Update and Summary of High-level Political Forum

From 26 June to 8 July 2015 the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (meaning that the Forum will have a link to this main UN organ while also keeping a distinct identity) at the UN Headquarters in New York. The HLPF met from 26 June to 8 July and the ministerial segment from 6-8 July. The theme was on “Strengthening integration, implementation and review – the HLPF after 2015.” The meeting consisted of moderated roundtable discussions among governments, the UN system, international and regional intergovernmental organizations, Major Groups and Other Stakeholders and brought together nearly 1800 delegates.

HLPF Background

The Forum was created at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (known as Rio+20) to follow up on the implementation of sustainable development commitments and to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations. The Forum has particular significance as a key platform for follow-up and review of the new universal sustainable development agenda, which will be adopted by Member States in September 2015. As such, it is critical for persons with disabilities to engage with the Forum. Moreover, persons with disabilities are explicitly referenced as other stakeholders in paragraph 16 in resolution A/RES/67/290 adopted by the General Assembly on July 9, 2013 on the format and organizational aspects of the HLPF on sustainable development.

Alt="Risna Utami at the UN"

Risna Utami at the UN

As CBM we supported Risna Utami to attend the HLPF. She is CBM’s partner and founder and the Executive Director of OHANA (a local disability rights organization in Indonesia) and Chairwoman of the Indonesian Consortium for Disability Rights. Risna presented as a lead discussant in a roundtable on behalf of persons with disabilities and ageing persons on 6 July over the theme of emerging issues in sustainable development. Risna particularly highlighted the situation of persons with disabilities and ageing persons from the global South (continue reading for more details).

On 26 June – the opening of the HLPF – International Disability and Development Consortium, International Disability Alliance, Amnesty International, Beyond 2015 Campaign, SOS Children’s Villages and World Vision hosted a side event on “Civil Society Engagement and Citizens Participation in a Sustainable Development Era.” Members States present at the side event included Canada, Sweden, Colombia, Ireland and Brazil.

Alt="Civil Society colleagues from the HLPF side event"

Civil Society colleagues from the HLPF side event

Vladimir Cuk of IDA presented on behalf of persons with disabilities with key points including the following:

  • This new agenda is bringing hope and it critical in strengthening the involvement of persons with disabilities at national level.
  • Unless persons with disabilities are involved from the design and planning phase of the implementation of the post-2015 framework on national level, there will be NO inclusive society created for persons with disabilities.

On 30 June ECOSOC President Martin Sajdik of Austria held an interactive dialogue with Major Groups and Other Stakeholders. Orsolya Bartha of IDA presented on behalf of persons with disabilities. Her presentation was well received because of the concrete recommendations, which include:

  • The HLPF must evolve to a true inclusive-participatory global platform for the monitoring of the new sustainable development framework and therefore must support the establishment of a coordinated, open, transparent stakeholder participation that keeps the door open to new emerging actors.
  • The Forum must build on the strengths and experiences of existing national and regional processes therefore it must ensure that the implementation of the new agenda consolidates, complements and strengthens existing commitments including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Successful reviews can be conducted by using existing reporting mechanism that can incorporate progress achieved on the post-2015 implementation. For example Member States can report on progress achieved for persons with disabilities in front of the UNCRPD Committee as well as before the HLPF.
  • In order to further review progress made towards the inclusion of persons with disabilities we recommend that during the next 15 years (until 2030) at least one thematic session of the HLPF be dedicated to persons with disabilities.
  • We would like to recommend the establishment of an ongoing thematic working group on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development agenda. Such group would review and offer policy and technical advice to the Forum and Member States on the mainstreaming of the rights of persons with disabilities. In addition it would provide technical expertise on how NOT to create or perpetuate institutional, attitudinal, physical, legal and information and communications technology (ICT) barriers to the inclusion and participation of persons with disabilities.
  • We hope that the HLPF will safeguard the participation of persons with disabilities at all levels and provide necessary political guidance to Member States to include the rights of persons with disabilities in the implementation phase of the post-2015 development agenda and ensure that persons with disabilities are lifted out of poverty and regarded as a contributing agents of an inclusive society.
Alt="Vladimir Cuk presenting at the Ministerial opening plenary of the HLPF"

Vladimir Cuk presenting at the Ministerial opening plenary of the HLPF

On 6 July Vladimir Cuk presented at the Ministerial opening plenary of the HLPF “Managing the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the sustainable development goals: what it will take.” Vladimir was the only civil society representative in the opening plenary. A key point from Vladimir’s presentation include:

  • The inclusion of persons with disabilities will significantly contribute to the eradication of poverty. An inclusive society for all cannot be achieved without the empowerment of persons with disabilities across the globe. In order to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, the UNCRPD must serve as a foundation for the achievement of a society which values diversity, respects equality and realizes the full potential of persons with disabilities: building a better world for all.

Later in the afternoon on 6 July, Risna Utami was a lead discussant for the roundtable on “Thinking ahead: emerging issues that will matter in the future.” Risna spoke on behalf of persons with disabilities and older persons. She emphasized that as a woman with a disability from Indonesia that the inclusion of the most marginalized populations in the world in sustainable development, especially in the global South, is an emerging issue. In particular, the most disproportionately affected groups, including persons with disabilities and older persons need to be included as they are still largely left behind and excluded from development.

Alt="Risna Utami as a lead discussant at the HLPF"

Risna Utami as a lead discussant at the HLPF

Final points


Next steps

It will be critical to remind Member States to implement the post-2015 outcome after September. The HLPF will monitor the global follow-up and review of the future development framework. It is not yet clear exactly how this will be formulated, but the HLPF will play an important role in this process and thus the inclusion and active participation of persons with disabilities is essential for an inclusive framework that indeed leaves no one behind.

Alt="Great teamwork! Risna and me at the UN"

Great teamwork! Risna and me at the UN