Realising Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 5, including universal access to sexual and reproductive health, is key for sustainable development and a pre-requisite for progress on all other SDGs. These two SDGs, which are inherently and strongly connected, were under thematic review in 2017 and therefore at the centre of attention at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). This was a great opportunity for Countdown 2030 Europe (C2030E) partners to advocate with their governments and other Member States to reflect upon their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Family Planning (SRH/FP)-related indicators, best practices and lessons learned, as well as gaps and challenges in improving SRH/FP.
Last July, representatives from governments and civil society from around the world gathered again at the HLPF in New York to review progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The HLPF includes, besides the thematic review, the presentations of 44 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) that governments from all regions had conducted. Countdown 2030 Europe members were engaged and active at the forum, which wrapped up on July 19 with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration.
C2030E members contributed in several ways, including as part of their governments’ delegations. The Danish Family Planning Association was given the opportunity to speak during Denmark’s VNR presentation, together with the Danish Minister of Finance, and used this as a chance to present access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), modern contraceptives and LGBT rights as best practices for achieving SDGs 3 and 5 and sustainable development.
C3020E members were actively involved in side-events on SRH/FP, and worked closely with their delegations to speak out strongly for their commitment to SDG 3 and 5. An example is the cross-regional like-minded statement, in support of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, which was delivered by the Netherlands during the thematic review of SDG 3 and supported by Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Uruguay.
Reflecting on our engagement this year, C2030E believes that the HLPF is an important forum to track progress on the SDGs and to hold our governments accountable for their commitments, both domestically and internationally, to SRH/FP. While as an accountability mechanism the forum is still developing and has much to improve, it offers an important space for governments, civil society and other stakeholders to exchange best practices and lessons learned, reflect on challenges and identify gaps in implementation of the SDGs.