JuLY 7, 2020

Maximizing Virtual Engagement: A Spotlight on the 2020 HLPF

The meeting of the high-level political forum on sustainable development in 2020 will be held from Tuesday, 7 July, to Thursday, 16 July 2020, under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council.

On behalf of the TAP Network Steering Committee

As the international development community and civil society around the world finalizes preparations for the 2020 High-Level Political Forum, starting today, Tuesday, 7 July, to Thursday, 16 July 2020, the world finds itself in unprecedented and challenging times. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s meeting of HLPF will be different from the years past: it will take place almost entirely in a virtual setting.

Given the TAP Network’s collective priorities for advancing SDG16 and accountability for the 2030 Agenda, we will engage extensively around 2020 HLPF and we are pleased to provide a range of virtual opportunities for engagement. You can find more information about TAP’s events and engagements on our website at www.tapnetwork2030.org/2020hlpf 

The HLPF is an annual meeting held under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council as a platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Under this year’s theme of “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development,” the focus will be reviewing where we stand on the SDGs within the context of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as reflecting on the need for an effective response “that puts us back on track to achieve the SDGs and accelerate progress during the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.”

Amidst this tenuous crisis, the pandemic presents an opportunity to frame the recovery and road to resilience firmly within the context of the 2030 Agenda and the realization of the SDGs. As Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, “the 2030 Agenda is our roadmap and its goals and targets are tools to get there.” In order to make this objective a reality, civil society must not only be able to engage meaningfully in these high-level processes going forward, but it must also take a leadership role navigating the “roadmap” of the 2030 Agenda. 

In the past, processes of high-level UN meetings have “derived strength from the engagement of diverse actors including a broad range of civil society organizations (CSOs) working at various levels.” Given this unprecedented territory in terms of disruption and virtual engagement, all relevant actors must innovate to ensure that there are clear avenues of meaningful and robust civil society virtual participation. 

Over 400 civil society organizations from 115 countries put forth a joint letter to UN Member States to ensure meaningful civil society participation at the virtual HLPF. The document compellingly argues that “inclusive virtual modalities are crucial to supporting international cooperation in the spirit of multilateralism,” and therefore, an “enabling environment for all stakeholders to participate that takes into account digital divides is crucial.” Among the list on demands, the joint letter calls for inclusive side-events conducive to diverse stakeholder participation, “including a wide range of civil society led side online events to be shared in the official program” and the establishment of participatory approaches based on the “best practice of online meeting technology” to provide inputs and encourage engagement.

Secretary-General Guterres affirmed that “Looking ahead, we need to build back better…[The SDGs] provide the framework for more inclusive and sustainable economies and societies”. Civil society is the key driver in forging the implementation of the SDGs and the advancement of the 2030 Agenda. The virtual iteration of the 2020 HLPF must therefore reflect the broad spectrum of stakeholders, especially civil society– a consequential actor that has been historically absent from these discussions. This unprecedented HLPF not only has the opportunity to catalyze the SDG framework within the context of recovery from the pandemic in order to “build back better”, it also presents a chance for the UN processes to make meaningful progress in supporting the key role that civil society plays on the global stage. 

As the TAP Network Steering Committee, we underscore our commitment to empowering our members and partners at the local, national and international level in our collective work towards advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies and accountability for the 2030 Agenda. In our extensive engagement around HLPF 2020, we aim to champion more inclusive high-level processes and provide a range of opportunities for authentic participation. Visit our TAP Network 2020 HLPF webpage that presents a wealth of information on TAP-hosted/co-organized side-events, concrete logistics in the “Background Note,” and other key TAP resources. You can also find the official program here, and the calendar of official side-events, here


We look forward to seeing you all “virtually” at HLPF! 



Sources Cited

  1. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf/2020
  2. http://globaltfokus.dk/images/Joint_letter_Inclusion_of_civil_society_HLPF2020.pdf
  3. https://www.un.org/en/un-coronavirus-communications-team/we-are-all-together-human-rights-and-covid-19-response-and

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed on the TAP Network Blog Platform are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the TAP Network. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion.

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