HLPF Major Groups and other Stakeholders Coordination Mechanism Statement on Conclusion of HLPF 2018*

This statement, by the High Level Political Forum Major Groups and other Stakeholders Coordination (of which WaterAid is a member), was issued on 18 July ahead of the HLPF Ministerial Declaration.

The 2030 Agenda is premised on the recognition of mutual dependence of environmental, economic and social sustainability. As representatives of the Major Groups and other Stakeholders (MGoS), we know that a rights-based and planet-sensitive approach is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. However, Member States’ statements in the lead-up to the 2018 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) reveal insufficient ambition and a lack of commitment to overcome the obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Closed-door, bilateral negotiations and inability to reach consensus replay the script from previous years, ignoring the urgent need for greater ambition and concrete commitments, matched by policies that are effectively and equitably implemented.

We insist that justice guide all spheres of action towards achieving the 2030 Agenda, to ensure the fulfillment of human rights, protection of rights of nature, and the true realization of the principle of ‘leaving no one behind’ through data disaggregation and the full inclusion participation of all people, in particular those most excluded and discriminated against. We insist, therefore, on the meaningful inclusion and participation of stakeholders in the implementation, monitoring and review of the 2030 Agenda, including in the elaboration of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). We are concerned that the HLPF provides no mandate for parallel or ‘shadow’ reports, nor meaningful space for real dialogue on how the VNR reports can lead to real change to overcome obstacles identified.

In contrast to the limitations of our participation as MGoS, the HLPF throws its door open to the private sector and heralds it as the solution to achieving the SDGs. This obfuscates the detrimental effects of corporate behavior, such as the privatization of common goods and public services. Public investment, with its primary objective of contributing to the public good, presents the most appropriate instrument to design and implement the 2030 Agenda and its objectives, and we call on governments to assume ownership of SDG implementation and to enact the regulatory and policy frameworks required to enable the private sector to contribute to fulfillment of human rights and nationally defined objectives, within the context of progressive taxation under the remit of a global intergovernmental tax body. The SDGs require inclusive approaches, such as the “Just Transition”, bringing communities, governments, workers and employers into dialogue to drive the concrete plans, policies and investments needed for environmentally sustainable and socially responsible societies, within planetary boundaries.

As we look toward the 2019 HLPF at heads-of-state level and the beginning of the review of its modalities, we express our serious concerns that this platform is proving insufficient to meet the expectations of its role in implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the 2030 Agenda and other sustainable development commitments, or of the crises of the larger global structures in which the HLPF attempts to intervene. We rededicate ourselves to ensuring the clarion call of justice is louder than the voices of entrenched power; and that our energy and commitment will counteract the forces of complacency that have so ensnared the democratic, multilateral system.We call on governments to use the space of the HLPF to meaningfully advance the political aspirations of the 2030 Agenda through leadership and political guidance, honest acknowledgments of challenges faced, and concrete indications that political, local, economic, social, and environmental paradigms will shift towards the protection of ecosystems and bio-cultural diversity, and the realization of human rights and dignity for all.

*The Business and Industry Major Group has disassociated itself from this statement.