The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was held from Monday, 10 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023, in New York under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council . This included the three-day ministerial segment of the forum from Monday, 17 July, to Wednesday, 19 July 2023 as part of the High-level Segment of the Council. The last day of the High-level Segment of ECOSOC was on Thursday, 20 July 2023.
The theme was" Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”.
The HLPF in 2023, without prejudice to the integrated, indivisible and interlinked nature of the SDGs, will also review in-depth Goals 6 on clean water and sanitation, 7 on affordable and clean energy, 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, 11 on sustainable cities and communities, and 17 on partnerships for the Goals.
Indigenous Peoples at the HLPF side events:
“Mining for Clean Energy Technologies: Unveiling the Impacts to Indigenous Peoples” - 12 July 2023
Co-organized by Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples (REP) and Oxfam, this event highlighted the impacts of mining transition minerals on Indigenous Peoples, and how the transition to renewable energy and sustainable development should not result in environmental damage and violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
The extraction and processing of the minerals used to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy often occur in territories inhabited by Indigenous Peoples who rely on them for their cultural, social, and economic well-being. The event highlighted cases of violations of Indigenous rights and environmental degradation in Chile and the Philippines, as well as the use of child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Overall, there is a need for a structural change aimed at minimizing the negative impacts on communities and the environment while supporting the growth of clean technologies: all mining companies need to adopt strong policies on free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) and commit not to proceed without respecting Indigenous Peoples’ rights, ensuring transparency, and protecting environmental sustainability. Furthermore, considering that Indigenous Peoples often support their own transition to sustainability, it is essential to ensure complete, participatory, and Indigenous-led FPIC processes, while acting strongly against human rights violations.
“No SDGs – No Land Rights” - 12 July 2023
The event co-organized by SDG Land Momentum Group, ILC and IWGIA with participants from Oxfam, Transparency International and Landesahas placed crucial importance on land rights in achieving the 2030 agenda due to the interconnectedness of the goals and the implications and effects of land rights, while raising awareness of reporting to effectively track progress.
The key land targets and indicators mentioned include target 1.4 on ensuring that “all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources and basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property” and target 5.a on equal rights for women to these resources, equal access to ownership and control over land.
In line with the aforementioned targets, ensuring land as a fundamental right is particularly important for the most vulnerable populations, especially Indigenous Peoples, who face daily forced displacements and suppression of their rights, lack of free, prior and informed consent and the lack of acknowledgement of their own rights. Land rights inequity is at the heart of unequal societies, and “land is where everything begins” according to OXFAM.
The importance of reporting to track progress and ultimately achieve the SDGs was also a focus of this event. Less than 20% of the countries who agreed on SDGs ever reported on land indicator 1.4.2 on “Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.” Of these countries that reported on the indicator, only a few made explicit references to women, and even fewer to Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists, ethnic minorities, IDPs or other vulnerable populations. This lack of effective reporting contributes to the invisibility and marginalization of these groups, their reality, and specific needs.
“Implementing Indigenous Peoples Rights, Key to Accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals” - 14 July 2023
Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples International Centre for Policy Research and Education), Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development (IPMG), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and Indigenous Navigator (IN) organized this event to acknowledge that the collective efforts and rights of Indigenous Peoples are instrumental in the effective implementation and success of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Indigenous Peoples rights’ violations cannot continue occurring in the name of sustainable development: the SDGs are interconnected, and therefore the SDGs cannot be tackled individually but rather holistically.
The event highlighted the initiative of the Indigenous Navigator - an Indigenous-led data tool that monitors rights in relation to the SDGs, helping Indigenous Peoples to recognize and identify their situation, their needs and priorities, and develop projects in a sustainable way. So far the tool has helped to develop 58 community-led SDG-related projects.
Examples were provided from Tanzania and the Philippines, where the Indigenous Navigator identified continuous violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights, in particular on land, territories and resources, and a need for inclusion in decision-making processes and awareness and realization of the rights, particularly those of Indigenous women and youth.
“Accelerating SDG7 Implementation and Reaching the Last Mile through Indigenous-led Renewable Energy Initiatives” - 13 July 2023
The event co-organized by Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples (REP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) has highlighted the importance of not only transitioning to renewable energy in a sustainable and just way but also of providing access to clean energy for Indigenous Peoples and of protecting their rights during such processes.
Midway through the implementation of the agenda 2030, focusing on the SDG7 “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, Indigenous Peoples are still among those who have no access to energy as most are located in remote locations. The event highlighted rights-based Indigenous-led renewable energy initiatives in partnership with UN agencies such as International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Some examples have been mentioned out of the numerous projects arising from such partnerships which focus on providing access to clean energy, clean water, and sustainable livelihood all while preserving cultural heritage and natural environments.
Combining the traditional knowledge systems with science and technology has contributed to multiple benefits all while empowering communities and transforming their lives. Indigenous Peoples are leading actors in the sustainable transition, and their knowledge can inspire positive change that is needed in many levels of society.