Sustainable Development Goals and the High-level Political Forum

This week, we talked about the sustainable development goals and the high-level political forum. In this post, I discuss what the SDGs are, who the actors are that implement them and shape them, and the HLPF. I end with discussing what specific SDGs relate to my capstone project on inclusive recreation. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The SDGs build on the MDGS, while pursuing a more comprehensive approach to economic, social, and environmental issues, showing us that these topics are all interrelated. There are several differences between the SDGs and the MDGs: 1) The SDGs provide clear goals, targets, and indicators, while the MDGs were seen as vague and 2) The SDGs are more universally applicable, removing the “developing” and “developed” dichotomy of the MDGs.

The United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was established in 2012. The HLPF was part of the agreement following the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development with the aim to strengthen Sustainable Development governance. For example, it provides political leadership and recommendations for sustainable development and reviews progress in implementing the SDGs. Major Groups and other stakeholders (MGoS) also play a vital role in the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. The UN facilitates participation through these groups, including women, indigenous peoples, farmers, and business and industry.

The SDGs and the UN’s sustainable development goals in general reflect our discussion where we talked about development theory and in particular, Sen’s theory on development as freedom. The SDGs do not pursue economic development solely; it also tackles social, political, and environmental issues. The SDGs do consist of ending poverty and reducing economic inequalities, but it also deals with clean water and sanitation, quality education, responsible consumption and production, peace, justice, and strong institutions, among other goals that are not founded only on economic development.

There are several criticisms of the SDGs as well. Some believe that there are too many goals and that it’s hard to prioritize one goal over the other or to pursue combinations of goals at the same time, it’s very costly to achieve most of the SDGs and not practical or feasible for many countries, and that some of the goals are contradictory.

Specifically, my project relates to SDG #3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG #10 (Reduced Inequalities), and SDG #11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). Making recreation in urban settings more inclusive and accessible (#11) would ultimately reduce health inequalities (#10) in order to promote healthy lifestyles through physical activity and mental well being (#3). As we can see, my topic is a cross-cutting issue, as are most of the SDGs, that requires a holistic approach when considering strategies and policies.