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Between 5-15 July 2022, the United Nations will hold its annual High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The HLPF is the preeminent United Nations (UN) platform on sustainable development and plays a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level.
The theme for the 2022 HLPF is “Building back better from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while advancing the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The programme will seek to identify policies, strategies and actions to overcome the pandemic and its impacts while initiating the momentum, international solidarity and multilateral cooperation needed to accelerate the realization of the SDGs.
The HLPF was formed in 2012 to address the need for an improved and more effective institutional framework for sustainable development that addresses the shortcomings of the current system, takes into account all relevant implications, promotes synergies and coherence, and builds on existing arrangements. Critically, the HLPF aims to ensure the appropriate consideration of new and emerging sustainable development challenges.
When the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted in 2015, it neglected to include eye health or preventable sight loss, despite the magnitude and cross-cutting nature of the problem. The eye health sector can support the implementation of the 2030 In Sight Strategy and play a significant role at the global policy level by utilizing the HLPF to elevate eye health as a worldwide development issue; one that is a major contributor to inequalities as well as an outcome, and integral to achieving the 2030 Agenda.
By promoting the role of eye health as a human development issue at HLPF, the sector can unlock political will and funding across global and national development agendas, plans and policies. This includes strengthening targeted people-centred interventions, improving accessibility through service expansion, increased funding to develop new evidence-based research, and establishing new measurable targets and monitoring and accountability mechanisms.
The sector’s commitment to sustainable development should not be limited to health. It is in the interest of everyone working in eye health to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda since every one of the 17 SDGs is critical to the realisation of the others. Moreover, raising awareness around preventable sight loss at HLPF will help ensure it is included in the next global development agenda. This once in a generation opportunity can unlock commitment and collective power for the eye care sector
The HLPF will result in the adoption of intergovernmental negotiated political declarations. The President of ECOSOC will also prepare a summary to capture the key messages of the discussions. It is critical that language around eye health and its role in achieving the SDGs be included in these outcome policy documents.
Here are ways you can help ensure eye health plays a significant role at the HLPF and in sustainable development policies:
In the lead up to HLPF, Regional Forums for Sustainable Development are convened by the Regional Commissions. The regional forums assess progress and exchange knowledge, good practices and policy solutions to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, in line with regional priorities and specificities. There are five regional forums for sustainable development, one in each region where the UN regional economic commissions work.
The HLPF provides a platform for member states to share country-led and country-driven Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). The VNRs are the cornerstone of the follow-up and review framework of the 2030 Agenda and allow for the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned at the national and sub-national level. They culminate in a country report to and presentation at the HLPF. IAPB has developed a VNR lobbying letter template for national-level engagement and encourage members to reach out to government contacts.
The Friends of Vision group at the UN aims to advance the issue of eye health within the context of the SDGs, to raise its profile on the international agenda, and to share knowledge from the sector with and among Member States. It has developed a strong and credible voice in UN political processes, most notably with the universal adoption of the UN resolution on Vision (2021). The During HLPF, the Friends of Vision holds an official side event, focusing on at least one of the spotlight SDGs, in order to embed eye health within development discussions and policies. IAPB members can participate in these events as well as promote them throughout their networks and ministerial contacts.
Be part of an important event taking place on the margins of the 2022 HLPF by joining the UN Friends of Vision for, ‘If you struggle to see, you struggle to learn.” An in-depth discussion on school-based health programmes as the primary institutional pathway for providing critical eye health to children around the world on a regular basis. Experts will address how comprehensive School Health Programmes could be the single best approach to providing comprehensive eye health services to potentially more than 700 million children throughout the world and accelerating the achievement of SDG 4 – Quality Education.
Focus on Child Eye Health engages some of the world’s best and brightest thought leaders throughout the year to share knowledge, inspire action, discuss ideas and push Child Eye Health to the forefront of pressing development issues. It is supported by CooperVision.