HLPF 2016: Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Now that two months have passed since the first high-level political forum (HLPF) since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and its sustainable development goals (SDGs), it is good to reflect and share a brief analysis, lessons learned, and suggested next steps for future HLPFs. This blog is a concise version of more in-depth and substantive work that Orsolya Bartha from International Disability Alliance (IDA), Megan Smith from IDA, and I put together. Thank you for the stellar teamwork, dear colleagues!

As a quick recap, the HLPF is the central UN platform for the global follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as other frameworks related to sustainable development. For details on the background of the HLPF and HLPF 2016, please read my previous blogs: The High-level Political Forum and 22 Disability Advocates and HLPF 2016: Solidarity, Inclusion, and Participation.

Quick Facts

  • The HLPF 2016 was attended by 22 representatives of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities consisting of 12 persons with disabilities and 10 advocates.
  • An official position paper by the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities titled “Ensuring that no one was left behind” was submitted to the HLPF and endorsed by over 370 organizations.
  • Two representatives from the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities were invited to be official presenters at the HLPF.
  • Representatives of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities gave 17 interventions during the official sessions of the HLPF.
  • Seventeen out of the 22 written Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) explicitly elaborated on the situation of persons with disabilities in their national context (Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Madagascar, Mexico, Montenegro, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, Uganda, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela).
  • Eight out of the 22 oral presentations on the VNRs explicitly mentioned persons with disabilities (Egypt, Finland, France, Madagascar, Morocco, Norway, Sierra Leone, and Samoa).
  • The Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities co-organized and hosted six side events.
  • Representatives from the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities presented at 10 HLPF side events.

Although the HLPF 2016 was a pilot year, there is indication that the HLPF has the potential to fulfill the role of a strong monitoring mechanism in which national reviews and thematic exchange can take place inclusive of grassroots organizations. Governments took the Forum seriously, attended with well prepared, large and high-level delegations. Despite the intergovernmental nature of the Forum, it was conducted as a multi-stakeholder platform that provided space for all kinds of actors to participate, intervene and deliver speeches, including persons with disabilities.

Prior to the HLPF, persons with disabilities mobilized, engaged at the national level in their country’s voluntary review process and report writing. Additionally, persons with disabilities meaningful participated throughout the entire Forum, as indicated above under Quick Facts. Positively, Member States, the UN, and other actors recognized persons with disabilities several times at the Forum as one of the most organized and well prepared stakeholder groups.

The HLPF 2016 provided a global venue in which persons with disabilities could connect, was an initial great learning opportunity on how to draw attention to national challenges in the global arena, and provided new options to strengthen UN Convention on the Rights of Peoples with Disabilities (CRPD) implementation within the SDG framework and development policies and programs. The HLPF 2016 also ensured that a wide range of disability organizations collaborated. During the Forum, initial steps were taken to formalize the establishment of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, which up to that point only existed on an ad-hoc level. Building on the meaningful participation from HLPF 2016, it is important for the disability community to continue to work as a broad coalition for future HLPFs. Please continue reading for recommendations on next steps.

Next Steps

Recommendations for Preparatory Process for HLPF 2017

  • Discuss with organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and allies on what to achieve over the HLPF 2017 theme
  • Convene a working group that will draft and initiate broad consultation to carry out an official submission by persons with disabilities on the HLPF 2017 theme
  • Develop main messages to be communicated at the HLPF 2017
  • Development of participation and funding strategies to ensure a gender-balanced, geographical-balanced, and diverse representation of persons with disabilities, particularly of grassroots DPOs
  • Secure funding and resources, including translation fees, event organizing, and more
  • Coordinate, participate and share information in the regional multi-stakeholder platforms
  • Develop a strategic approach for participation in the voluntary national reports with emphasis to empower the involvement of national DPOs (strong participation in national multi-stakeholder consultations; reasonable accommodation for participants with disabilities; exchange of knowledge between national DPOs and global advocates; consultations to analyze the written national submissions; close collaboration with grassroots DPOs during the HLPF for urgent feedback; and so forth)
  • Support for the submission of parallel reports
  • Ensure that the new form of web-based interfaces is accessible and persons with disabilities are able to participate in an effective, broad and balanced participation by region and by type of organization
  • Address the accessibility challenges of the HLPF 2016 to create a more inclusive and accessible HLPF 2017

Upcoming themes for future HLPFs

  • HLPF 2017: Date: 10-19 July 2017, Theme: “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world.” The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be Goal 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14, and including Goal 17.
  • HLPF 2018: Theme: “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies.” The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be Goal 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and including Goal 17.
  • HLPF 2019: Theme: “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.” The set of goals to be reviewed in depth will be Goal 4, 8, 10, 13, 16, and including Goal 17.

I will end on H.E. Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), President of ECOSOC and HLPF’s quote from the HLPF 2016 Official Summary that exemplifies how persons with disabilities were meaningfully represented at the Forum. “Inclusiveness means that all people can participate as partners, rights-holders and full citizens, not as subjects or mere beneficiaries. Relevant international instruments often exist, such as the Convention on the Rights of Peoples with Disabilities, but are not always respected.”