Summary: The SDGS follow the MDG’s positives while improving on sustainability and inclusivity targets. The High-Level Political Forum is an important mechanism for adding and element of inclusivity to discussion of the SDGs. People with disabilities must be included in the discussion for the SDGs to succeed.
The Sustainable Development Goals were created to continue the positive change made from the Millennium Development Goals while adding elements of sustainability and inclusivity. The MDGs did not mention disability once, while the SDGs mention disability eleven times. The SDGs still have the clear goals, targets, and indicators that garnered praise for the MDGs, while also including references and specific goals related to environmental sustainability and inclusion of various groups, including those with disabilities. Everything that is in the SDGs was negotiated. The references to disability didn’t just come out of nowhere; they were fought for by actors such as states and NGOs.
To enhance the holistic integration of the SDGs, the High-Level Political Forum was created. The HLPF is considered the most inclusive forum at the UN and allows many interest groups to participate in decision-making. These groups are called “Major Groups” and include nine specific interests relevant to sustainable development.
The major groups are: women, children and youth, indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, trade unions and workers, business and industry, the scientific and technological community, and farmers. There is no major group for people with disabilities, which is problematic because people with disabilities deserve to have the choice and ability to contribute to the discussion by adding more inclusive language and providing their unique perspective to inclusive, sustainable development. However, since there is no ‘major group’ for those with disabilities, the other groups must look at issues in an intersectional manner. Instead of there being one group for the interests of people with disabilities, all nine major groups must think about disability inclusion.
The major groups have the ability to weigh in on language and decisions by speaking and issuing documents. However, their participation is still limited. States continue to have the most power. Thus, these major groups must be organized and focused. Though the major groups aren’t equal to states, it’s still incredibly important that the mechanism for their participation exists in the HLPF. For Grand Challenges like the Sustainable Development Goals to succeed, it is imperative that all stakeholders participate in discussion and contribute their perspectives to the goals, targets, and indicators.