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Latin-America and the Caribbean at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2023: Accelerating progress towards a sustainable future

12 July 2023|Briefing note

This month, countries come together at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to take stock of progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Photo of the UN headquarters in New York
the UN headquarters in New York

The theme of the annual HLPF this year is “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. Delegates will discuss recovery measures to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SDGs and explore policy pathways to accelerate action for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The HLPF 2023 will review in-depth five SDGs, namely SDG 6 (Clean water and sanitation), SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation, and infrastructure), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals) and pave the way to the SDG Summit to be convened in September in New York during the high-level week of the United Nations General Assembly.

A part of the follow-up and review mechanism of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, 39 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) will be presented at the 2023 HLPF, including four from the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, namely St. Kitts & Nevis for the first time, Barbados and Guyana for the second time, and Chile for the third time. The VNRs aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, as well as strengthen policies and government institutions and mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the acceleration of the SDGs.

As every year, ECLAC is working in close collaboration with the other United Nations Regional Commissions towards a harmonized regional approach at the HLPF and jointly organizes a variety of events, interventions, knowledge products and videos, including the plenary session entitled “Messages from the Regions - Mobilizing regional action and leveraging regional frameworks to support countries in overcoming crises and moving on to recovery and full implementation of the 2030 Agenda” to take place on 18th July. Furthermore, ECLAC will host several official HLPF side events, also in collaboration with Member States and other actors from the region, including one on “Transformative policy actions to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the green energy transition and related industries” to take place on 12th July from 13:00 – 14:30, New York Time (GMT-4), which can be accessed here.

SDG targets by their likelihood to reach threshold established for 2030 in LAC region


Halfway to 2030: Regional progress and challenges regarding the 2030 Agenda

Halfway to 2030, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the international economic and geopolitical context present challenging prospects for achieving the SDGs in Latin America and Caribbean by 2030. Only 25% of SDG targets are projected to be met by 2030, 48% of targets demonstrate a positive trend but at an insufficient pace to be implemented by 2030, whereas the remaining 27% are backsliding. The results differ significantly between goals, and among the five goals under in-depth review this year, SDG 6 and SDG 11 are at higher risk to not be achieved by 2030, while SDG 7, SDG 9 and SDG 17 are better positioned to be achieved by 2030. 

  • SDG 6: In 2020, 161 million people did not have access to safely managed drinking water and 431 million lacked access to safely managed sanitation. ECLAC estimates that investing 1.3% of regional GDP annually over a 10-year period, with current technical capacities, would universalize access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation (Read more in the SDG6 Regional Overview 2023).

  • SDG 7: The region has made progress on electricity access, with 97.6% of the population having it in 2021. However, 16.1 million people still lack electricity, most of them live in rural and remote areas. ECLAC urges Latin American and Caribbean countries to accelerate the transition towards renewable and clean energy sources, electrify the energy matrix, improve energy efficiency, and universalize coverage. (Read more in the SDG7 Regional Overview 2023)

  • SDG 9: Four of the seven targets for which information is available have been met or will be met by 2030. The region can enhance collaboration and create new production chains to promote productivity. Building a sustainable industry requires partnerships among diverse stakeholders on different levels. This can enable the region to advance resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and innovation. (Read more in the SDG9 regional Overview 2023)

  • SDG 11: By 2030, an estimated 86.5% of South America’s population will live in cities, making it the most urban region of the developing world. Advancing towards the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda in cities inevitably involves addressing the urban gaps in three dimensions —social, economic, and environmental. (Read more in the SDG11 Regional Overview 2023)

  • SDG 17: Latin American and Caribbean countries have made progress in incorporating the SDGs into their development plans. ECLAC emphasizes the need for these countries to make more efforts and improve policy coordination to mobilize resources for the 2030 Agenda and optimize tax collection. (Read more in the SDG regional Overview 2023)

From addressing clean water and sanitation to promoting sustainable cities and communities, the ECLAC report “Halfway to 2030 in Latin America and the Caribbean: progress and recommendations for acceleration” analyses progress made on each goal under review this year. It shares concrete recommendations for acceleration and highlights the urgent need for increased investment and financing, as well as a paradigm shift in public policymaking with forward-looking policies and meaningful multi-stakeholder engagement.

To accelerate SDG implementation and address the structural challenges hindering the region’s sustainable development, ECLAC has identified seven initiatives, which if implemented at scale, can drive forward transformative change, produce synergies and multiplying effects towards the simultaneous implementation of several SDGs. The initiatives include: The energy transition and related industries; the bioeconomy: sustainable agriculture and bio-industrialization; the digital transformation; promoting exports of Internet-enabled modern services; the care society and gender equality; sustainable tourism; and regional integration.