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AfA Policy Coalition's experience at the HLPF 2023

  • Overview

The High Level Political Forum, or HLPF, is the central platform of the United Nations to review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. This year's HLPF, convened under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council, was held from Monday, July 10 to Thursday, July 20, 2023. The theme of HLPF 2023 was "Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. This event serves as a pre-summit for preparing the SDG Summit to be held in September 2023.

Five SDGs under review at HLPF were:

  • Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

  • Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

  • Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure

  • Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

  • Goal 17: Partnerships for the goals

HLPF 2023 marked the halfway point between the adoption of the global goals and the 2030 deadline. Civil society contributes in an active way to each of the global goals and also takes an important monitoring role in the commitments of governments. The HLPF also provides a platform for animal protection NGOs to show the connection between animal welfare and the achievement of many SDGs. The outcome of HLPF in July has a significant influence on the narrative leading to the 2023 SDG Summit. The Declaration from the SDG Summit is not legally binding, however, it is a document civil society organizations in general and animal protection NGOs in particular can use to monitor achievement progress of the SDGs in the next five years. Its language can be used as a source of reference to influence other UN processes.

At HLPF 2023, 38 presenters carried out voluntary national reviews (VNRs) of their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. For more information, visit the VNR countries database to review countries that have conducted a VNR in the past (here).

Attendees of HLPF have a wide range of options with regard to sessions to attend. There are main events listed as part of the HLPF’s official agenda, official side events approved by the UN and further side events organized by civil society organizations.

  • Our coordinator at the HLPF 2023

Our AfA Policy Coalition lead coordinator, Ngoc Anh, attended the HLPF in New York with the registration support of World Federation for Animals. The two-week trip provided first-hand experience that was very insightful in terms of developing future plans for the AfA Policy Coalition. Ngoc Anh was able to join the Animal Issues Thematic Cluster (AITC) at their booth with materials demonstrating the Asia for Animals Coalition's current activities and future plans as a regional group representing animal protection NGOs in Asia.

One of the highlights for animal protection organizations attending the event was the reception from AITC called “Synergizing partnerships empowering sustainable development through animal welfare" on July 17, 2023. The reception presented a discussion on how animal welfare contributes to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This session attracted attendees from civil society organizations of other areas as well as members of the the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the UN. For more information about the reception, visit here.

Through participating in events, not only did attendees learn more about the various aspects surrounding the progress towards the SDGs but they also had opportunities to network and advocate for their cause. Making the connection between animal welfare and the achievement of the SDGs is crucial as partnering with other coalitions, groups, and civil society organizations working towards a more sustainable world will help accelerate our common goal. The outcomes arising from HLPF are under review and will be communicated to our members.

Although the SDGs under review this year were not directly relevant to animal welfare, there were still discussions of our progress towards achieving food security, protecting biodiversity, reversing the effects of climate change and forming partnerships for the goals. There were useful materials under discussion:

  • Outcome of HLPF

An explicit reference to the One Health approach for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response strategies, which had been included in an earlier draft, was removed by the HLPF in a significant step backwards. This approach acknowledges the interconnectedness of the health and well-being of people, animals, plants, and ecosystems. In 2021 and 2022, previous Ministerial Declarations had recognized these interdependencies between human, animal, and environmental health.

The next event to follow regarding the Sustainable Development Goals is scheduled in September, from the 18th to the 19th, at the second UN SDG Summit to be held in New York. There, World Federation for Animals and its members will continue their efforts to engage UN Member States to further support the adoption of a more impactful Political Declaration.

  • Final words

Attending events like the HLPF provides an opportunity to learn about the intricacies of policy advocacy at the global level as well as a chance to connect and network with like-minded people from around the world. Not only can participants listen directly to the discussions of stakeholders but they can learn about the different innovative ways of solving current problems. For animal protection organizations, we can contribute as individuals or as groups to voice our opinions and expertise.Aside from this, traveling also means broadening one's horizons with regard to culture and work ethics.

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