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United Nations platform

High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

Background information on HLPF

One of the central outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, was the establishment of a high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Following informal consultations led by representatives from Brazil and Italy at the United Nations in New York, the General Assembly laid down the format and organisational aspects of the HLPF in its resolution A/67/290 of 9 July 2013. According to the resolution, the HLPF is the leading intergovernmental body within the UN on issues of sustainable development with full participation of all UN member states.

The HLPF missions are:

  • to make recommendations for sustainable development;
  • to ensure improved integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, social, economic);
  • to promote and facilitate the sharing of best practices, experiences and challenges in implementing sustainable development and
  • to review the implementation of commitments in the field of sustainable development (for example Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, Rio+20 outcome document).

New challenges need to be taken into account adequately, and all UN entities, funds and programmes, civil society and major groups need to be included effectively. The HLPF will strengthen the interface between industry and politics – also in the form of a global sustainable development report by the UN.

The HLPF convenes:

  • every four years for a period of two days at the level of heads of state and government at the beginning of the session of the General Assembly and
  • annually for a period of eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment held in the framework of the substantive session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

At the end of each session, a negotiated political declaration is submitted to the General Assembly or the ECOSOC. Since its fourth meeting in July 2016, convened under the auspices of ECOSOC, the HLPF reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development on a voluntary basis with the participation of high-level government representatives. The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) hold joint lead responsibility for the HLPF within the German government.

YearTopicLevelSDGs in focusNumber of voluntary country reports
2019SDG summit at opening of UN General AssemblyGeneral Assembly--
2019Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equalityECOSOC4, 8, 10, 13, 16 und 17undecided
2018Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societiesECOSOC6, 7, 11, 12, 15 und 1747
2017Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing worldECOSOC1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 und 1743
2016Ensuring that no one is left behindECOSOC-22
2015Strengthening integration, implementation and review – the HLPF after 2015ECOSOC--
2014Achieving the MDGs and charting the way for an ambitious post-2015 development agenda, including the SDGsECOSOC--
2013Building the future we want: from Rio+20 to the Post 2015 Development AgendaECOSOC--

Past HLPF meetings

The HLPF commenced its work in an inaugural session in New York on 24 September 2013. The President of the General Assembly had the outcomes recorded in a summary. After a week-long working session, the HLPF held its first ministerial segment from 7 to 9 July 2014 to discuss how the HLPF would function from 2016 onwards. Parliamentary State Secretary Schwarzelühr-Sutter represented Germany's federal government. The outcomes of the meeting were recorded in a ministerial declaration and a summary of the President of ECOSOC. The HLPF convened again at ministerial level from 6 to 8 July 2015. In New York, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter represented the Federal Environment Ministry as she had done the previous year. In the ministerial declaration, the President of the Economic and Social Council was given a mandate to issue summaries of the ECOSOC and HLPF meetings as a contribution to the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa and the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda. The third HLPF meeting was held from 11 to 20 July 2016. Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter and Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, Thomas Silberhorn, presented the German government’s report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Both Parliamentary State Secretaries also headed the German delegation at the HLPF in 2017 (held from 10 to 19 July in New York).

HLPF meeting in July 2017

The fourth High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) convened under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from 10 to 19 July 2017 in New York. The high-level segment took place from 17 to 19 July. This year's meeting focused on "Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world". Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the HLPF continued its follow-up and review of implementation, particularly of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Last year, Germany was among the first 22 countries to submit reports on their government's first steps towards implementing the 2030 Agenda. This year, a further 44 states reported on their implementation status: Afghanistan, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Monaco, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Slovenia, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

The Ministerial Declaration made statements on the SDGs particularly relevant to this year's theme. For the first time, the 2017 HLPF meeting held in-depth discussions on some of the SDGs, namely SDG 1 – no poverty, SDG 2 – zero hunger, SDG 3 – good health and well-being, SDG 5 – gender equality, SDG 9 – industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG 14 – life below water, and SDG 17 – partnerships for the goals.

This year, the BMUB was again represented in the high-level segment by Parliamentary State Secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter. In her statement following presentations by the first reporting countries Brazil, Luxemburg and Nepal, Schwarzelühr-Sutter highlighted the importance of the HLPF for exchange and mutual learning, and stressed its value as a tool for promoting ambitious and swift implementation of the 2030 Agenda. She advocated greater inclusion of youth delegates in the reporting and more sustainability at the UN headquarters in New York.

As in 2016, Germany had a good presence at the meeting, with a broad delegation comprised of representatives of government, non-governmental organisations and associations, members of the German Bundestag, youth delegates and scientists. They also participated in a number of side events. In an address at an event by the UN alliance Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE), Schwarzelühr-Sutter spoke of the challenges of switching to more sustainable economic and financial practices. She also gave an opening statement at the well-regarded event hosted by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which focused on the recently published second SDG Index Report.

