A virtual check-in on the SDGs: CSPPS at the 2020 High-Level Political Forum

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development, which has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. Normally, it takes place every year in July at the New York Headquarters. However, due to COVID-19, this year’s edition took place online. 

The 2020 edition of the HLPF revolved mainly around the status of the SDGs in light of the pandemic. Participants reflected on how the international community should respond to the pandemic in a way that simultaneously puts us back on track to achieving the 2030 Agenda during its final decade. Additionally, 47 countries presented their voluntary national reviews (VNRs) during the 2020 HLFP, which are state-led reviews of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

CSPPS believes the HLFP is a key event in the accomplishment of the SDGs and is of particular importance in reiterating and working towards the backbone of the 2030 Agenda: SDG16+. Therefore, CSPPS took part by engaging in VNR-presentations, roundtable discussions, and by organising and moderating side-events. 

First of all, CSPPS co-hosted a roundtable discussion on ‘Building Peace Infrastructures in Africa’ that included UN representatives, Member States and civil society organisations. The roundtable provided an opportunity to reflect on perspectives and experiences from building infrastructures for peace. Key takeaways from this discussion:
1.    The need to enhance and prioritize peacebuilding capacities
2.    The need to proactively engage and adequately support local peacebuilding capacities
3.    The need to adequately and sustainably finance infrastructures
4.    The need for better coherence and coordination when it comes to peace initiatives, mechanisms and capacities

Secondly, on the 14th of July, the CSPPS Secretariat co-hosted the event ''Accelerating SDG 16+ action to restore human well-being and build back better''. During this event, a joint statement from CSPPS, TAP Network, Pathfinders, WFUNA and Global Alliance was launched. This jointly written Global Call-to-Action calls for an increased focus from governments, the UN System and all stakeholders towards advancing SDG16+, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Global Call-to-Action is now open for endorsement. 

Thirdly, CSPPS partnered with ten other organisations for the ''Voices of SDG16+ -Stories for Global Action'' event that took place on the 15th of July. The event was chaired by CSPPS Secretariat Coordinator Peter Van Sluijs and Bianca Pabotoy of Center for Peace Education and 2019 Voices finalist. Local peacebuilders from Egypt, Nigeria, Palestine, Uganda, and Yemen were selected to showcase how local actions are supporting global solutions and to illustrate how local action on SDG16+ is central to the COVID-19 response and resilient recovery through short videos. The well-attended side-event provided a segue for showcasing the resilience of humanity in the face of a crisis. The 2020 Voices contributions were inspiring and the ideas were innovative to say the least.  Visit the Voices of SDG16+ website to see the videos and find the event summary here.

Voices of SDG16+
Voices of SDG16+

Lastly, on the 16th of July, CSPPS launched its report ‘Fighting COVID19, Building Peace -What Local Peacebuilders say about COVID-19, Civic Space, Fragility and Conflict Drives’ at the HLPF 2020 Virtual Side-Event ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Local Peacebuilding’, co-hosted with Conducive Space for Peace (CSP). The event focused on the devastating ‘secondary impact’ of the pandemic and, the exacerbation of the underlying root causes of conflict, particularly inequality and on often inadequate government responses which restrain the activities of civil society engagement. Peacebuilders reported a significant uptick in violence, and exploitation by governments, as well as authoritarian measures being put in place in response to the pandemic. Peacebuilding organisations reported struggling with accessing the most vulnerable and affected groups and also indicated spikes in gender-based violence. Report on the event here.

Finally, in context of the HLPF2020 the CSPPS coordinator was asked to share some reflection on the meeting and the impact of it happening virtually. You find the articles with his insights linked here: 

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