9-19 July 2019 | NEW YORK – UCLG ASPAC together with its global network participated in the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), the United Nations central platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, held at the UN Headquarters. In 2019, it convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Conducted in eight days, this forum saw the active participation of more than 125 heads and deputy heads of state and government, ministers, vice-ministers and other ministerial level officials, 130 notable speakers in panels, and more than 2000 registered participants.

Taking theme Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality, HLPF 2019 conducted in-depth reviews of Goal 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 13 (Climate Action), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions), in addition to Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) which is annually reviewed. The forum was also taking the momentum to complete its first four-year cycle of its mandate to review the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to assess progress towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.

HLPF 2019 concluded that “global response to implementing the SDGs has not been ambitious enough and a renewed commitment and accelerated action is needed to deliver the SDGs in time” (enb.iisd.org).

Review on Goal 4 (Quality Education) showed it is facing battle on the global learning crisis. Further, it was also mentioned that Goal 4 should cover mindset transformation: the approach to learning and teaching to make it inclusive and integrate vision of SDGs in the curricula.

Review on Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) suggested its progress is considered slow and uneven: there is increase in economic growth globally, but least developed countries miss their 7% target. Discussion also described new technology, although empowers people, has disruptive implications for the future of labour market.

Review on Goal 10 (Reduced Inequalities) revealed the rise of income inequality. Global statistics shows the bottom 40% receiving less than 25% of overall income. Other related inequalities data include 39% of women lack decision-making power at work and home, only 20% hold managerial positions, and 50% of those affected by extreme poverty are children below 14 years of age.

Review on Goal 13 (Climate Action) was linked to Climate Summit on 23 September 2019. The discussion revealed and encouraged that the Summit needs realistic plans resulting in a 24% reduction of emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. Participants of the discussion concluded that climate change is disrupting national economies and affecting lives.

Review on Goal 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions) showed there is no substantial progress made in recent years, as women comprise 70% of the victims of violence, nine human-rights defenders were killed weekly in 2018 compared to seven in 2017, and only 40% of children under the age of five have birth certificates in sub-Saharan Africa.

Review on Goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) showed that humanitarian aid fell by 8% in the same period and aid to the least developed countries and African countries, who need it most, is falling.

UCLG ASPAC, UCLG, and Global Taskforce

Representing local governments in Asia Pacific, the largest section of UCLG, UCLG ASPAC has been actively advocating SDGs localisation through its notable programmes: LOCALISE SDGs (for Indonesia) and LEAD for SDGs (for Pakistan), in addition to various other SDGs-supporting programme such as DRR, Culture, Sanitation, Climate Action and Energy. Thus, UCLG ASPAC, represented by Co-President Ranjit Chavan of AIILSG and Secretary General Bernadia Irawati Tjandradewi of UCLG ASPAC, also took part in a joint-action and initiatives of Global Taskforce in hosting Local and Regional Governments Day and contributed in various discussions.

Local and Regional Governments’ Day

Towards the Localisation of the SDGs – Local and Regional Governments’ Report to the 2019 HLPF 3rd Reportclick to download

UCLG ASPAC supported the Global Taskforce to report on local governments’ involvement in SDGs localisation, which was presented in Local and Regional Governments’ Day, with the presence of Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, and President of the General Assembly Maria Fernanda Espinosa. The report revealed, despite local governments’ active contribution in the achievement of global agendas, the involvement of local (and regional) governments has been rather limited. The report noted “only a limited number of reporting countries gave LRGs an active role in the preparation of their VNRs (42%) or in the national mechanisms of coordination (34%).”

Proposed recommendation included supporting greater participation of local (and regional) government in reporting and follow-up mechanisms, making localisation of the SDGs an essential part of national strategies, backing localisation efforts with adequate means of implementation, supporting bottom-up monitoring process (such as Voluntary Local Review) and developing disaggregated data, and boosting international cooperation and multi-stakeholder partnerships for SDGs localisation.

See further call to all Local and Regional Governments for accelerated action to localise SDGs.


Local 2030
Initiatives and solutions offered in sessions of Local 2030 included an impetus to meet Goal 8 and at the same time to provide solutions for reducing poverty, inequalities, and promote climate action, innovation, responsible production, and sustainable cities and communities through investment in green economy. Key issue financing and supporting SDGs localisation were also discussed, focusing on the importance of the institutionally led collaborative multi-stakeholder planning of long-term SDGs plans and policies at the local level that allow to integrate the innovation, technologies, capacities, resources and data. Discussion also covered Goal 4, 10, 13, 16, and 17. Distinguished speakers enriching the discussion included Stefano Bonaccini (President of the Emilia Romagna Region, Italy, President of AICCRE, President of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions), Moustapha Kamal Gueye (Coordinator of the Green Jobs Programme, ILO), Yu Fei (Deputy representative for the North American Office, Asian Development Bank), and Iñigo Urkullu (President of the Basque Country Region, Spain).

Voluntary Local Review (VLR) was other initiative brought up, adapting Paragraph 79 of the Agenda 2030 that encourages member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven.” Discussion in this session sought to identify potential common elements of VLR preparation and to share how the elaboration of VLRs could be instrumental to achieve the 2030 Agenda at local level. Throughout this session, participants shared their experiences and practices in implementing VLRs, discussed the need for the development of potential guidance on VLR to support the preparation of VLR, demonstrated how VLR process could help improve the development and implementation of local strategies, highlighted how VLR could be used as a peer-learning tool, and identified means of enabling multi-stakeholder participation during the VLR process, among many others. Insights and inspirations were from notable speakers, such as Mayor Jan Vapaavuori of Helsinki (Finland), Junko Ota, Vice-Chair of Kitakyushu City SDGs Council (Japan), Joana Balsemao, Councillor de Cascais (Portugal), and Alexandra Hiniker, Program Director, Global Vision, Mayor’s Office for International Affairs (New York City, USA).

Asia Pacific and VNR

Out of 47 countries, nine Asia Pacific countries delivered their report during the Ministerial Segment: Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Nauru, and Timor Leste.

Indonesia, represented by Minister, National Development Planning, Bambang Brodjonegoro, reported a national 2030 roadmap for SDG implementation focusing on SDG interlinkages and projections for their achievements, the establishment of nine SDG centres in Indonesian universities, and involvement of stakeholders in SDG implementation, including a public consultation on best practices.

Pakistan, represented by Parliamentary Secretary, Kanwal Shauzab, reported the country’s SDG Unit, National SDGs Framework, its medium-term development targets to achieve zero hunger, a new Ministry of Poverty Alleviation (with commitment of USD190 billion, scholarships for girls, financial and digital services for 6 million women).

UCLG ASPAC has specifically supported local governments of both countries through LOCALISE SDGs (Indonesia) and LEAD for SDGs (Pakistan) programme. Various workshops and capacity building activities have been conducted to enhance local governments’ capacity and enable them to immensely contribute to the achievement of sustainable development firstly in their respective cities and then to national level. UCLG ASPAC has also established collaboration with various stakeholders such as National Development Planning Agency (Indonesia), Parliamentary Taskforce on SDGs (Pakistan), and various other stakeholders such as local government associations and private institutions.

UCLG ASPAC will continue its commitment to support local governments within Asia Pacific in localising SDGs through various capacity building and other related and/or thematic activities. UCLG ASPAC is also looking forward to contribute further in the upcoming HLPF September 2019 event in New York.

(photos: IISD/ENB, UCLG.org)