The United Nations High Level Political Forum 2018 (HLPF) commences on Monday July 9 and will finish on Thursday July 18. What is HLPF? It is a United Nations platform on Sustainable Development. The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) was mandated in 2012 by the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), “The Future We Want”.
The HLPF on Sustainable Development provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations. It follows up and reviews the implementation of sustainable development commitments and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It addresses new and emerging challenges; promotes the science-policy interface and enhances the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.
This year the theme is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies”. The thematic review will concentrate on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6, 7, 11, 12, 15, and 17.
Good Shepherd reporting on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (see chart) tells us that we as an organization are not fully cognizant of the intersectionality of the goals. The SDGs under review this year appear to be the same SDG’s that we are weakest on. (see chart below). Reflecting on this leads me to ask where are the people in the goals currently under review?
(Chart from page 5 of Report HLPF 2018- GSIJP Office Report) See Report HLPF 2018
From my personal experience in grassroots ministry working on issues of water, sanitation, and energy for example were always at the core of community development, and women’s empowerment programs with the big focus on addressing the multidimensional aspect of poverty and gender related issues. The focus was people centered – the girls and women carrying water – negotiating with local government for water connections to enable girls to school and mother to have time to earn income. Witnessing fuel carriers (choosing some images from google to make my point) children
and girls carrying such weights, the impetus is to remove the burden from that child, that girl, that mother hoping that the systems and structures that created such dehumanizing conditions would soon change.
Drawing from the Secretary General’s Report Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (see pages 7 and 8) I ask how will the 844 million people around the world who still lack access to a basic drinking water source or the 1 billion without electricity be impacted by this session of the HLPF in 2018? The tension for NGO’s on the ground is between alleviating immediate dehumanizing conditions while waiting for political momentum and resources allocation towards reaching the loftiest ideals of ‘leaving no one behind’ and ‘reaching the furthest behind first.’
Cecilie Kern from the GSIJP Office with the Mining Working Group of which we are members has contributed to publishing a paper on Water, Women & Wisdom a Companion document to Water & Sanitation – A People’s Guide to SDG 6
In El Obeid, the sisters run two schools that have been upgraded from kindergarten to primary. A feature of these services is that they offer opportunities to children to attend school who otherwise would be excluded because of poverty. The school compound has some vegetation (flowers), is equipped with a reservation tank for water storage, and has toilets and clean water. During school holidays, tutorials are provided for the children. Apart from poverty, child, early and forced marriage is a problem that the sisters continue to encounter through education in both locations. (Excerpt from narrative report from Sudan)
It is interesting to see where the links of water, sanitation and energy are in our Position Papers There is no actual naming of SDGs 6 or 7 but reference to water, sanitation and energy are in the papers on Economic Justice and Integral Ecology. See Page 7 (f), Page 14 and page 15 (j) for reference to water and sanitation and energy on Page 15, Paragraph 6 (c) referencing the need for personal responsibility in the use of energy and water, a call to avoid non renewable energy and support low energy production and for support of political action on national energy policies and sustainable water usage.
In our survey report there was one response to SDG 12 on Responsible Consumption and Production. You will not find SDG 12 named in the position papers but the term production and consumption is referenced in Economic Justice and Integral Ecology. In Economic Justice (page 6, paragraph 4) we are challenged to support sustainable production and consumption patterns and the Integral Ecology paper (pages 14 and 15 ) challenges us to re-evaluate prior conception, previous understandings, and unquestioned practices. “We cannot ignore that the “dominant pattens of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of the species.” We see injustice when “communities are being undermined and the benefits of development are not shared equitably.” We know that “injustice, poverty, ignorance and violent conflict are widespread and cause great suffering.” The discord we experience within the very air we breathe, the water we drink, and among our communities calls for a response consistent with our mission of reconciliation which calls us to “join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace.” (Quotes excerpted from the Earth Charter, 2000) The last quotation is an echo of the three pillars of sustainable development – the environmental, the social and the economic – upon which the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is founded.
Reference on page 14, paragraph 6 (c) and (i) are apt calling us to convert individual and communal behavior from ecological ignorance to environmental sustainability naming specifically waste and consumption and (i) evaluate and adjust personal and communal decisions in areas of consumption, production, and use of natural resources in the light of sustainability of the universe.