HLPF 2019: GNDR advocates for risk-informed development

Opening of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC / Ministerial Segment of HLPF 2019

GNDR members and staff participated in this year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York on 9-18 July. Organised annually by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, this is where countries come together and review their progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our goal was to advocate risk-informed development, for local level participation in decision-making and policy coherence. Here’s an overview of our activities at the conference.

Sendai Stakeholders contributions to SDG 13 reporting and the Voluntary National Reviews: recommendations for an inclusive, multi-stakeholder approach

This official side event was organised by the Sendai Stakeholders Group. Panellists discussed good practices of implementing risk-informed development to achieve the SDGs and multi-stakeholder approaches to achieving goal 13.

Panellists included: Kathryn Adams (LIDE Foundation), Zakir Hossain (Farmers’ Voice), Jhocas Castillo (DAMPA/Huairou Commission), Ahmed Riad (ARISE), Tetet Maria Theresa Lauron (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation), Reda Shmait (UN Major Group for Children and Youth) and GNDR Executive Director Bijay Kumar.

Mr Hossain talked about how development and climate change can bring risks to communities. “Our only source of water is a canal. Development brings irrigation, but also brings silt, which reduces the width of the canal and increases the risk of floods, along with the new bridge that narrows the water flow,” he said.

Mr Kumar made an impassioned speech on the need for an all of society approach to risk-informed thinking and decision-making. Policy and practice coherence, particularly at the local level, is needed to take into consideration the broader needs of a community.

From silos to synergies: Governance and policy coherence tools for implementing the SDGs

GNDR co-organised this session on SDG learning, training and practice, on 12 July with OECD, the Millennium Institute and UNITAR. Participants shared examples of good practice in implementing coherence at the national and at the local level. Two GNDR members, Neftali Gomez from Redescubre, Mexico, and Sari Mutia Timur from Yakkum Emergency Unit, Indonesia, joined the panel and provided illustrations of translating policy coherence into action. The tools presented were the OECD Online PCSD Toolkit, the Millenium Institute iSDG Toolkit, and GNDR’s Coherence Cookbook and the Views from the Frontline 2019 data. Participants got the opportunity to practice using the VFL data and identify relevant actions that would improve policy coherence.

Review of SDG implementation and interrelations among goals: Discussion on SDG 13 (Climate action)

In this session on 12 July progress was reviewed towards Goal 13 and the links between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Lucy Pearson, GNDR Programme Manager, made an intervention on behalf of the Sendai Stakeholder Group. Watch her statement in the video below or read it in full.

As a lead discussant, The UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Mami Mizutori, said: "There is a crucial case in aligning our efforts to reduce risk, and this process has multiple connections with climate change mitigation and adaptation and vulnerability reduction." She stressed that "few disaster risk reduction plans incorporate these connections. Failure to include climate change scenarios in the assessment of disaster risk and planning its reduction creates redundancy of efforts and wastes resources." Read the full statement.

Science Policy Interface

In this session, the co-chairs of the Independent Group of Scientists presented key findings and the Call to Action contained in the 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report. Virginia Murray, Head of Global Disaster Risk Reduction, Public Health England, participated as a discussant representing the Sendai Stakeholders Group. During her intervention she remarked on how science can play a role in empowering all stakeholders, from policy makers to actors at the grassroots. She argued that science should be useful, usable and used for all stakeholders.

Building local ownership of global processes: Lessons learned in reducing climate and disaster risk

This event, co-organised by the Bahá'í International Community, together with UNDRR and GNDR offered an interactive discussion with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Ms. Mami Mizutori, to explore the process by which local communities chart their own paths towards a more sustainable and resilient future.

“Local DRR committees linked to national platforms allow communities to convey their needs but also share their knowledge", said Lucy Pearson, Programme Manager, GNDR.

"We are developed already as a community. Policies must therefore recognise our existing systems to be trusted, accepted and successful." said Zakir Hossain from Farmers’ Voice.

Voluntary National Reviews

Throughout week two of the conference 47 countries gave their Voluntary National Review (VNR), outlining progress towards achieving SDGs 4, 8, 10, 13, 16 and 17. During the reviews civil society was given the opportunity to put questions to their governments.

We met with civil society representatives at HLPF 2019 to ask their opinion on the VNRs.

UNDRR Side Event: Seizing Momentum for a Resilient Future

Lucy Pearson, Programme Manager at GNDR joined as a panellist at this event on 16 July. The two-hour session highlighted how, in the context of a changing climate, risk-informed development is critical to empower people and ensure inclusiveness and equality.

Delivering a keynote speech Ms. Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC said: “Coherence among the Sendai Framework, the 2030 Agenda and Paris agreement is crucial to ensure that DRR is integrated in everything we do." She added: "A risk-informed approach to implementing the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs can reduce vulnerability and exposure to disasters for the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities.”

Presenting Views from the Frontline to Governments

We met with Indonesian Minister, Mr. Achsanul Habib, who confirmed the need for more local-level engagement and community empowerment to better prepare for disasters and build resilience. He committed to sharing our Views from the Frontline database with the national disaster risk management department and the department for planning.

We also met with Guatemalan Minister, Mr. Miguel Angel E Moir S., who suggested that data surveys and consultations like Views from the Frontline should be applied in communities across the country. Once the database is translated into Spanish, he agreed to consider using it at national and local levels.

How can civil society networks contribute to building coherence across the SDGs, CCA and DRR?

Throughout the week we caught up with civil society representatives – here’s what they had to say about the value of civil society networks.


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