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The HLPF needs reform, fast. The clock is ticking on our future.


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Jan Mayrhofer

Over 8 days, from 9 July to 18 July 2019, the meeting of the high-level political forum (HLPF) on sustainable development took place in New York. At this meeting, 47 Member States of the United Nations presented their progress on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals through what are called, Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

The European Youth Forum was there to represent and support our Member Organisations, including the National Youth Councils of Azerbaijan, Serbia and Iceland whose governments were among those being reviewed.

high-level political forum logo

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, 6 were up for review this year:

Goal 4 - Quality education

Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Goal 10 - Reduced Inequalities

Goal 13 - Climate Action

Goal 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Goal 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

While there was a significant presence of civil society, opportunities to be meaningfully heard were limited. In some cases the National Youth Councils were not involved or allowed to input in the presentation of their countries.

The participation of young voices in this review process is crucial. Young generations will be the most impacted by the actions of Member States and their success or failure in reaching the conditions for a better world set out by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The political, economic and social reality for young people worldwide must be properly reflected and taken into account if we are to improve accountability and implementation of the Goals.

The European Youth Forum also worked to bring a European youth perspective to the interventions from the Major Group for Children and Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals, during the first thematic week. World Youth Skills Day on 15 July presented another occasion to put the spotlight on the situation for young people around the world, especially in terms of quality education and the future of work.

The truth is that there is still a long way to go for Member States to truly live up to their commitments and meet the conditions of the SDGs. The flashy presentations on display at the HLPF showing their progress was still not enough to distract from the fact that in many cases we are falling behind. The European Youth Forum calls for the HLPF and related follow-up and review mechanisms of the 2030 Agenda to be reformed, allowing for civil society to take a stronger role. We must have increased opportunities for constructive exchange on lessons, challenges and systemic obstacles.

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