High Level Political Forum

What is the HLPF (High Level Political Forum)? 

The High Level Political Forum (HLPF) is the main UN platform for monitoring and following up on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It was first held in 2013 and replaced the United Nations Council for Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which was established in 1992. The UN Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) holds the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) every July, while the UN General Assembly meets every 4 years to discuss on the implementation report and 5-6 specific SDGs goals tailored to the topic of the year. 

What is the VNR?

 For the HLPF (High Level Political Forum), all countries submit their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). The VNR is a voluntary process where all countries, developed and developing, share and analyze their challenges, experiences, and lessons learnt to contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

 As such, these institutionalized processes represent a sustained effort to ensure consistent and integrated support for the UN development programme. In line with these efforts, the international community completed the first inspection of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through four HLPF (High Level Political Forum) since the adoption of the SDGs in 2015. Also in 2019, the UN General Assembly presided over the forum, marking the completion of the first cycle since adoption. 

North Korea’s VNR

 North Korea participated in a Voluntary National Review (VNR) of its 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) under the UN Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) on July 13, 2021. By Participating in the VNR, North Korea demonstrates its willingness to implement international standards of the sustainable development and an actual commitment to do so. Furthermore, this implies the following implications. 

It is possible to confirm that North Korea is practically implementing the SDGs and has established an implementation mechanism.

It enables to determine North Korea’s strategic goals and priorities based on the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It provides data on the socioeconomic goals and indicators of North Korea after the full implementation of sanctions against the nation and the Pandemic crisis. 

 Nevertheless, North Korea’s 2021 VNR report also presents limitations. Instead of adopting the international norm SDGs as they are, the North Korean authorities have adapted and strategized them to address North Korea’s particular situation and legal system by linking it with North Korea’s NDGs. This approach may seem like an institutionalization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with national policy goals, but from a different perspective, the global SDGs are repurposed into a means of justifying North Korea’s strategic line and mobilizing internal resources.  

 Notwithstanding, it is nonetheless significant that the North Korean authorities, which had been extremely closed to the international community, are now seeking to flow with the international community by implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, the international community should continue seeking more constructive ways to improve cooperation in order to encourage North Korea’s willingness to implement SDGs. 

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