HLPF Consultations Conclude with Outcome Text

HLPF26 June 2013: The consultations to define the format and organizational aspects of the high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) concluded on 26 June 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York, US, following Member State requests for additional negotiating time. A draft resolution on the establishment of the HLPF has been agreed upon ad referendum, and outlines meeting formats, rules of procedure, participation, review mechanisms, timing and periodicity, and agenda of the forum.

Consultations between UN Member States on the HLPF have been ongoing since January 2013, co-facilitated by Cesare Maria Ragalini (Italy) and Maria Luiza Riberiro Viotti, later replaced by Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado (Brazil). Though the consultations were mandated to conclude in May 2013, they continued at an enhanced pace through June 2013. An Expert Group Meeting (EGM) between Member States, the UN Secretariat, Major Groups, and experts took place from 3-4 April 2013 to formulate thinking on institutional aspects of the forum and sustainable development. Key issues of debate among delegates throughout the consultations were: the forum's relationship to the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); participation in and outcomes of the forum's meetings; and whether the HLPF would represent a new body, process, or basic forum for meetings.

The text adopted on 26 June recalls the decision of the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) to establish a “universal, intergovernmental high-level political forum,” replacing the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), to follow up on the implementation of sustainable development, as well as UNGA resolution 67/203 to create the forum. It also recognizes the need for the UNGA to further integrate sustainable development as a key element of the overarching framework for UN activities, and ECOSOC's role in integrating the three dimensions of sustainable development.

It also decides that the HLPF shall, “consistent with its intergovernmental universal character,” provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations, enhance integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development at all levels in a cross-sectoral manner, have a focused and action-oriented agenda, and address new and emerging challenges.

The HLPF is created in a “hybrid” format, with meetings convened both under the auspices of the UNGA and under the auspices of ECOSOC. Those held under the auspices of the UNGA will follow rules of procedure of the Assembly's main committees, and those held under the auspices of ECOSOC will operate under rules of procedure of the functional commissions of the Council. The text also requests the Presidents of the UNGA and of ECOSOC to coordinate with each other's bureaux to organize the activities of the forum.

The forum will “provide for the full and effective participation of all Member States of the UN and States members of specialized agencies,” and every effort shall be made to reach consensus in its meetings, the text notes.

Meetings under the auspices of the GA are to be convened at the highest possible level, with Heads of State and Government, every four years for a period of two days at the beginning of the UNGA session. These meetings will produce a "concise negotiated political declaration."

Meetings under the auspices of ECOSOC will be convened annually for a period of eight days, with a three-day ministerial segment in the ECOSOC substantive session, which will replace the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) in 2016. In these meetings, the HLPF will review progress on the implementation of outcomes of major UN conferences and summits, improve cooperation and coordination on sustainable development within the UN, promote the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, and promote system-wide coherence of sustainable development policies. The result of the high-level segment will be a negotiated ministerial declaration for inclusion in the report of ECOSOC to the UNGA.

Starting in 2016, the ECOSOC meetings will also conduct regular reviews on the follow-up and implementation of sustainable development commitments and objectives, including the post-2015 development agenda. These reviews will be voluntary and state-led, and provide a platform for stakeholder partnerships. They will replace the National Voluntary Presentations of the AMR.

The text emphasizes that the review of UNGA resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Council, which is currently ongoing, should take into account this resolution to avoid duplication.

It is decided that meetings will devote time to sustainable development challenges of countries in special situations, particularly the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), land-locked developing countries (LLDCs), and Africa. It also invites regional commissions to contribute to the work of the forum.

The text stresses the need further enhance the consultative role and participation of Major Groups, and decides that the forum will be open to Major Groups and other relevant stakeholders and entities. Representatives of Major Groups and relevant stakeholders will be able to: attend and intervene in official meetings, have access to official documents, submit documents and present written and oral contributions, make recommendations, organize side events and round tables, and autonomously establish coordination mechanisms for participation in the forum. Contributions of Bretton Woods institutions and other relevant intergovernmental organizations also are invited.

The text decides that the forum will aim to strengthen the science-policy interface, and to consider the methodology of a global sustainable development report in 2014. It further decides that the HLPF can “provide recommendations to the board of the ten-year framework programmes for sustainable consumption and production” (10YFP on SCP) and its Secretariat, the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP).

The forum will be supported by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in cooperation with other relevant entities in the UN system, as appropriate.

A voluntary Trust Fund to facilitate participation of developing countries, LDCs, and representatives of Major Groups is requested, and it is decided that travel expenses for one representative of each LDC will be paid from the UN regular budget for participation to all formal meetings.

The first meeting of the forum is decided to be inaugural in character, for the duration of one day at the beginning of the 68th session of the UNGA. For the purpose of this inaugural meeting, the outcome with be a President's Summary. The text also recommends that the ECOSOC abolish the CSD following its 20th and last session, to be held prior to the first meeting of the forum.

It is further decided that, in UNGA 69, the need to convene a 2015 meeting of the forum in the UNGA to launch the post-2015 developing agenda will be considered.

The format and organization of the forum will be reviewed by UNGA 73, in 2018.

This text is to be presented to the UNGA, where its approval will be considered. Co-facilitator Ragalini, who will be leaving his post shortly, offered closing remarks and said the group should be proud of this first achievement after the outcome of Rio+20. He said that this is only the beginning, however, and encouraged the delegates to be “strongly engaged as a country and personally to make this achievement a success.” [IISD RS Sources] [HLPF Website] [IISD RS Story on HLPF Negotiation Extension] [IISD RS Story on HLPF Expert Group Meeting] [IISD RS Story on Beginning of HLPF Consultations] [IISD RS Story on Adoption of 67/203]