Land and the SDGs: Key takeaways from the 2017 HLPF and what we need to do next
This was the clear and strong message that was brought by the land community into the major global forum on the SDGs, the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), which is the central platform for follow-up and review of the SDGs that take place every year in July in New York.
Several ILC Members engaged in the 2017 HLPF from 10 to 19 July, to strongly advocate on women land rights, and more specifically, to lobby various actors on the need to move the major SDGs land indicators toward their full implementations. Critical recommendations for the HLPF were developed by an Expert Group Meeting on Women Land Rights convened by GLII, UN Habitat, Oxfam, Landesa, Huairou Commission and UN Women that also involved other ILC members and the Global Secretariat. (See EGM statement here.)
The HLPF brought together nearly 2500 delegates, and 77 ministers, cabinet secretaries and deputy ministers and delivered a Ministerial Declaration referencing the importance of land rights and tenure governance. The 2017 HLPF focused on the thematic review of SDGs 1, 2, 3, 5, 9 and 14 and more than 40 Voluntary National Reviews. Additional background information on the HLPF and a detailed report on what happened at the 2017 HLPF can be found here.
Why is it critical for the land community to engage in the SDGs? What are the key takeaways from the 2017 HLPF?
The SDGs can provide a massive contribution to move us toward People-Centred Land Governance. The SDGs do not substitute the need to implement the VGGTs and other land-specific instruments, but can be used to: 1) Mobilize high level political will and commitment across all relevant governments` ministries, agencies and actors; 2) Ensure all governments measure progress on land rights through solid and comparable indicators and are hold accountable through adequate review mechanisms. However, to make this happen we need to scale up our efforts to influence relevant SDGs processes and key institutions at national and global levels.
The HLPF represents an important forum to track progress on the SDGs and ensure that land remains central in global agendas. However, most opportunities to harness the SDGs for progressing on land governance are at country level. The development of national implementation mechanisms, the increasing alignment of development partners on SDGs targets, the implementation of land indicators and Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) processes, represent important advocacy opportunities for land policies reforms at country level.
There is a risk that land will disappear from the global agenda if we do not take collective action within the next months and years. The global agenda is critical to ensure that land policy reforms at country level move forward. The HLPF is an important space to reach key decision makers beyond those normally dealing with land issues. In order to keep land high in non-thematic forums like the HLPF, it is critical to frame our messages for a political audience. Furthermore, it is critical that the land indicators will be fully implemented. In fact, without indicators land will never be included in UN progress reports and major SDGs-related policy debates.
So, what we need to do next?
In November, there will be a crucial meeting on the SDGs’ land indicators. In fact, the Inter-Agency Expert Group on the SDGs which is composed of 27 Countries will meet to decide whether the land indicators will move toward their full implementation. We will need your help to make this happen! We will get in touch with relevant NES and Members in the next weeks to see how relevant countries can be influenced. In the long term, we will need all countries to invest in adequate resources and have the political will to collect data for the land indicators. In fact, those indicators will be a critical tool for our advocacy work at national, regional and global levels.
The land community should increase its efforts in targeting SDGs processes at national and global levels. In 2018, the HLPF will review four goals that are very relevant for the land community: the goals 5 (water); 11 (human settlement); 12 (Sustainable consumption and production) and 15 (life on land). We need to ensure that the 2018 HLPF will deliver strong and actionable recommendations to move the world forward on land rights. Furthermore, in 2018, several countries are expected to deliver their VNRs in 2018 that normally should be an outcome of all stakeholders` consultations at country level.
Graphic: Diagram indicating the link between land and each of the SDGs. Source: International Land Coalition.