Increased Involvement of Local and Regional Governments in High-Level Political Forum 2020

Held virtually for the first time this year from the 7th to the 16th of July due to COVID-19, the 2020 HLPF focussed on the experiences of its 197 member states concerning SDG implementation as well as gaps and lessons learned.

© UN HLPF

“The COVID-19 crisis is having devastating impacts because of our past and present failures, because we have yet to take the SDGs seriously!”

With this statement UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Held virtually for the first time this year from the 7th to the 16th of July due to COVID-19, the 2020 HLPF focussed on the experiences of its 197 member states concerning SDG implementation as well as gaps and lessons learned.

Originally announced under the theme “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: Realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development’’ by the UN General Assembly, the HLPF’s agenda was adapted in light of the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic to make room for the effects of the pandemic on SDG implementation and the 2030 Agenda.

The crucial role of local governments and the need to include them in the implementation of the SDGs and connected review processes was addressed in at least eight separate sessions at the HLPF. The presentation of relevant evidence on SDG implementation at the sub-national level from the OECD’s initiative on a territorial approach, contributed key insights on localising the SDGs. Innovative side-events such as ‘’Local Action for Global Commitments’’ and "Bolstering Local Action to Control the Pandemic and Accelerate Implementation", demonstrated the importance of engaging the local level especially in times of crisis to build more inclusive, equal, resilient and sustainable societies, as laid out in the 2030 Agenda.

As part of the HLPF 2020 the Third Local & Regional Governments Day & Forum (LRG Day) allowed local, national and international governments to dedicate a whole day to exchange ideas and initiatives focussed on bolstering local action and accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Based on the demand to increase investments in the area of universal access to essential public services, the stakeholders involved in the organisation of the LRG Day presented a joint statement to the 2020 HLPF to further define priorities for the COVID-19 recovery phase. A session on ‘’Messages from the Regions’’ reported mixed progress across the regions and highlighted the important role of civil society for the work of regional platforms.

During the LRG Day UCLG and UN-Habitat jointly presented their new Voluntary Local Review Series (VLR), including a first volume of Guidelines for VLRs. Besides highlighting the important role of VLRs for monitoring and evaluating SDG progress, this session focussed on the contributions of VLRs toward multilevel governance and changes needed to achieve just, resilient and sustainable cities, territories and societies that will guarantee the protection of all citizens during and beyond times of crisis.

Although the High-level Political Forum concluded without the adoption of a ministerial declaration or a clear vision of how multilateralism and the 2030 Agenda can be revived, national, regional and local governments were able to leave the event with new ideas on how to enhance coordination, the cooperation between local and regional government networks, as well as the allocation of adequate resources and coherent implementation of SDGs at all levels in order to better contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in future.

For a more detailed report on the HLPF 2020, further background notes and summaries of particular sessions please click here.