of an ongoing global pandemic, geopolitical tensions and open conflicts, as well as climate change. Other speakers also expressed concerns over the setbacks the global community has faced since the last in-person session of the HLPF in 2019. Nevertheless, they expressed optimism that we can improve the resilience of our socioeconomic and health systems. 

Delegates were called on to prioritize action to invest in equitable vaccine access; tackle the food, energy and fertilizer crises; increase investments in social and health protections, especially for women; increase meaningful youth participation in decision making; invest in people; “keep 1.5°C alive”; and review access and eligibility for concessional finance for developing countries. Speakers also highlighted the need for stronger legal frameworks and financial commitments to prevent violence towards women and girls and enable them to enjoy their rights to healthcare and education. 

As a Special High-Level Event, the fifth edition of the "Local and Regional Governments Forum - Fostering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals from the Local Level towards the 2023 SDG Summit" showcased the relationship between the SDGs and the innovative actions taken by local and regional governments for their implementation. The Local and Regional Governments Forum was facilitated by UCLG and UN-Habitat, UN DESA, UNDP, Local2030 and Global Taskforce and divided into two days. 

This first virtual session included a panel on Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) and Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) as key policy tools for achieving the SDGs, where mayors and regional representatives from different parts of the globe shared their experiences with localising the SDGs. Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) had tripled in the past two years, resulting in increased global dialogue, as well as transformation from the bottom up through local innovation. Many referred to the importance of VLRs and VSRs as essential tools to measure progress and lessons can be learned from the crisis response at the local level over the past two years. 

The panel on “Multilevel Governance and Multistakeholder Collaboration” included regional, state, municipal, and local government representatives who discussed engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders, including women, youth, and the private sector, to develop tailored strategies and plans for local SDG implementation according to stakeholders’ needs and priorities. 

The side-events brought together different perspectives from UN agencies, national governments, local and regional governments, and civil society. It also heard the experiences of the Local2030 Hubs working on the reviewed SDGs. 

Several HLPF side-events concentrated on local action, including ‘’Building Back Better - Localizing the SDGs‘‘ focusing on the effort and the need for recovery to be people centered and inclusive of all sectors especially for rural women and children. The side-event ‘’Acting at Local Level’’ raised the issue, that at least 100 of the 169 SDG targets will not be reached without proper engagement and co-ordination with local and regional governments. This has been recognized by member states, which have emphasized the critical role of local and regional governments in SDG implementation. Looking to the first seven years of SDG implementation, the side-event ‘’From local perspectives to global principles: drawing lessons from local integration of culture in SDG implementation to help build back better globally‘‘ analysed Voluntary National and Local Reviews and their ability to demonstrate that it is often at the local level that this potential is best being realised and looked at practices and approaches. The side-event ‘’Building Back Better Through Localising SDGs: Lessons learned from Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries in the implementation of the multi-stakeholder partnership model‘‘ focused on the current Twelfth Malaysia Plan (2021 to 2025) within the SDGs are integrated with a very strong emphasis on localising SDGs at the grassroots levels. Just like Malaysia, its Southeast Asian neighbours, namely Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines also shared their experiences in fostering a partnership model in building back better and illustrated the effective ground models of innovation among a number of Southeast Asian countries. The session Local action: getting the SDGs back on track leveraged the views and experiences of its members and partners to advance sustainability at the local level. In addition to analyzing how local action can accelerate the achievement of the SDGs under review in 2022 (SDGs 4, 5, 14, 15, and 17), it highlighted the integrated, indivisible, and interrelated nature of the goals. 

On the margins of the meeting, the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2022 was released on 7 July. HLPF 2022 also began planning for the second “SDG Summit,” which will be convened in September 2023 during the UN General Assembly. UCLG and Global Taskforce launched the 6th edition of their report “Towards the localization of SDGs” and UCLG Women lauchned the report “Local and Regional Governments’ progress on Gender Equality”. UN-Habitat launched a new digital platform at HLPF with knowledge, tools, and events on Multilevel Governance. 

The SDG Lab, Cepei, and IISD, in collaboration with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) hosted a panel discussion and Q&A session after the 2022 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, answering the questions of how the HLPF 2022 did, what challenges were identified and what themes emerged for moving forward with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. And most importantly, where does the 2030 Agenda go from here? 

Here you can find the 2022 report from the panel discussion and Q&A. 
To read more about the 2022 HLPF, visit the website. Here you can also find the IISD report. 

You can find the Local and Regional Governments Forum recordings here