Further information


HLPF meeting in July 2016

The United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held its third meeting under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in New York from 11 to 20 July 2016 with ministerial days from 18 to 20 July. The meeting focused on the theme "Ensuring that no one is left behind." In the first year after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Forum started to review the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with a special focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Germany was one the first 22 countries to submit a report on first implementation steps of our government to conversation of the agenda. The other reporting countries were China, Colombia, Republic of Korea, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Madagascar, Morocco, Mexico, Montenegro, Norway, the Philippines, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, Uganda and Venezuela. The forum’s Ministerial Declaration commends the work accomplished by these forerunner countries. It also specifies that the Global Sustainable Development Report is to be produced every four years to inform the High-Level Political Forum convened at the level of heads of state and government under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.

As in previous years, Parliamentary State Secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter represented the German Environment Ministry in the ministerial segment of HLPF. The State Secretary and her colleague from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, Thomas Silberhorn, presented the German government’s report on implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Schwarzelühr-Sutter stressed that implementing the agenda in Germany requires additional efforts, especially with a view to achieving lifestyle change and a more sustainable economy. However, she also noted that implementing the agenda presents important opportunities for ensuring peace, environmental protection and healthier living conditions worldwide. Because representatives of Germany’s civil society contributed to the German implementation report, the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the German Trade Union Federation (DGB), the Forum on Environment and Development and the Association of German Development NGOs (VENRO) also participated in the presentation. Representatives from these organisations, members of the German Bundestag and German youth delegates for sustainable development also joined Schwarzelühr-Sutter and Silberhorn for a side event organised by the German government on Germany’s SDG implementation inside and outside the country. The event highlighted both shared and differing views on the subject. Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter placed special emphasis on the necessity for broad stakeholder involvement.

The German government has announced its plan to submit its next progress report on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda to HLPF in 2021.

Further information


HLPF meeting in July 2015

Over the past few days, during the ministerial segment of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), Parliamentary State Secretary Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter strongly advocated getting preparations underway now for the national implementation of the global Sustainable Development Goals (post 2015 Development Agenda) due to be adopted in September at the UN summit of heads of state and government.

She highlighted that the OECD countries in particular need to step up and show that they are ready and able to change their lifestyles in such a way as to ensure that the planet's ecological boundaries not exceeded.

During talks with the head negotiators for example the UN ambassadors from the US, the Russian Federation and Brazil and with high-level UN staff, Schwarzelühr-Sutter called for an effective monitoring mechanism and for communicable messages in the post 2015 Development Agenda. In future, the HLPF will monitor the implementation of the post 2015 Development Agenda.

At a side event she also discussed the need for a decisive approach in implementing the catalogue of goals with Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Thomas Silberhorn, and Endah Murniningtyas, Indonesia's Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. Participants in the well-attended event showed great interest in Germany's National Sustainable Development Strategy and in the German Government's plan to continue it after the UN summit in September in light of the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants also attached great importance to involving members of civil society and taking account of their suggestions throughout the implementation process.

Further information


HLPF meeting in July 2014

With the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) the ministerial segment of the HLPF came to a close on Wednesday, 9 July 2014. The Declaration reiterated that the HLPF will conduct reviews of the implementation of the coming post-2015 development agenda, which is to be adopted at a UN summit in September 2015.

Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, who headed the German delegation in New York, made the following statement: "Making national economies throughout the world more environmentally sound and transforming them into low-carbon economies must be at the core of the post-2015 agenda. That is the only way to preserve the foundations of life for future generations. The earth's resources are limited. We cannot continue with business as usual." 

The Parliamentary State Secretary called for the adoption of a climate agreement that is legally binding for all countries at the December 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris. She also reiterated the call made by Germany, France and Switzerland that a separate target for climate action and sustainable energy policy be included in the post-2015 agenda. 

On the margins of the HLPF, the Parliamentary State Secretary held discussions with high-ranking representatives from the United States, Bolivia (currently Chair of the Group of 77) and the United Nations. The talks focussed on how to most effectively implement the post-2015 agenda's review mechanism. The Parliamentary State Secretary also discussed the possibility of including the German Government's call for setting out a soil conservation target in the post-2015 agenda with the foreign minister of Iceland and high-ranking representatives from other countries. 

The high-level participation in the HLPF by the developed, developing, newly industrialising countries illustrates great interest many countries have in a strong HLPF with a robust review mechanism and an agenda that enables it to react flexibly to new topics in the field of sustainable development.

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HLPF meeting in July 2013

The first meeting of the HLPF 2013 took place on Tuesday, September 24, 2013. The meeting took place under the auspices of the General Assembly, bringing together presidents, prime ministers, senior officials and representatives of stakeholders.

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