7th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development 2020: Explaining this year’s set-up from the perspective of modality and significance for the High-level Political Forum.

Briefing Note

The 7th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (7APFSD) is due to take place on 25-27 March 2020 at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. One of the significant differences to preceding APFSD forums (at least from 2017) is that the APFSD7 does not have any cluster of goals under review. This reflects a decision at the global level indicating that the 2020 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) will not have any set of goals, but instead will focus on “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.”

This is not as friendly as some people wish, because it was common knowledge for those who do not follow procedural details of the UN meetings, that there was always a cluster of goals. For the wider audience, this piece will answer the simple question of why there have been selected goals under review in the past but not this year. To do so, this explanation inevitably expands to the original legal mandate of the HLPF in detail and looks at how member states decided the relationship with other conferences and meetings, including the APFSD. Also, it touches on what is likely to be the focus of this year’s APFSD in the absence of HLPF detailed focus points and aims to provide additional background information. By so doing, this piece intends to inform the general audience of how and why the APFSD is framed, in the way it is, and how much weight the HLPF carries in setting the global sustainability agenda. For those who are experienced but did not pay much attention to APFSD in the past, this piece aims to indicate why it is worth paying attention to it so as to predict the framework for the HLPF.

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