The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held this year for the second time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the UN member states in 2015. In addition to the voluntary presentation of reports by 44 countries, this year’s forum also included for the first time thematic reviews on individual SDGs. The main focus of attention was on the goals relating to poverty, hunger, nutrition, health, gender equality, infrastructure, industry and innovation, and oceans and marine resources.
Led by Switzerland’s Special Envoy for Global Sustainable Development, Ambassador Michael Gerber, the interdepartmental Swiss delegation was supported by additional, non-governmental experts and took active part in the discussions. The HLPF procedures provided Switzerland with an opportunity to share its own experience in implementing the 2030 Agenda, and to learn from the countries presenting national reports. Through those exchanges, Switzerland was able to benefit, in particular, from the experience of countries that are confronted by widely similar challenges – in such areas, for example, as the mobilising of sub-national governments and the private sector for implementation of the 2030 Agenda, or the development of an efficient institutional architecture for promoting intersectoral cooperation.
Strong need for action despite positive trend
The progress report presented at the HLPF by UN Secretary-General António Guterres showed that a positive trend is clearly discernible, particularly in the areas of health and the fight against poverty and hunger. Nevertheless, much remains to be done. Today there are still some 800 million people around the world who are suffering from hunger, while in Sub-Saharan Africa more than 40 percent of the population continue to live below the international poverty line. Preserving the positive achievements of recent years will require major investment in such things as sustainable infrastructure and agricultural systems.
A continuing need for action also remains in the area of gender equality, in order to overcome the inequality and discrimination that is deeply rooted in many countries. A somewhat pessimistic picture also emerged from the progress report on Goal 14, which addresses the issue of oceans and marine resources. A primary concern is the ever-increasing deterioration in the quality of coastal waters as a result of pollution and nutrient enrichment. Climate change, moreover, is contributing to the acidification of the world’s oceans. On the positive side, some progress in slowing the trend towards overfishing was reported to have been made in recent years. The existing challenges thus remain formidable and continue to demand resolute action on the part of both developing and industrialised countries.
A Partnership Exchange event designed to strengthen partnerships between state and non-state actors and an SDG Business Forum were also held on the side-lines of the official HLPF programme. The SDG Business Forum provided an opportunity to flesh out the role of the private sector in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In addition, numerous other side events were organised by individual UN member states, international organisations and non-state actors. Two such events were organised by Switzerland: one focusing on the significance of SDG 16 (“Peaceful and inclusive societies for the promotion of sustainable development”) for the entire 2030 Agenda, the other on sustainable livestock farming. Switzerland also co-chaired a number of events on a range of other issues, including gender equality, policy coherence for sustainable development and disaster risk reduction.
Implementation of the 2030 Agenda in Switzerland
In early 2016, the federal government embarked on an interdepartmental process to implement the 2030 Agenda. The process is being coordinated by the 2030 Agenda National Working Group, under the joint direction of the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It is made up of representatives from the Federal Offices for the Environment (FOEN), Health (FOPH) and Agriculture (FOA), the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the FDFA Directorate of Political Affairs (Sectoral Foreign Policies Division) and the Federal Chancellery.
In spring 2018 the Federal Council will publish a progress report and decide how to proceed in the years ahead.
FDFA: 2030 Agenda 2030 for sustainable development
UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development
2017 Report by the Secretary-General on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
Switzerland's initial steps towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda
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