SDGs and the HLPF

Although much progress was made by the MDGs in terms of reducing poverty, with their expiration in 2015, the SDGs were adopted with a much more ambitious agenda. Not only do they look to end poverty rather than just reduce it, but they also make it a point to specifically advance where the MDGs fell short (Class Lecture). Another strong point of the SDGs is that they are much more detailed and focused which makes it easier to plan and oversee their implementation. With clear targets and indicators in place, oversight will be much more effective since there will be little confusion in regards to the goals and how they must be measured. However, one of the most important features of this new vision for the world we want is the fact that in the SDGs unlike in the MDGs, people with disabilities are specifically referenced eleven times within the document and a couple of the goals are explicitly relevant to their needs. Nevertheless, while this is a victory for the disabled community, it is only the first step towards the ultimate goal of having people with disabilities mentioned and included in everything else moving forward. The small victory is good for now, but it is not enough. In order for our world to develop in the way it should be at this point in time, more attention needs to be directed towards ensuring that people with disabilities are included into every aspect of life, because despite this advancement, traditional stereotypes of people with disabilities still consciously and unconsciously exist and in turn affect their wellbeing (Rimmerman).

As with all goals that are put in place, the critical part is implementation and the overseeing of that process. The unit in charge of overseeing the implementation of the SDGs is the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). However, there is one major issue with the forum and that is the barriers it has to inclusion despite claiming to be the “most inclusive and participatory forum at the UN”. At least the major groups were finally expanded to include PWDs, which is a major victory but again not enough. Nevertheless, it is great to see the progress that is being made to include and acknowledge people with disabilities. Although it might be slow, it is moving in the right direction and that is all we can ask for.