HLPF 2020: policy recommendations to governments

2 July 2020


The annual High Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) is the core United Nations platform for reviewing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. GNDR will be communicating it’s policy recommendations via HLPF Official Side Events, Special Events, VNR Labs, Learning Sessions and through our online channels throughout the forum.

Taking place on 7-16 July, the HLPF will be a critical opportunity to discuss where we stand on the SDGs in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Participants will reflect on how the international community can respond to the pandemic in a way that puts us back on track to achieve the goals and accelerate progress during the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.

We call on governments to integrate risk into all sectors and all levels of society.

National governments should work to strengthen understanding of all aspects of risk and acknowledge that without resilience building, SDGs will not be achieved.

As we are seeing during this Covid-19 pandemic, disasters have a disproportionate impact on communities living in poverty. Sustainable development can only be achieved when local risk is fully understood. Levels of risk are determined by the threats people face, their vulnerability, and their capacities.

When development is not risk-informed, far from offering progress, this so-called ‘development’ is actually creating risk, increasing existing risk and wiping out any potential gains.

Governments need to ensure they implement global frameworks with a coherent approach, to ensure development is risk-informed: at the local level there is integration, at the national level there is coordination, at the international level there is communication and alignment.

The pandemic shows that risk cuts across all the three dimensions of sustainable development as outlined in the Agenda 2030: economic, social and environmental. Hence, cross-sectoral solutions are essential to avoid further cascading effects of this disaster.

Risk assessments must map the multi-faceted nature of risk, and take into consideration all threats and underlying causes of risk experienced by communities: WHO recommends risk analysis and mapping of vulnerable populations as a step for preparedness and response.

All development actors need to initiate a structural change towards risk-informed development, starting from the national and local development plans and DRR strategies: they need to ensure integration among all sectors of government and all levels of society.

National governments should focus on supporting local action as the only way to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

By virtue of being those most at risk, local actors must be enabled to participate, influence and take decisions on risk-informed development policies and practices. They have critical knowledge and experience of the threats they face and the actions which would help to reduce existing risks.

Supporting local actions means enhancing localisation:

  1. Stronger capacities, knowledge and skills of communities most at risk
  2. Effective governance systems that delegate authority and budget
  3. Enabling policy environment at national and global level
  4. Linking local to national but also horizontally across sectors
  5. Transferring financial resources to local actors

Covid-19 shows we are increasingly reliant on local actors for resilience building hence they should have increased representation in decision-making forums.

In many countries local actors such as CSOs have been the first responders to the Covid-19 pandemic, reaching communities where national government often cannot reach. These are groups who are traditionally excluded from the decision-making process and are not empowered to effectively lead their own resilience building.

This increased reliance on local actors must result in an increased representation in coordination and decision-making forums.

There is a need to transform the way society interacts and place greater emphasis on citizens disproportionately impacted by disasters.

We need to enhance collaboration and solidarity among multiple actors so that we are able to work together effectively across countries and continents and build a global movement for transformative change. The current pandemic makes this even more pressing.

Civil society organisations around the world are responding to this disaster on the ground and building a wealth of knowledge that need not be wasted. CSO networks can provide support to governments wanting to learn from communities most at risk and local CSOs and engage them in the recovery process.

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