Top 10 Sessions to Watch from the HLPF on Sustainable Development

StartingUpGood Magazine
4 min readAug 7, 2020


By Ben Kickert

This article has been adapted from work completed by our sister initiative SDGCounting. You can view the original post here. See our additional coverage of the SDGs here.

Today we continue our ongoing coverage of the 2020 High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the SDGs. In previous articles we looked at the major themes and the most important resources released. Here we are sharing recordings of the event’s top sessions that you can watch to get the most important perspectives on the Global Goals, particularly as they relate to data.

Opening Session of the 2020 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

As with most UN events, some of the most significant themes and developments are shared in the opening sessions. In this case it includes the official launch of the Decade of Action, remarks from Mona Juul, President of the Economic and Social Council, and global perspectives from a wide variety of experts and practitioners on success and challenges around the Sustainable Development Goals with a particular focus on the impact of COVID-19.

Data for a Decade of Action: A Conversation with Francesca Perucci and Jeffrey Sachs

If you only watch one side-event from the HLPF, we recommend this one put on by Devex. Francesca Perucci from the UN Statistics Division shares how COVID-19 has affected data around the Global Goals while also explaining what steps will be necessary to get back on track. Jeffrey Sachs from UN Sustainable Development Solutions Networks talks about the newly launched SDGs Today dashboard and how it is using real time data to understand the 2030 Agenda.

The Importance of SME Financing to COVID-19 Response & Recovery Efforts

Those interested in how business can contribute to achieving the SDGs should be sure to check out this session. It goes in depth on the contributions of the SDG500 Program which we have previously written about.

IISD Forum Review

The International Institute for Sustainable Development has long been one of our favorite sources for news related to the Global Goals. In this one hour webinar, they break down their views on the most important information and developments coming out of the HLPF.

Charting Pathways out of Poverty with the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

The Multidimensional Poverty Index Report from OPHI and UNDP was one of the most important resources released at the HLPF. It looks at 10 indicators across three dimensions (Health, Education, Standard of Living) to track poverty. Of particular note, this presentation discusses how COVID-19 has impacted these targets with some troubling predictions on how the pandemic will set back progress.

Civil Society and Global Sustainable Development Report

In our list of top 10 reports and resources to check out related to the HLPF we mentioned the Global Sustainable Development Report and how it brings scientific expertise to achieving the Global Goals. This session goes in depth about progress in that regard with an emphasis on the role of Civil Society making meaningful contributions to the 2030 Agenda.

Addressing the SDG Data Gap through Corporate Sustainability Data

This event put on by CDP looks at how data gathered, and help by businesses, can be leveraged to track progress on the Global Goals. Attention is given to the possibilities and current challenges related to this integration.

National Reports on the 2030 Agenda: What do they (not) reveal?

A cornerstone of the HLPF is the presentation of Voluntary National Reviews. While these reports give countries the chance to share their unique perspective on working towards the 2030 Agenda, they also reveal a lot about divergent priorities. This session from UN DESA looks into what is being reported on in the VNRs and what is being left out.

Will the SDGs Still be Relevant after the Pandemic for Persons with Disabilities?

While holding the HLPF and its side events virtually presented some new challenges, it also opened up the possibility for interested parties to follow and participate in sessions they may have previously missed. We found this technical transition amplified the voice of many stakeholders. A great example is this session from Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities and International Disability Alliance related to how COVID-19 is affecting persons with disabilities.

Accelerating Post COVID Recovery Using Data Revolution

Rounding out our top 10 is this session from UNDP looking at the role quality data plays in global development, especially as it relates to the disruptions caused and revealed by the current pandemic. The panel consists of a wide variety of voices from on-the-ground practitioners to leaders in multi-lateral response.

We consider the sessions above to be the best of the best. However, countless plenary and side sessions were recorded and are available for viewing. Many more that did not make our list can be found here.

Ben Kickert has worked in international development and data analytics for 15 years. He currently works as a consultant providing insights around the Sustainable Development Goals and Impact Investing.



StartingUpGood Magazine

Supporting fresh entrepreneurial approaches to do good in the world. Check out our magazine: