General Assembly meeting on Secretary-General’s report for follow-up and review of 2030 Agenda

An informal meeting of the General Assembly was held on the report of the Secretary-General outlining milestones and way forward towards coherent, efficient and inclusive follow-up and review at the global level of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as included in the letters from the President of the General Assembly, dated 14 March and 3 March (See: 2030 Agenda: next steps on report of the Secretary-General and GA President appoints Co-facilitators for next steps on follow-up and review of the 2030 agenda)

As one of the two co-facilitators, Ambassador Ib Petersen of Denmark welcomed everyone, including Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in UN DESA. As Ambassador Petersen pointed out in September the General Assembly adopted a “truly remarkable agreement”, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which paragraph 90 requires the UN Secretary-General to outline “critical milestones towards coherent, efficient and inclusive follow-up and review at the global level.”

Together with Ambassador Lois Young, he would be facilitating agreement on a draft resolution in an open transparent manner on follow-up after this year’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF). It will be looking at the coming years. They will consult and receive inputs from Member States on the most critical issues. Issues to be taken into account in the consultations include themes for the HLPF; the role of the functional commissions; framework for national reviews including periodicity; regional reviews and how they can best be part of the follow up; countries in special situations, eg land-lacked developing countries and small island developing states; system-wide reporting and quadrennial policy review; and the multi-year programme for HLPF for 2017, 2018 and 2019. They will  consult with the President of ECOSOC, who is leading on the 2016 HLPF and be mindful of other consultations that are taking place in relation to the alignment of the General Assembly with the 2030 Agenda, eg in the Second and Fifth Committees, as they wish to support the President of the General Assembly in letting these processes run their course.

The co-facilitators then presented the road map for the negotiations, duing which they will convene a series of consultations, including with other stakeholders: 

29 March - Informal brainstorming meeting for Member States at expert level

31 March First informal consultation with Member States

1 April - First informal consultation with stakeholders 

Early April -  Drafting of a Non-paper 

Mid Aprril - Issue of Non-paper from co-facilitators

25-29 April - Second informal consultation with Member States and second informal consultation with Stakeholders during this week. 

This time frame is set to allow Member States to engage in the development of the Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR).

Early May Issue of the Zero draft, followed by negotiations during May on the draft resolution on follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. (For full road map click here)

The co-facilitators hope that agreement will be reached in Early June, in time for action for the HLPF. They again stressed their openness and willingness to engage and commitment to an inclusive and transparent process

St Vincent (speaking on behalf of CARICOM) aligned its statement with the G77 and AOSIS, saying that the SG’s Report allows the consideration of issues in an “efficient and effective architecture”. They have a “mammoth task ahead” in crafting an integrated agenda and Member States should promote and facilitate implementation, including the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. They should be flexible to take into account the differences among states. 

They cautioned about avoiding system-wide duplication and in capitals eg on improving the work of Second Committee, which should be broadened to include others. They should avoid redundancies, welcoming the appointment of the Permanent Representative of Colombia to address a proposal on this. On SIDS they referred to the Barbados and Mauritius agreements and the Samoa Pathway, noting that SIDS issues should be discussed as part of the HLPF and not in a subsiduary body. Different approaches could be necessary for the various regions. Finally, they emphasized the centrality of comprehensive follow-up. 

Thailand (speaking for the G77 and China) referred to the mandate in para 90 of the 2030 Agenda. There should be state-led reviews under the auspices of ECOSOC, guidance on annual themes and options for periodic reviews. The 2030 Agenda already provides detailed and robust guidance at all levels which should be used. Imp to ensure that follow-up and review is done in a systematic way. The Group does not think that the informal consultations should cover thematic and cross-cutting issues, but needs to know which entity will discuss them. The agencies should support the HLPF in follow-up and review, as it  has a central role. They should work coherently with the GA, ECOSOC etc in accordance with mandates. 

The process will benefit from the revitalization of the work of the GA and there should be a flow chart of inter-linked processes. Resolution 67/290 can be complemented to spell out the role of ECOSOC in relation to the HLPF. There should be better alignment of ECOSOC’s work with the Division on Sustainable Development in working together to decide how the HLPF will be organized. There is a need to develop further the modalities for review of national reviews. Both vertical and horizontal processes should be maintained as in goals in any clustering. 

European Union said that a strong framework was key. It should be comprehensive, open, transparent and effective. The HLPF should be relevant and maintain interest over the years and the follow-up and review system should be one that does deliver. They welcome the efforts for the global follow-up and review framework that should fully reflect the three pillars of sustainable development. There should be mechanisms for feeding into the process, which should not be rushed and lessons learned should be used. There is a need to provide clarity on system-wide coherence and for an efficient UN Secretariat that delivers as one. Effectiveness should be maximized and they should be mindful of other linked processes. They referred to budgetary implications and the ECOSOC dialogue on system, stressing the need to work closely with the ECOSOC Secretariat.

Japan said that implementation was already taking place at the national level in many Member States. The global level should underpin it and they should avoid duplication. The 2030 Agenda and FfD had been discussed last year and they should now focus on the best way to move forward. They cannot afford new disucssions on the HLPF, which is happening in 4 months and they should consider 2017 and beyond, keeping in mind other processes. The current process should focus on a limited number of issues for starting a 4-year cycle. The rest of issues can be discussed in the review at the 73rd session of the GA. 

Morocco raised the follow up to commitments for categories of countries, such as the African countries for which there is a framework. There is a crucial need for Africa and African countries. They also referred to the inclusion of means of implementation, or follow-up of commitments to be part of global follow-up.

United States echoed the comments on the proliferation of processes. They share the view that the consultations should focus on most urgent issues, noting that the 2016 HLPF will be run by the President of ECOSOC. There is a need to save some space to take stock as to how things are going and to leave some room for innovation. 

Russia asked for clarification on consultation with stakeholders and which ones would be involved. 

In response Ambassador Petersen said it should be a transparent process and that the co-facilitators intend to hold briefings with CSOs and others on the process. A separate meeting will be held on Friday 1 April. There had been a good tradition for consultation with stakeholders. The road map is a tentative schedule but they hope the dates will hold. The two informal consultations will be one-day meetings, probably afternoon sessions.

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