High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and Persons with Disabilities

Elizabeth LockwoodBy Elizabeth Lockwood, Ph.D.; CBM International and International Disability and Development Consortium;  elizabeth.lockwood@cbm.org; Twitter: @LockwoodEM; Blog: http://blog.cbm.org/author/elizabethlockwood/

The HLPF is the global mechanism for follow-up and review of the SDGs and will monitor the global implementation of the SDGs. The HLPF will facilitate sharing of experiences, including achievements, challenges and lessons – learned both thematically and nationally – and provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations. Although the HLPF is not a legally binding mechanism, the global-level review process gives opportunities for high-profile attention. This year the HLPF will take place at the UN in NY from 11-20 July.


The 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, also know as Rio+20, produced “The Future We Want” agreement that established the HLPF to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development. Specifically, it was established to improve and make a more effective institutional framework for sustainable development and to promote synergies and coherence within the UN system. In addition, it was created to mandate the highest level of implementation monitoring and provide a forum for open, transparent, participative and internationally comparable reviews and proposals.

In 2013 the HLPF working methods were defined by Member States and adopted by the General Assembly. The HLPF is comprised of UN Member States and meets (1) annually Under the Economic and Social Council and (2) every four years under the General Assembly.

High-Level Political Forum 2016 Themes

The 2016 HLPF annual theme (and for thematic reviews) is ensuring that no one is left behind, building on the core concept from 2030 Agenda that no SDG target will be met, if not met for the most marginalized. At this point, the proposal from the President of ECOSOC is for the HLPF 2016 to thematically focus on five goals: Goals 1, 6, 8, 10, and 17. All five goals have components of the three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) as well as aspects of ensuring that no one is left behind. These five goals are proposed to be the focus for this year’s HLPF thematic review cycle and all the 17 goals will be covered within a four-year cycle. Yet, the clustering of goals may change due to concerns from many Member States over creating a silo effect by not addressing all of the 17 Goals together.

Currently (although continually increasing), 14 countries (Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Madagascar, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Venezuela) have volunteered to report on the national implementation of the SDGs with a focus on the five goals and under the theme leave no one behind. This means that these Member States will report on their respective national implementation initiatives regarding the SDGs focused on these five goals and report to the UN during the HLPF in July 2016. It is important for stakeholders to engage actively in these national processes.

HLPF and Persons with disabilities

The concept of leave no one behind refers to marginalized groups, including persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities comprise a population of one billion persons worldwide of whom an estimated 80 per cent lives in the global South. Persons with disabilities are often the marginalized of the marginalized and experience significant levels of discrimination and exclusion.

There is wide recognition that persons with disabilities are disproportionately represented among those left behind by recent development gains. For this reason, it is imperative that persons with disabilities are explicitly included and active leaders and participants in the monitoring of implementation of the SDGs.

Of the five goals of focus for this year, persons with disabilities have references in all, except for Goal 6 (although this is a significant gap, read here for details on WASH and persons with disabilities). This means that the voluntary national reviews will include aspects of implementation of the SDGs inclusive of persons with disabilities. Continue reading for a breakdown of the HLPF goals and respective references to persons with disabilities. 

Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
Target 1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable Global Indicator 1.3.1 Percentage of the population covered by social protection floors/systems disaggregated by sex, and distinguishing children, unemployed, old age, “persons with disabilities,” pregnant women/newborns, work injury victims, poor and vulnerable

Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Targets: No references to persons with disabilities Global Indicators: No references to persons with disabilities


Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
Target 8.5 By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and “persons with disabilities,” and equal pay for work of equal value


Global Indicator 8.5.1 Average hourly earnings of female and male employees by occupation, by age group and “persons with disabilities”
Global Indicator 8.5.2 Unemployment rate, by sex, age group and “persons with disabilities”


Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
Target 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, “disability,” race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status Global Indicator 10.2.1 Proportion of people living below 50 per cent of median income, disaggregated by age group, sex and “persons with disabilities”.

Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
Target 17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, “disability,” geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts  No global indicator with references to persons with disabilities


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