The High-level Political Forum (HLPF) was held at the UN headquarters in New York between July 9 and July 18. Every year, this forum has served as an important opportunity involving leaders in the political and private sectors to gather and grasp the progress being made toward the implementation of the SDGs as well as to discuss what kinds of issues still exist and share success stories. For the latest session, members of the government-backed Japan Youth Platform for Sustainability also participated. In addition, students in the seminar led by Norichika Kanie, a professor of media and governance at Keio University, participated as observers at a side event to the forum. What are the prospects for achieving the SDGs and the current status of the world as seen through the eyes of such young participants?
Japanese companies, local governments should engage more actively in international debate.
What most impressed me at the July High-level political forum were the extremely active discussions conducted by stakeholders other than national governments, such as private-sector and international organizations, as well as local governments.
In particular, I was very encouraged by the holding of “voluntary local reviews,” in which local governments from various nations gathered to report on their activities and to exchange views on what more could be done. Those reviews took after the voluntary national reviews that U.N. member states are required to conduct.
Because Japanese local governments have a high interest in the SDGs, starting with sixty “SDG Future Cities”, and a truly impressive set of measures regarding them in comparison with those of other nations, I hope Japanese local governments in the future will more actively state their cases at such forums and find opportunities to meet new potential partners for cooperative efforts.
The stance of companies will also be important. From now, in addition to creating outstanding domestic examples, companies will also be called upon to more actively engage in international discussions. For example, the U.N. Development Program is considering a framework to certify companies that engage in efforts to achieve the SDGs.
Unfortunately, there is no presence of Japanese companies in the discussions that have been held to establish the standards for certification. The SDGs being pursued by all nations will undoubtedly become the guidelines for a growth strategy from now. I hope that Japanese companies will play a leading role in creating global standards for the SDGs.
Although four years have passed since the approval of the SDGs, the initial intention was to consider the time until 2019 as a start-up period. From that perspective, the progress made until now is better than expected. In Japan, various outstanding examples as well as other “seeds” have begun to spread. As we move toward the 2030 deadline, greater hope can be held about achieving the goals if such examples are increased and there is a further increase in the scale of such cases.
Nanami Kado, senior at State University of New York at Binghamton
Regarding Goal 4 “Quality Education,” not only was there a presentation of ideas and personal opinions, but also discussions about the focus on education that leads to real action and a return of benefits to society. In his speech, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for action rather than a good speech. I want young people to speak up and put their words into action.
Kengo Hayashi, a senior at Keio University
I thought that international cooperation meant support from advanced nations to developing ones, but I have come to realize that to achieve the SDGs there is also a need for support from developing nations to other developing nations through South-South cooperation. Japan should stand at the forefront in achieving the SDGs and I believe it is a nation capable of doing so. Since I will be engaged in international cooperation work after graduation, I want to contribute to the world by taking advantage of this experience.
Katsuhito Okubo, participation facilitator for the Japan Youth Platform for Sustainability
In the side event to think about how to conduct voluntary national reviews (VNRs), discussions led to raising such points as “how to appropriately measure the effects of implementing SDGs domestically” and “how to create good formats for the VNRs.” I felt there was the recognition of the need for peer review among member states. I also again became aware of the need for preparations to build and take advantage of cooperative efforts.
Hitomi Shimizu, 1st-year graduate student at Keio University
During a side event hosted by Local 2030, the audience gave a big round of applause to Miguel Gamiño Jr., an executive vice president at Mastercard, saying that the accumulation of local level actions are the needed elements that end up as global contributions. This side event gave me a deeper realization about the importance of the effort put in to make each community better, and that citizen involving policies and actions do contribute in achieving the SDGs.
Hanako Christine Travin, sophomore at Keio University
The theme that left a deep impression on me was human security, the refugee issue being but one example. In my view, how humans treat and communicate with one another is a key issue. Being a member of the younger generation, we should start first by voting in elections and gaining a good grasp of international issues to see how they shape the world around us. As Japanese citizens, we also should be more aware of how Japan affects current events around the world.
- Discussing with university students about current status of SDGs -We will be in charge of the world of 2030 and beyond-
- World will not give up on the future.[Report on High-level Political Forum]
- Young people have the power to transform the world through their actions and ideas.
- Spreading bio jet fuel use by 2030 to clean up the world’s skies.
- Power to believe in the future,which will transform tomorrow.