The Promise of Action – Opening Day at the HLPF 2018

A report from Day One by SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen.

The UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), opened on Monday 9 July 18 July. SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, SI Director of Advocacy Bev Bucur and the SI UN Representatives, New York, joined more than a thousand government, business and civil society leaders to discuss progress made by countries towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

On Day One, SI President Mariet Verhoef-Cohen was present at the 1st Meeting: Opening and Scene setting: How far have we come on the SDGs?

Photo: Marie Chatardova, President of United Nations Economic and Social Council

“Marie Chatardova, President of United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNECOSOC), presided over the meeting and Liu Zhenmin, Under Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs delivered the opening remarks. Determining the HLPF as a time of reflection but also for action, he said: “It has been three years since world leaders committed to end poverty and hunger, to protect our planet, to foster peaceful societies, and to unleash economic, social and technological progress –and in implementing this vision they committed to reach those furthest behind”. He noted that although forms of discrimination of women have declined, gender equality still holds women back and although many people are living better lives than they were ten years ago, drought and disasters linked to climate change and surging conflicts in parts of the world, are hindering faster progress.

Photo: Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University

In his keynote speech, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University described the SDGs as achievable, but not yet achieved, and that the biggest obstacle is greed. He said their were enough resources in the world for everyone to live free of poverty, and it wouldn’t take a major effort from the rich countries to help the poor countries. He spoke of constant opposition from food industries and oil companies, of unsustainable supply chains and the power held by corporations.

In world rankings conducted by his team and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Sweden shines bright at the top of the table in its achievement and implementation of the SDGs. The top ten performers are notably from Europe, with the US falling short in 35th place. The Professor has seen a correlation between happiness and the effective implementation of the Global Goals. Clearly it makes sense that clean and safe energy, access to health care and quality education can improve happiness. He spoke of the obstacles of tax havens, tax evasion and off shore accounts and the financing gap. There are 2208 billionaires worth 9.1 trillion dollars – if they gave just 1% of their net worth each year it would total 90 billion dollars –  every child could go to school and health for all.

Alex Steffen, futurist and expert in sustainability, kept his message simple and singular. One presentation slide and one message. He pinpointed speed as the solution not the problem. He spoke of people around the world delivering social progress and innovation, of being on the edge of a moment, a breakthrough, the cusp of massive change. He spoke of two economies – one sustainable and one not. Of inherent conflicts between the past, the older economies and of the unsustainable solutions delaying sustainable innovation and change. He spoke of speeding up the deployment of solutions and disrupting the powers that seek to hold new sustainable solutions back, in order to propel and ‘snap forward’, interrupting unsustainable competition”.


Find out more at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2018

Programme at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2018#programme

Voluntary National Reviews at: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/vnrs/


SI President, Mariet Verhoef-Cohen will be closing the Side Event Are women meaningfully involved in implementing SDG 6+ in the national plans? on 12 July, 13:15 – 14:30pm at the UN Headquarters Conference Room 8. The event is organised by the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the UN, Women for Water Partnership and contributors: Soroptimist International, International Federation of Business and Professional Women, NGO coordination Commission on the Status of Women.

View the Concept Note for Are women meaningfully involved in implementing SDG 6+ in the national plans? HERE

View the Invitation for Are women meaningfully involved in implementing SDG 6+ in the national plans? HERE


Lead image: UN Women/Ryan Brown – Scenes from the launch event for the new global monitoring report, “Turning promises into action: Gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” held in New York on 14 February 2018.

View the report at http://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2018/2/gender-equality-in-the-2030-agenda-for-sustainable-development-2018

Lead image Courtesy of UN Women can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/unwomen/25416183407/in/album-72157693463968495/

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