Vague promises won't solve global crises

Press Statement

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On 16 July, this year's virtual UN High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development came to an end. The HLPF is the premier UN body to monitor the annual progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated inequalities and further endangered development gains already at risk prior to the global pandemic. Millions of people globally are already suffering from hunger and poverty and now lives and livelihoods are threatened as a result of the vast socio-economic effects of COVID-19. Among the objectives of the 2020 HLPF includes identifying how the international community can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that will support achievement of the SDGs in the remaining "Decade of Action" to go until 2030. But the fact that Member States failed to adopt a strong Ministerial Declaration is extremely disappointing and does not match the enormous challenges ahead.

"The HLPF continues to be among the most attended of all UN meetings, with participation from Member States, civil society and the corporate sector", says Barbara Adams, President of Global Policy Forum in New York. "However, the quantity in participation and profile is not matched by the quality of actions and policy commitments from Member States to ensure the transformation all agree is needed." During the HLPF only "a sequence of airy promises" were made "which are no adequate response to the global crisis", according to Global Policy Forum's director Jens Martens.

All this is in sharp contrast to the call for coordinated, multilateral action from UN Secretary-General António Guterres. According to him, a minimum of 10 percent of the Global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) - approximately 9 billion USD - would be needed to finance such an effort. Martens: "This is another lost day for global multilateralism – in a situation, where it would be needed more than ever."

The lack of concrete political action also reflects the limited mandate of the HLPF, which is restricted to a plethora of reports and reviews. Civil society organizations like the Global Policy Forum are therefore demanding to strengthen the HLPF substantially or to replace it by a stronger body with more competencies under the auspices of the UN General Assembly. Member States started a HLPF review process last year, but decisions are postponed to next year. "Member States have it in their power to correct these weaknesses by transforming the UN from a stage on which to perform into a political space in which to be held accountable", says Barbara Adams, GPF.

For interview requests or further questions please contact:

Barbara Adams at barbaraadams(at)





HLPF: The High-level Political Forum is the central UN body for global sustainable development, open to all 193 Member States as well as to civil society organizations. It is mainly in charge of monitoring the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To that aim, Member States present so called Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. This year, 47 countries submitted their reports.

GPF: Global Policy Forum is an independent policy watchdog that monitors the work of the United Nations and scrutinizes global policymaking. GPF promotes accountability and citizen participation in decisions on peace and security, human rights, social justice and sustainable development. One of its main programmes is Global Policy Watch (GPW), a joint initiative of Social Watch and Global Policy Forum. It aims to keep members of global civil society informed about crucial global negotiations in the areas of financing for development, sustainable development, and UN reform.

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