The 2020 UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held online from 7–16 July. The HLPF annual meeting is the core United Nations platform for follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The theme of the 2020 HLPF was “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”. The United Nations University co-organised a special event and three side events during the 2020 HLPF to showcase UNU’s work on a broad range of sustainable development topics.
Higher education: On 8 July, the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) co-organised a special event on The Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI). The focus of the event, titled “Where Next? Redesigning Further Education for the Future”, was on how higher education can be redesigned to support sustainable development and regeneration, as well as on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the higher education sector.
For more about this event, see the news story “HESI Special Event Looks at Higher Education’s Role in Rebuilding for the Future” on the UNU-IAS website. A recording of this HESI special event is available for viewing on YouTube.
Energy assets: On 10 July, three UNU institutes (UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), and UNU-IAS) and partners jointly organised a side event on “Managing ‘Stranded’ Assets: Risks and Opportunities”. This event explored the socio-economic impacts for Africa of transitioning away from fossil fuels and moving towards “decarbonised economies”, and the opportunities for diversification and sustainable development throughout the continent. The discussion, which considered the impacts of COVID-19 on green transitions, and how climate change can be addressed as part of “building back better” after the pandemic, highlighted regional perspectives and considered how Africa might adapt strategies from developed countries such as Japan.
For more, see the press release “Greening the COVID-19 Recovery for a Sustainable Future for Africa and Beyond” on the UNU-INRA website, and the news story “Leaders & Experts Discuss Green Transition in Africa, Building Back Better from COVID-19” on the UNU-IAS website. A video of the “stranded assets” event is available for viewing on Facebook.
Modern slavery: On 13 July, UNU-CPR organised a side event on “Sustainable Finance’s Role in Reducing Modern Slavery: COVID-19’s Lessons on Protecting the Most Vulnerable”. Participants discussed how COVID-19 has exacerbated people’s vulnerability to labour exploitation and trafficking, the impact the pandemic is having on survivors of modern slavery, and the risks it poses for migrant workers in particular. The discussion also explored the key role that the financial sector can play in fostering effective actions to address these issues, drawing on insights derived from the Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
Biodiversity: On 16 July, UNU-IAS co-organised a side event on “Societies in Harmony with Nature: An Inclusive Approach for Communities, Landscapes and Seascapes”. The event focused on the work of the Satoyama Initiative, a global effort by UNU-IAS and the Japan Ministry of the Environment; landscape approaches to biodiversity conservation and human well-being; and how landscape approaches can contribute to a post-COVID 19 recovery for a more sustainable future.
For more, see the news story “Landscape Approaches & COVID-19 Recovery Highlighted in HLPF Side Event” on the UNU-IAS website. A Zoom recording of the Satoyama Initiative event is available for viewing.
A common theme of the four events co-organised by UNU was the need for renewed efforts at all levels to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as humankind worldwide continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of taking an integrated approach for “building back better” to create more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive societies.