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HLPF: High-Level Political Forum 2023


In July of this year, three of us, Giovanna Muha CJ, Sarah Rudolph IBVM and I attended the HLPF at the United Nations. So, what are these acronyms and this Forum all about ….

The United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2023 was held from Monday, 10th July to Wednesday, 19th July 2023, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council. This includes the three-day ministerial segment of the forum from 17-19 July 2023, as part of the high-level segment of the Council. The last day of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC was on Thursday, 20th July, 2023.

The theme was “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”.

So, what is the HLPF? The United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development is the instrument by which the United Nations review the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. It is held under the auspices of the Economic and Social  Commission. The Member States adopt negotiated declarations, reviews commitment and the progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Forum replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development on the 24th September 2013.

The HLPF in 2023 reviewed in-depth Goals 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals.

So, as I had arrived and met our UNNGO Representatives Janet Palafox ibvm and Cynthia Mathew cj a week before the Forum, we were able to set up meetings with our own Country’s Permanent Mission. Of course, previous to arriving in New York I had studied the 365 report from the Irish Government. It was obvious that Ireland is really progressing in the whole area of the SDGs. Yet there were 3 points I wanted to raise with the Irish government.

We succeeded in having a very informative meeting with the Irish Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Fergal Mythen in which I was able to present my concerns. Before leaving the hour-long discussions, the Ambassador accepted an invitation to visit some of our schools when he is back in Ireland. Ambassador Mythen also invited me to a gathering with Irish NGOs attending HLPF that was happening the following week with our government minister for the Environment and Transport, Eamonn Ryan TD. It was also a very productive exercise where Janet and I met many Irish people involved in the SDGs, which included among them young people either involved in the reporting at the United Nations or working there as Interns.

I really marvelled each day as the actual Forum took place and we witnessed the various countries reporting to the other 197 countries, an unforgettable memory. I looked forward each evening as JCOR (Justice Coalition of the Religious) facilitated all Religious to come together and share on their experience of the day. I found this a very enriching time as we met Religious from every continent and all with a common goal and like-minded people.

I still hold that experience of so, so many countries gathering together to further the development of the SDGs. As the week came to an end, I really felt for the first time I fully understood at some level what the United Nations is all about. I also felt a great desire to bring my new understanding and enthusiasm back to Ireland.

Since then I have received word that Ambassador Mythen will visiting us in October and I am making contact with those interested in becoming involved in the Civil Societies. Now that is whole other report as for new connections and friendships formed in New York, well that is also for another day……

Author: Fionnuala Lynch IBVM (Ireland Province UN Representative)

Photos (1): Giovana Muha CJ, Cynthia Mathew CJ, Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Fionnuala, Janet Palafox IBVM and Ariella Ragals (intern Girls Scout of the USA). Bottom of page (1) Irish NGOs (non-government organisations). (2) Religious members of JCoR. (3) Fionnuala and Janet.