Agenda 2030 Cannot Continue to Fail for Another Five Years

*Women’s Groups in Asia Pacific Want COVID-19 Response in SDGs*

*Demand Reforms of SDGs Review Process*

21 July 2020

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Governments, and civil society organisations including women’s groups engaged in the United Nations High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a virtual two week meeting online from 7-17 July 2020. The digital divide in accessing and meaningfully engaging in the meeting was a significant challenge for women in Asia and the Pacific regions due connectivity issues and time difference.

Women’s groups are also concerned that this annual meeting to track the progress of SDGs is not taking into account the systemic causes of development injustices or our new challenges due to COVID19 pandemic. Azra Talat Sayeed from Root for Equity, Pakistan participated in the meeting and said, “Among the worst sufferers of the pandemic are the marginalised small, landless farmers and fisherfolk including women, a majority of whom are daily wagers. They are bearing the brunt of this public health crisis with negligible social security, the result of the failed global  neoliberal economic system that privileges the rich over the poor. Clearly the current SDGs process has failed to address or challenge the systems that oppress those at the margins.”

Many countries are pushing for public private partnerships to ‘build back better’ as a post-pandemic development agenda. Olga Djanaeva from ALGA, Kyrgyzstan expressed concern about continuing multilateral trade agreement discussions to achieve this problematic agenda, “We need a more just and equitable financial order that enables governments to adequately finance public services and support robust social protection systems to address COVID19 and avert similar future disasters. 

Focusing on the various challenges migrant workers are facing, Eni Lestari, International Migrants Alliance, Hong Kong added, “COVID19 has revealed our dependence on informal, undervalued workers who continue to deliver food, clean public spaces, keep our energy, water & sanitation going, without access to decent work and with risks of exposure, discrimination. Their vulnerability is caused by the same development agenda that governments seek to push through build back better. This is not acceptable to us.”

This year HLPF theme is supposed to be on Decade of Delivery of 2030 Agenda, but it ended with a failure of HLPF to deliver an outcome document. Seeking a reform of the SDGs review process which is called the ‘HLPF Reforms’, Wardarina from Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand said, “I am disappointed that discussions on HLPF Review negotiated by governments excluded civil society participation, and is at risk of siloed-approach to SDGs review. Also some member states took hostage of the negotiation process of Ministerial Declaration for issues that are critical for women from developing and least developing countries, such as climate change, debt relief, as well as gender based violence.”

The theme for HLPF 2021 will be on recovery from COVID-19, but the Goal 5 on gender equality, goal 13 on climate are not planned to be included in the discussions. Women’s groups demand a total reform of the High Level Political Forum that addresses the systemic issue of unfair economic governance, financing, corporate capture, land and resource grabbing, militarism and conflict as well as systems of oppression such as patriarchy, racism and casteism. 


Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) is a leading network of feminist organisations and grassroots activists in Asia Pacific. We have over 250 members representing groups of diverse women from 27 countries in Asia Pacific. Over the past 34 years, APWLD has actively worked towards advancing women’s human rights and Development Justice. We are an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation and hold consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Facebook:  Twitter:@apwld, Instagram: apwld_

About HLPF

The establishment of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) was mandated in 2012 by the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), “The Future We Want. The HLPF is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development and it has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level. Click here to know more.

Useful Links

  1. Watch live proceedings here
  2. Follow civil society reactions here
  3. Watch feminists and women’s rights defenders join the #Don’tRushChallenge to demand a feminist future

For further information, quotes and interviews please contact

Neha Gupta


Contact: +66 (0) 955 282 396

Languages: English, Hindi