Zimbabwe participated at the annual meeting of the 2022 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development, held at the United Nations in New York, from 5 July to 15 July 2022, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HLPF was being held under the theme “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
The HLPF, is the monitoring and review mechanism on progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Zimbabwe delegation, led by Mr. Simon Masanga, Permanent Secretary for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, joined other Member States, UN Agencies, international organisations, civil society organisations, women, youth, the academia and other stakeholders, at the meeting to take stock of progress on the SDGs. Participants at the Forum 22, expressed concern over the setbacks the global community has faced since the last HLPF in-person session in 2019, due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conflict in Ukraine was also a topical issue in the discussions, with delegates making the links between the continued conflict, the suffering of the people at the heart of the conflict, the rising costs of food globally and how its impacts have impeded the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Thematic discussions on the SDGs Under Review
The 2022 HLPF held discussions to review in-depth the following SDGs: 4 on Quality Education, 5 on Gender Equality, 14 on Life under Water, 15 on Life on Land, and 17 on Partnerships for the Goals, in depth.
In the discussions, Member States and other stakeholders outlined ways in which challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and the conflict in Ukraine have impacted their countries. Additional and related challenges highlighted included worsening inequality, economic and structural reforms and debt distress, inflation, fertilizer scarcity and rising prices of agricultural goods, food and water insecurity, pollution, biodiversity loss, sea level rise and drought. Many called for strengthened multilateralism in the face of the multiple crises facing the world. Some called for an end to unilateral sanctions.
The 2022 Forum identified the following areas for immediate action: investing in equitable vaccine access; tackling the food, energy and fertilizer crises; investing in people, including through the Transforming Education Summit to be held in September 2022; “keeping 1.5°C temperature global warming goal alive,” including by investing in renewable energy; and reviewing access and eligibility for concessional finance for developing countries.
Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs)
Forty-four (44) countries presented their VNRs on their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The 2022 VNRs mostly highlighted significant global setbacks in the achievement of SDGs, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, including: poverty, unemployment, unsustainable debt and rising inflation; conflict; food insecurity and climate change; dramatic increases in gender-based violence; and youth unemployment.
As a member of the Group of Friends of the VNRs, Zimbabwe participated in a series of VNR Labs that were convened on the margins of the 2022 HLPF, providing an informal platform for experience sharing and reflecting on the Voluntary National Review process. Zimbabwe supported fellow SADC VNR presenting countries, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, and Botswana, which presented on how they were integrating the SDGs in the implementation of national development plans.
Zimbabwe shared its experience in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, preparation and presentation of the VNR, having presented its second VNR at the 2021 HLPF. Zimbabwe also highlighted efforts to domesticate and localize the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, from the experience of the Voluntary Local Reviews undertaken by the City of Harare and the Victoria Falls Municipality, that informed the countries’ 2021 VNR. Zimbabwe reported that the success of the two VLRs led Cabinet to direct that the VLRs be cascaded to all local authorities. The Government is currently working with UN agencies and other stakeholders to conduct 4 VLRs (2 urban and 2 rural) for Mutasa Rural District Council, Bikita Rural District Council, Zvishavane Town and Bulawayo in 2022.
Through the discussions, Zimbabwe identified a number of opportunities that are available for the exchange of experiences between the country’s local authorities, and other local authorities in countries such as Japan, Italy and the Netherlands, who have successfully undertaken VLRs and had gone further to undertake Voluntary Sub-national Reviews (VSRs), which are powerful levers for creating a comprehensive, nationwide and multi-level approach to governance related to the monitoring and reporting of the SDGs.
Zimbabwe also participated in an event that focused on Accelerating SDG7 (Ensuring Access to Affordable, Reliable, Sustainable and Modern Energy for All), action for the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and looked at universal energy access and just, inclusive and equitable energy. The event reiterated that energy lies at the heart of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Zimbabwe joined other countries in stressing that ensuring universal access was necessary for creating sustainable economic growth and development. The event underlined that failure to transition to sustainable energy systems would jeopardize the fight against climate change and threaten human well-being and economies for decades. SDG7 would be among the six SDGs to be reviewed at the 2023 HLPF.Ministerial Declaration
The 2022 HLPF adopted a Ministerial Declaration as the outcome of its session. The Ministerial Declaration, reaffirms the commitments of Member States to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and calls for increased global partnership, solidarity and commitment to accelerate implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Member States reaffirm poverty eradication and climate change as the greatest challenges facing humanity, and recommit to accelerate actions towards a more ambitious climate action ahead of the COP27 on Climate Change, to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in November 2022. The Declaration underlines the need to mobilize finance from all sources, to close the US$2.5 trillion annual global SDG financing gap. Ensuring timely, equitable, and affordable global access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines; strengthening health systems; universal access to affordable, reliable, and renewable energy for all; equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation; and investing in youth as agents for sustainable development are among the other priority issues highlighted in the Declaration.
Going forward, Zimbabwe should continue to strengthen the implementation and monitoring mechanisms to achieve the SDGs during the Decade of Action, despite the current challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change impacts. In line with the NDS1 and the country’s Vision 2030, Zimbabwe should continue to mainstream the SDGs in the national development plans, focusing on building back better in the context of COVID-19. The country should also make use of some of the best practices, solutions, experiences, and approaches shared by other countries at the 2022 HLPF, related to ensuring food security (SDG 2), economic resilience and recovery (SDG 8), youth engagement in recovery (SDG 10 and 17), building climate resilience for COVID-19 recovery (SDG 13), and the public-private partnerships and effective institutions that can support recovery (SDG 16 and 17) all in the context of SDG implementation. It is important to ensure a Whole of Society Approach, in the spirit of the cardinal principle of Leaving No One Behind, in the implementation of the SDGs.