Development, SDGs and the HLPF

According to Amartya Sen, development is the expansion of citizen capabilities through increasing access and opportunities. There are various stakeholders and aspects needed in order to continue development within societies. Sen discusses the importance of discussion, criticisms, and debates as a method of democracy that encourages constant reform. Furthermore, Acemoglu and Robinson state that the reasons for country’s lack of development lie in their inability to create incentives for institutions to save. As a result, the United Nations has developed methods of ensuring the increased opportunities and capabilities are given to various citizens. One of the most well-known methods is the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals


The 2030 Sustainable Development goals are meant to be adopted by countries in order to end poverty, sustainability efforts on the planet, and to aid marginalized groups. Each goal is outlined with methods of measuring the success of each country and specific targets. In order to hold accountability and make sure countries are working towards targets, the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was created. It further provided guidance on how countries can include multiple stakeholders such as governments, the private sector, civil society and other affected parties. The HLPF has an annual timeline up to 2030, and includes the various SDGs each year is currently focussing on.


One main issue I have with the HLPF guideline is that is extremely vague. Each SDG can be applicable to all countries. However, countries are at various points, and inequalities cannot be ignored. For instance, although a country in the global north and south have made efforts to increase green energy, countries in the global south may feel that poverty alleviation may be more important. As a result, they may not have the same timeline as the global north, who has already significantly decreased poverty. It would be interesting to see if the HLPF were able to further break down their timeline across the regions, taking their needs and abilities into account and then establishing a timeline that would best suit that region’s interest.


Furthermore, it is important to understand the intersectionalities within the SDGs. For instance, reducing inequalities intersects with reducing gender equality, quality education, and peace justice and stronger institutions. No poverty and zero hunger also largely intersect. While it is clear that the United Nations has separated these developmental goals because they are different in scope, it is important the the HLPF and other UN bodies work together to establish how the intersectionality of these development goals can be utilized in order to propel countries in achieving annual and millennial goals.  Overall SDGs and the HLPF confront Grand Challenges head on and have developed a collaborative approach to working towards creating a stronger, interdependent world. 

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