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What to Look Out for After HLPF 2018: Secretary-General António Guterres’ Closing Remarks

On Wednesday, July 18, 2018, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres gave his closing remarks at the end of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development. The High Level Political Forum reviews the progress of Member States towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 Agenda [1]. HLPF 2018 concentrated on reviewing Goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17 [2]. Secretary-General Guterres discussed the achievements and improvements needed to complete the SDGs while incorporating the 2018 HLPF theme ‘Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies’ in what he hopes to achieve in the future [3 and 4].

Secretary-General António Guterres at the High-Level Political Forum 2018.

Secretary-General Guterres congratulated Member States for the reduction in maternal and child mortality, the expansions of basic education, the improvement to access to electricity and more [5]. He called for the continued efforts of multilateralism and the inclusion of civil society, the private sector, and academia in progressing further towards the SDGs [6]. Yet, he was quick to address the issues that needed to be worked on to have full inclusivity of all persons and to ensure human dignity for all so that no one gets left behind. Conflicts needed to be transformed, climate change needs to be addressed, inequality has to decrease, human rights must be protected, the global humanitarian crisis must be solved, and pockets of hunger and poverty cannot continue to be persistent.

To “embed the essence of the 2030 Agenda into everything that we do,” Mr. Guterres suggested five “essential pathways” [7].

1. Using the Transformative Power of Young People

This pathway will be set into motion when the UN Strategy on Youth is launched in September 2018 [8]. The UN Strategy on Youth will “prioritize young people” through [9]:

  • Youth engagement

  • Participation and advocacy

  • Solid and healthy foundations

  • Economic empowerment

  • Human rights

  • Peace and resilience building

Education is also an important aspect to using young people and implementing the SDGs because it is a tool to teach and access empowerment, gender equality, decent work for all, and changing our production, consumption, and way of living [10].

2. Reduce and Control Greenhouse Emissions

Although the Paris Agreement from 2015 created a steady foundation to improve and combat climate change through addressing items including mitigation, the long-term temperature goal, climate change education and public access to information, Mr. Guterres claims that there is insufficient political will to meet commitments from the Paris Agreement [11]. A social and economic transformation, consisting of an industrial and energy revolution, which we are unable to do at the moment, is needed to achieve commitments in the Paris Agreement [12].

United Nations Paris Agreement 2015, France.

To accelerate climate action for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Secretary-General will convene a Climate Summit in September 2019 [13].

3. Address the Funding Gaps for SDG Investments

In September 2018, Mr. Guterres will convene a High-level Meeting on Financing the 2030 Agenda [14]. In the meantime, he urges countries to mobilize their internal resources [15]. The international community should support said countries by fighting illicit flows of capital, money laundering, and tax evasion [16].

4. Use of Technology for the SDGs

Mr. Guterres warns that technology can be a “root of exclusion and inequality” [17]. Nonetheless, we should harness the benefits of technology for all persons [18]. He has established a High-level Panel on Cooperation which will meet in September 2018 during the UN General Assembly in New York, and again in January 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland [19].

General-Secretary Guterres established the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation on July 12, 2018.

The Panel will have 20 members and Melinda Gates, the Co-Chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jack Ma, the Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, are the two Co-Chairs [20]. The Panel will “advance proposals to strengthen cooperation in the digital space among Governments, the private sector, civil society, international organizations, academia, the technical community and other relevant stakeholders” [21].

Some goals of the Panel are to [22]:

  • Raise awareness of the transformative impact of digital technologies

  • Devise new efforts on how to ensure a safe and inclusive digital future for all

  • Gather views and proposals of Member States, relevant industries, civil society and academia through consultations

  • Identify policy, research and information gaps

  • Improve interdisciplinary action on digital technologies

  • Present proposals to strengthen cooperation in the digital space

  • Stimulate discussion among and between various stakeholder groups

At the end, the Panel will submit a report about the above-mentioned items [23].

5. Strengthen Institutions

Without strong institutions, the SDGs will not be implemented to their full ability. All institutions must “realize all human rights and strengthen the trust on which social cohesion is built” [24]. To achieve this, institutions must follow the proceeding principles “to deliver the 2030 Agenda” [25]:

  • Justice

  • Effectiveness

  • Transparency

  • Accountability

  • Participation

Secretary-General Guterres reminded everyone that “development also plays a very important role in creating the conditions for resilient societies and a peaceful world. But development is an end in itself and it must be a central objective of the action of the UN” [26]. With clear objectives for the upcoming years, he urged the excellencies to “leave this Forum with a fresh commitment to work together, to share innovative solutions” and to demonstrate “decisive actions” for the transformations needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda [27]. Hopefully, we will be able to see successful action to reduce climate change, higher incorporation and rights for young people to work towards SDGs, and transformative action for a more complete implementation of SDGs. To further support the culture of peace and the Sustainable Development Goals, check out what Nonviolence International NY has been doing:

To learn more about the High Level Political Forum 2018 go to:


[1] “High Level Political Forum 2018,” Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, United Nations,

[2] “High Level Political Forum 2018.”

[3] “António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF),” UN Web TV: The United Nations Live & On Demand, July 18, 2018,

Text can be found at: António Guterres, “Remarks at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development,” July 18, 2018,

[4] “High Level Political Forum 2018.”

[5] “António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF).”

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Dr. Natalia Kanem, “Young People at the Centre,” July 20, 2018,

[10] “António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF).”

[11] “What is the Paris Agreement?,” United Nations Climate Change,

[12] “António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF).”

[13] “2019 Climate Summit Strategy Retreat,” April 2018, International Renewable Energy Agency,

[14] “António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF).”

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Leila Mead, “UN Secretary-General Appoints High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation,” IISD, July 18, 2018,

[20] “Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation,”

[21] “Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.”

[22] “Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation.”

[23] Ibid.

[24] “António Guterres (UN Secretary-General) at closing of High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (2018 HLPF).”

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Ibid.

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