High Level Political Forum 2018: What happened there?

23 July 2018
EDF representatives posing at the HLPF

New York, 20 July 2018. The third edition of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) has now ended. It took place at the United Nation’s Headquarter in New York from the 9th to 18th July 2018. This year, the theme of the HLPF was “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies " with a specific focus on six of the 17 goals:

  • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
  • Goal 7: Affordable and clear energy
  • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
  • Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
  • Goal 15: Life on land
  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

EDF Vice-President, Ana Peláez Narváez, SDGs Coordinator, Marion Steff and SDGs Policy Assistant, Alexandre Bloxs were present to represent the European Disability Forum. We were also actively engaged in the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities and among the 31 participants from the global disability movement attending the event.

Our work

  • EDF made sure the voices of persons with disabilities were well-represented in civil society statements for the Voluntary National Reviews of the 14 European countries.
  • We co-hosted an official side-event in partnership with the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, the European Union, UN Climate Resilience Initiative A2R, Gaates, Inclusion International, UK Aid, UNDP, CBM, Global Resilience Partnership, Humanity and Inclusion and World Enabled. The title of the side-event was “Goal 11: inclusion of persons with disabilities in cities”. Ana launched EDF’s last policy brief on SDG 11 titled “Towards inclusive cities: Making SDG 11 a reality in Europe”.
  • Ana spoke twice in the main sessions of the Forum, on behalf of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities: during the session entitled: “SDG 11 – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” and during the session called: “Perspectives of society: Session organized with major groups and other stakeholders”.
  • Ana also presented statements on behalf of the civil society during the Voluntary National Review (VNR) of Greece and Switzerland.
  • Alexandre presented the civil society statement for the VNR of Namibia in International Sign as there was no one from Namibia was present and the only civil society organisation that shared information was the Namibian National Association of the Deaf. It was the first time at the High Level Political Forum that a CSO statement was asked in International Sign.

The Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs)

The presentation of the VNRs took part during the second segment of the HLPF, the Ministerial Segment. During three days, from 16th to 18th July, 46 countries presented their VNRs. Among the 46 countries were 14 European Countries. They were: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. After each VNR presentation, civil societies (CSOs) were allowed to read a statement and ask questions to the countries. EDF worked to ensure references to persons with disabilities were included to those CSOs statements, whenever possible.

Lithuania had direct alarming references to persons with disabilities in its VNR. The government explained that it started the organization of institutional care system. When asked on their plan to actively engage persons with disabilities in society, they did not answer.

Albania, Armenia, Hungary, Poland and Romania missed the opportunity to involve persons with disabilities both during their presentation and in response to the CSO statement.

Latvia said they are developing a “different kind of system house for student with disabilities”.

Ireland recognized persons with disabilities as being one of the most vulnerable group. The government also pointed out the need to call for a better access to employment to reduce poverty. Yet, they did not answer to the question of how Ireland will incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in their SDGs national implementation plan.

Switzerland recognized they should include persons with disabilities in the design process of their next VNR. In their response to the CSO statement, the government recognized that persons with disabilities do not benefit of 100% of accessibility. They have strategies that need to be implemented.

Malta explained to be very sensitive to the situation of persons with disabilities. They have developed a regulation requiring employers to ensure that 2% of their workforce is made up of persons with disabilities when the total workforce comprises more than 20 staff. As an incentive, these employers benefit from a tax reduction. In response to the CSO statement, the government said it has developed a training program for persons with intellectual disabilities. However, they acknowledged there is still a long way before persons with disabilities would be fully included in society.

Greece stated they are looking for a society with no exclusion. They acknowledged that persons with disabilities are very important in their discussion because “the disability persons play very important role in our discussions because we want everyone to be one".

Andorra, Spain and Slovakia (to come soon)

You will be able to find all the transcript of each countries’ presentation: Albania, Andorra (to come soon), Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia (to come soon), Spain (to come soon) and Switzerland.

Our recommendations for a stronger HLPF 2019

  • Provides a platform for parallel or ‘shadow reports’ on country-level implementation similar to the Human Rights Council as well as the Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ sessions. For instance, EDF could have presented its Human Rights report on the SDGs.
  • Open up the side-event space to civil society. For example, only around 20% of the official slots for side events were granted to civil society, whereas one full day was dedicated to a closed business forum.
  • Provide a real opportunity for civil society to respond and dialogue with countries after the VNRs presentations. For instance, 3 minutes to represent all civil society in one statement is not long enough and not constructive enough.
  • Achieve a systematic gender-balance for each session and require it when Member States. For instance, some panels were only constituted of men with a woman moderating.

Our recommendations for a stronger VNRs 2019

  • Ensure civil society, including organisations of persons with disabilities, are involved in the preparation of the VNR.
  • Start the consultation with the civil society early, meaning already in September 2018 to guarantee the process is transparent, constructive and inclusive.
  • Include a dedicated section on leaving no one behind in the VNR to highlight the status and situation of vulnerable groups in relation to the SDGs, such as persons with disabilities.
  • Include a dedicated section on data, outlining all efforts and measures to ensure the full disaggregation of data by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts.
  • Include a statistical annex with disaggregated data, in order to assess the overall status of the SDGs as well as the status of specific groups in relation to the goals, targets and indicators.
  • Include stakeholder representatives, including persons with disabilities, in the country’s delegation and VNR presentation at the HLPF.

Further reading

The Ministerial Declaration which was adopted during the closing session, with three references to persons with disabilities

Our article on the opening of the High Level Political Forum

Our article on the side-event we co-hosted

Our article on EDF’s new Policy brief on SDG 11

Our article on the first week review

Our human rights report on inclusive-disability SDGs

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