Top Resources from the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

StartingUpGood Magazine
5 min readJul 29, 2020


This article has been adapted from work completed by our sister initiative SDGCounting. You can view the full article here.

The 2020 United Nations High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development is the major UN platform for review of the 2030 Agenda. In addition to the main sessions, numerous side events were held highlighting specific topics related to the Global Goals — from data and measurement challenges to stakeholder focused advocacy to business action on the Goals, etc.

Today, we explore the most significant reports and resources that were released or referenced during the HLPF that have implications for startups and impact investing.

The Sustainable Development Goals Report: 2020

Undoubtedly, every year the most important document released in conjunction with the HLPF is the Sustainable Development Goals Report. This report highlights the most significant successes and challenges around each of the 17 Global Goals. High quality infographics are accompanied by detailed narrative to draw your attention to the most essential details around the 2030 Agenda. If you only read one report coming out of the HLPF, read this one. It is available for download here.

SDGs Today Website

Every year new dashboard and data tools are released to assist users in understanding and tracking the SDGs. While many are useful, few provide the new functionality and insight of the SDGs Today website. This tool, launched by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network with the help of Esri, links users with real-time data around all the Global Goals by incorporating non-traditional datasets to provide unique and up to date insights. Topics such as wealth distribution and investment in the Global Goals is included. Definitely a resource you want to check out. View it here.

SDG Ambition: Introducing Business Benchmarks for the Decade of Action

The UN Global Compact is a “voluntary initiative based on CEO commitments to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.” It serves as an important touch point between the business community and the international development community.

Originally launched at Davos in 2020, this document encourages companies to embrace the benchmarks of the SDGs by incorporating business practices that support and document sustainable development. It can be downloaded here.

Leadership for the Decade of Action: A study of the characteristics of sustainable business leaders

As a more practical follow up to the SDG Ambition document, this report seeks to address:

“How can organizations make sustainability core to the DNA of their leadership teams?”

To answer this, 55 interviews were conducted with sustainability pioneers in the business community. The findings can be read in the full report.

Global MPI 2020 — Charting pathways out of multidimensional poverty: Achieving the SDGs

The SDGs are notable for their broad scope. Even when looking at a single area of global development such as poverty, an appreciation of the cross-indicator implications is essential. The Multidimensional Poverty Index by OPHI and UNDP provides just that. This 2020 report tracks poverty across three dimensions (Health, Education, and Standard of Living) and 10 indicators showing trends and projections. This year’s report also takes into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with possible scenarios of how it will affect global poverty. Download the full report here.

Voluntary National Review Reports: What do they (not) reveal

Each year countries are invited to share their progress on the SDGs through the VNR process. At the 2020 HLPF, 47 countries submitted their reports. These documents provide unique perspectives on the progress and challenges faced by countries across the globe. The full list of VNRs submitted this year is available in the VNR Database. In addition to the VNRs themselves, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs has released a report analyzing how the national reviews reflect the targets and indicators within the Global Goals. Their report is available here.

Towards the Localization of the SDGs: How to accelerate transformative actions in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak

While the SDGs are global in scope, local leadership is essential to the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The COVID-19 pandemic has made this reality even more evident. This report from the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments along with the United Cities and Local Governments highlights best practices, lessons learned and recommendations for local entities working to advance the SDGs. This year’s report pays particular attention to the impact of COVID-19 and the steps necessary to overcome the setbacks. It can be read here.

We will continue our reporting on the HLPF in the coming days by highlighting some of the best sessions that can be viewed in full for those wishing to catch up on important content.

For more detailed coverage, check out SDGCounting’s archived twitter feed and Medium publication.



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