The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) that will take place in 2018 will review Goals 6, 7, 11, 12 and 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals. While Goal 11 of the SDGs is about inclusive and sustainable city, the theme of the Ninth World Urban Forum (WUF9) in 2018 will be “Cities 2030, Cities for All: Implementing the New Urban Agenda.” WUF9 is not only taking place in the same year as the HLPF 2018 on the same theme, it will also examine how implementation of the New Urban Agenda (NUA) can contribute to realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. This is why the HLPF is an important platform to assess and evaluate the SDGs: It examines a different set of goals each year and encourages other global strategic frameworks to connect with the goals. In order to address “Grand Challenges” that are faced by the global community, effective coordination of resources, efforts and information is vital.
The HLPF can become a more effective platform for sustainable inclusive development if it can take the initiatives to include other global strategic frameworks as part of the discussion. It is true that the SDGs may be seen as an overarching document that leads the direction for global policy-making. So the other international documents about specific aspects of development, such as the NUA, would follow the lead of the SDGs. It is not surprising that WUF9, which will be held to evaluate implementation of the NUA, tries to meet spirits of the SDGs. NUA and SDGs can complement each other and help move each other forward. But the initiatives of recognizing the overlap need to be mutual. Since HLPF 2018 will take place in July after WUF9, HLPF can incorporate discussion on NUA and SDGs into its examination over Goal 11.
While the NUA pertains to a specific goal of the SDGs, other international documents might have less focused and specific connections with the SDGs. Outcomes of World Summit on the Information Society are connected to SDGs in many ways, although they are hard to be narrowed down to one goal like the link between Goal 11 and NUA. The International Telecommunication Union has created the WSIS-SDG Matrix to present importance of ICT in inclusive sustainable development. This is a tool that can be utilized by the HLPF to evaluate progress in implementation of SDGs and to provide suggestions for next steps.
Both WUF9 and WSIS present opportunities of effective coordination of resources and knowledge across frameworks. Whether it’s a framework that can be applied to one goal or one that can be applied across all 17 goals, HLPF can become a more efficient process if it also takes the initiatives to include work of other global strategic frameworks and actors.