The Role of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) “has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs,” according to the Sustainable Development Goals site page dedicated to the HLPF. The HLPF meets annually under the Economic and Social Council and meets every four years under the General Assembly (“High-Level Political Forum”). Notably, the Forum asks member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven” (“High-Level Political Forum”). These national reviews are used by the HLPF when they conduct their review process (“High-Level Political Forum”). The HLPF works well in the sense that it allows countries to conduct their own, voluntary reviews that are used as the basis for the Forum’s review. This allows for experts, government organizations, and civil society organizations to participate in the specific country’s Voluntary National Review. Further, this allows for the report to be grounded in the country’s specific context, which is often left out in development discourse that traditionally imposes the West’s perception of global development. Country context is essential to assessing the progress of the SDGs. The HLPF could be improved to promote inclusive sustainable development by implementing accountability measures for those members on the Forum. How are these members chosen for the Forum? Do these members represent the diversity of both the SDGs (including experts on poverty, education, water, energy, etc.) and the member states (including representation from different countries in different regions)? 

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Global Framework Limitations and Opportunities

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were the first of their kind as a global framework, goals approach for global development. Created in 2000, the MDGs sought to eradicate poverty, hunger, achieve primary education, promote education gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat common disease, ensure environmental sustainability and develop global partnership to achieve the MDGs. All the MDGs were grand challenges that were measurable, timebound, and pushed forward by the United Nations. However, the MDGs had extreme limitations, marked by the fact that by the year 2015 none of the goals were achieved. Although the MDGs were good intentioned, had widespread international support and multilateral engagement, as well as targets that were comprehensive it simply did not have the power of sanction to achieve these goals. They also did not change the discourse on development.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the predecessor to the MDGs. There are 17 SDGs that build upon the MDGs and are more comprehensive, inclusive, as well as timebound, quantifiable and measurable targets and indicators, and forwarded by the United Nations. In many respects the SDGs built and learned from the MDGs failings to try and achieve these grand challenge goals. The support for the SDGs is widespread from countries, nongovernmental actors, and industry actors as well however, the same issues of achieving the goals, sanction to achieve the goals, and changing discourse on development may not be attainable. Arguable, the SDGs have started new discourse and reshaped how development discourse is being formulated but achievability and the authority to do so are still not in reach. According to the 2019 UN SDG Progress Report, all 17 SDGs are not on track to be achieved by the year 2030 and the UN still lacks the authority to go about achieving these goals in every country.

So is it just better to have more timebound, grand challenge goals rather than no global framework at all to address these grand challenges? I would argue that is better to have something rather than nothing. We must keep in mind that this goals approach framework from the UN is relatively new, since 2000 and would feasibly require a learning curve of some sort to increase desired results for success. The MDGs were a test run and the SDGs are the better next steps to the MDGs. If the SDGs are not achieve another set of goals will precede it filling in the gaps were the SDGs did not succeed and so on. With nothing in place there would be no framing for the world to look to and address these grand challenges together and I believe that even if slow it is vital to keep and have to forward sustainable development of any sort.

The MDGs as a Tool for International Betterment

The United Nations has had several successes and failures since its development in 1945. As a whole, the United Nations still has a major international presence and sets the tone for the issues the global community must focus on. However, sometimes it seems the politics of the United Nations makes it its own enemy. Nevertheless, the United Nations exists to make the world a better place and it seems to be keeping that promise. Continue reading

How applicable are global frameworks to local issues?

After my presentation yesterday, I did a lot of thinking about how international frameworks are difficult to apply to local, municipal issues. These frameworks are usually broad and have no enforcement mechanisms. They are basically suggestions to countries and national governments for what they should or shouldn’t do.

Local governance is much different. Policies are specific, applied to certain segments of society, industry and the economy. They vary based on where they are located and what the people they affect need. International frameworks have little to no use in these cases because they are so non-specific and are not created to be used in a local context.

Although both of these governance levels are very different and are difficult to fit together, they do interact with each other in positive ways. Especially in regards to ensuring that PWD have their rights protected and advocated for, international conventions and agreements can serve as important starting points for the development of local policies. For example, the CRPD includes a comprehensive vision of governance, at any level, that provides for an anticipates the needs of PWD in a diverse range of settings that can be applied to different regions and governance structures.

