This year, the 2022 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) concluded with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration that strongly reaffirms commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, “recognizing it as the blueprint for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerating the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development, leaving no one behind.”
HLPF 2022 conducted an in-depth review of SDGs 4 (quality education), 5 (gender equality), 14 (life below water), 15 (life on land), and 17 (partnerships for the Goals).
The integrated, indivisible, and interlinked nature of the Goals, and the consideration of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and building back better in that light, was an important underlying theme throughout the meeting.
Forty-four countries presented their voluntary national reviews (VNRs), sharing experiences, successes, challenges, and lessons learned.
On the last day of the HLPF, delegates adopted a 142-paragraph Ministerial Declaration that Member States had negotiated over a period of six months. The 2022 HLPF Ministerial Declaration reaffirms: that “eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge”; the “importance of achieving global food security”; and that “there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.” It contains dedicated sections on the impact of COVID-19 on the 2030 Agenda and actions to recover better while accelerating progress towards the SDGs, Goals under in-depth review and VNRs, “other priority issues,” and “our road map for the way forward.”
HLPF 2022 convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from 5-7 and from 11-18 of July at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Several hundred side events, special events, VNR Labs, and exhibitions took place in person and online. The HLPF was attended by six Heads of State and Government, more than 130 deputy prime-ministers, ministers, and vice-ministers, as well as other representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society.
11 July 2022
RDFG participated in the Women’s Major Group Color Campaign with each day being assigned a different color to advocate for various feminist lines of action. We advocated for feminist climate justice (yellow), protecting human rights defenders (green), and putting an end to militarism, colonialism, and occupation (blue).
We wore these colors of feminist advocacy during HLPF main sessions, side and special events, and VNRs to urge member states, delegations, and ministers to adopt policies that ensure true gender inclusion, quality education, and sustainable livelihoods for all.
Women’s Major Group Morning Caucus 11 July 2022
While advocating for feminist climate justice now, we observed the Voluntary National Review Sessions of Togo and Uruguay. The protection of the environment is at the heart of Togo’s priorities. Togo’s VNR highlighted their problems with coastal erosion and their implemented coastal protection program. On a similar note, Uruguay renewed their commitment to include environmental and climate justice in public policy. In terms of social policies, gender development has always been on Uruguay’s agenda. Some of their initiative-areas to achieve SDG 5 include: divorce, professional development, and political participation.
Advocating for climate justice during VNRs 11 July 2022
Wearing yellow for feminist climate justice and attending the Voluntary National Reviews of Togo and Uruguay left us with hope approaching the SDG Summit in September 2023, but they also reminded us of the need for imminent climate action on local, national and global levels. The necessity of unity and solidarity in approaching climate policy is evermore evident now.
12 July 2022
Women’s Major Group Morning Caucus 12 July 2022
While advocating for the protection of human rights defenders, we attended the only HLPF main session completely planned and facilitated by civil society: “Vision of civil society: Leaving no one behind in recovering better”. Some of the main advocacy points that emerged from the session were the issue of volunteering as the only way to fully implement SDGs, the role of volunteers and civil society, volunteers connecting communities with governments, and most importantly the overarching need to drastically change the system from the inside.
One aspect of SDG action and implementation that arose during the session and that we must always remember is that “sustainability is not possible without civil society”. We must move forward envisioning climate justice and gender equality as crucial components to achieving the SDGs. The civil society session emphasized that peace, development, and sustainable society are not possible without civil society.
Pañuelos verdes (green scarves) for reproductive rights
RDGF also observed the Voluntary National Review sessions of Latvia, Philippines, Switzerland, Argentina, Ghana, The Gambia, Belarus, and Eswatini.
The Gambia’s VNR particularly stood out in their commitment to inclusion and participation in their consultations with all stakeholders. They presented improvements in SDG 4 with an increased access to quality education, as well as efforts to ensure gender equality in primary education. They saw increases in registration and completion of early childhood education as a result of their SDG implementation. The Gambia sees the empowerment of women and girls through policies as a national priority, so much so that they established the Council on Women and Children. The Gambia is also committed to mobilization in financing the country’s development needs, their youth empowerment program with a particular emphasis on those without education, and taking next steps towards mainstreaming the SDGs and green recovery.
The Philippines VNR 12 July 2022
While wearing green and advocating for the protection of human rights defenders, we recognized the work done by the governments of Argentina and The Gambia in particular in upholding their commitment to the achievement of gender equality in their national initiatives and exploring the policy and implementation synergies between SDG 5 and the other SDGs.
13 July 2022
RDFG attended The Gambia’s side event: “Implementation of SDG5 through Social and Empowerment Initiatives for Women in The Gambia.” The speakers included: Ambassador Mr. Lang Yabou; Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Hon. Ms. Fatou Kinteh; Exec. Director of UN Women, Ms. Sima Sami Bahous; UNCDF Deputy Exec. Secretary, Mr. Xavier Michon; UNFPA Deputy Exec. Director, Ms. Diene Keita; Governor of Central Bank of The Gambia, Mr. Buah Saidy; UN Resident Coordinator in The Gambia, Ms. Seraphine Wakana.
RDFG’s seat at the #HLPFGAMBIA roundtable 13 July 2022
UNCDF Deputy Exec. Secretary: Mr. Xavier Michon cited the opening video that said: “Don’t give me the fish, but teach me how to fish”. This was the main takeaway from this session. The Gambia addresses challenges of climate justice, gender inequality, and access to education through policy. Their policies are aimed at achieving gender parity in primary and secondary levels of education. Hon. Ms. Fatou Kinteh introduced the Women Economic Forum (WEF), a new initiative to provide financial assistance and loans to all women in The Gambia.
Considering that most women work in the informal sector, The Gambia’s approach to women’s economic empowerment is inspiring and hopeful. Economic empowerment of women is synonymous with their independence. On this note, UNFPA Deputy Exec. Director, Ms. Diene Keita, also mentioned that “this year’s CSocD showed the economic inequality of informal work”.
On this day, we wore blue to advocate for the end of militarism, colonialism, and occupation. This session reminded us of the importance of gender equality and women empowerment in implementing systemic changes to fully eradicate all inequalities.
RDFG at HLPF ECOSOC Ministerial Opening 13 July 2022
RDFG was an observer at the ECOSOC Ministerial Segment Opening. Speakers included: Secretary General, Antonio Guterres; President of 76th session of GA, Abdulla Shahid; President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi; President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa; Chinese Minister of Ecology and Environment, Huang Ruiqiu; President of COP26, Alok Sharma; Executive director of UN Women, Ms. Sima Sami Bahous.
Secretary General Antonio Gutierres reminded us that “we need a system that works for the vulnerable, not the powerful”. He urged member states and all stakeholders that we must change course of emission levels, as we are headed towards “mass suicide”.
Moving forward from HLPF, we must consider the best practices discussed during the VNRs as well as local initiatives in approaching truly inclusive policies that can ensure climate recovery, gender equality, and the eradication of inequalities to ensure comprehensively sustainable livelihoods for all.
Gillian and Sofia at HLPF 2022