The annual High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development began at the UN headquarters on the 10th of July. Each year, government and UN officials gather alongside civil society to discuss progress made towards sustainable development; the theme of this year's forum was “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. The conference spotlighted the need for more effective and inclusive recovery measures that address the impacts of the pandemic on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also explored how the SDGs and 2030 agenda can be achieved to ensure no one is left behind.
QUNO NY rep Kavita Desai, spoke at a side event convened by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN. In her remarks, Kavita asked meeting participants to consider the critical role that inclusivity plays in the 2030 Agenda . When asked how we can better integrate youth voices Kavita responded that “Inclusion is both a voice in the consultations and involvement in the outcomes of evidence-based policy making, access to resources, and partnership in implementation.”
Other key points Kavita made that were echoed by others during the discussion included the need to ensure the safety of youth participants so they can freely and confidently engage, concern over shrinking civic space everywhere, and the need for clear and accessible guidelines on how youth can engage with the UN or nationally. QUNO also highlighted that young people must be viewed as equal partners and that they should not simply be included to make a discussion look more inclusive but because it makes outcomes more impactful
Many of the panelists affirmed Kavita’s remarks, repeating calls to accelerate and successfully implement the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. Overall, participants recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly slowed the progress that’s required. Looking forward, a huge effort is required to make up for lost time. This will require political will, commitment of resources, and dedicated collaboration between civil society, young people, the UN, and governments.