So how do we bring these two very different governance mechanisms together? How to we bring the grand challenges at the international level to the local stage? The UN notes that the role of municipal governments in regards to international frameworks is implementation and enforcement. This is a vital part of the realization of international conventions like the CRPD because the UN and other global governance institutions are unable to put their policies into practice in local settings. Local governments enforce global treaties into their structure through adding them to their constitutions, bill of rights, or some other law. Another important role of local governments in the application of international frameworks is the monitoring of their effectiveness and implementation.

While international frameworks are sometimes hard to pare down into tangible goals for municipal and local governments, they play a vital role in providing the baseline on which these governments should base their tailored policies and laws off of. International frameworks are also helpful in that they are flexible enough to serve as building blocks for a vast range of areas instead of being rigidly contained in a small area of specific rules that must be adhered to.

Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

Global Strategic Frameworks like the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals are important pieces in the puzzle of development because they are good for marketing ideas internationally and setting a standard for where the world should head, but it is essential that we examine their limitations for inclusive development. Continue reading

Opportunities and Limitations of Global Strategic Frameworks

Global Strategic Frameworks like the MDGs and SDGs are important tools in garnering international attention and support for inclusive sustainable development. Yet, it is important to recognize their challenges and limitations.

The Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) aimed to eradicate poverty around the world and were successful in starting the conversation surrounding global sustainable development on international, national, and local levels. Despite their clear goals, targets, and indicators, the MDGs had many challenges. As discussed in our first two class sessions, the MDGs had a one-size-fits-all approach to development that lacked consideration of cultural, political, and historical contexts as well as the lack of inclusivity in its goals, targets, and indicators. Moreover, the MDGs did not specifically consider the almost one billion people in the world with disabilities in the conversation regarding development.In addition, they assumed that all countries would be able to achieve all goals 100% at the end of the timeline. Lastly, the goals lacked an inclusive approach by not including disability-inclusive goals.

At the conclusion of the MDGs, the United Nations General Assembly convened a High-level Meeting on Disability and Development with the theme titled “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond.” THis UNGA High-level meeting brought together international leaders to highlight core principles and values, which resulted in support for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as the MDGs, but emphasized the need for disability-inclusive development goals moving forward. The next development agenda had the opportunity to meet the needs of persons with disabilities, which ultimately resulted in the Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030).  Similar to the CRPD, the SDGs are strongly rooted in a human rights framework that promotes the rights of persons with disabilities in development. The SDGs expanded the 8 broad goals of the MDGs from 8 to 17. They also introduced more participation from NGOs and other non-state actors, as well as allowed for each country to be flexible in which goals they focused on, which depends on their context and needs. Most critically, they brought inclusivity to the forefront of sustainable development.

Looking at the challenges to these global frameworks, many countries view the SDGs and similar frameworks as ways to evaluate and rank their countries, rather than being viewed as a working goal. Similarly, global strategic frameworks can appear to be too theoretical. In other words, those struggling with basic needs may view these goals as too abstract and not as realistic. Despite these challenges, global strategic frameworks are important in guiding the world towards inclusive sustainable development.

Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were two strong efforts to increase development in all areas. While the SDGs are still in force, the MDGs have concluded, providing the valuable possibility of evaluating the opportunities provided by this framework, as well as its limitations. Continue reading

Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

While reviewing the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it essential to recognize the incredible progress that has been made for development on the international, domestic, and local levels. However, it is also important to identify where the MDGs have missed their targets and how global responses, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and other global strategies, have been implemented to mitigate the MDGs’ shortcomings.

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Global Strategic Frameworks

The Global Strategic Framework that exists for the SDGs has made more room for participation of NGOs and specifically disability-focused organizations, however there is still progress to be made to achieve effective multi-stakeholder participation at a global level. The MDGs provided a good jumping point for improvement with the SDGs, but it must be recognized some of the significant flaws and barriers that existed within the MDG framework. Continue reading

Opportunities and Limitations in Global Strategic Frameworks

The Millennium Development Goals were established at the Millennium Summitof the United Nations in 2000. At the summit, eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established, forming an internationally agreed upon blueprint for solving the world’s most pressing issues.  The eight goals were

  1. Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
  2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
  3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
  4. Reduce Child Mortality
  5. Improve Maternal Health
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and other Diseases
  7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
  8. Global Partnership for Development

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