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Far from Exclusive: Why should Local Peacebuilders participate in the High-Level Political Forum?

The High-Level Political Forum, short for HLPF, sounds really exclusive, don’t you think? Like a faraway pompous space, where a bunch of older white men meet to make elitist decisions about other people’s lives. Truth be told, that was how I imagined the HLPF to look like when I first heard about it. 

That is now over three years ago, and my perception of the HLPF has completely changed. I must admit that it is far away from being a snobbish happening. It is not elitist nor disconnected from the local realities of people. The High-Level Political Forum is actually extremely relevant and useful to our community of local peacebuilders. Let me tell you why.

The HLPF is the global platform for mobilising action on sustainable development. It is the moment in the year where the world checks in on the progress made on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I will not go into details on the SDGs (click here if you would like detailed information), but I would like to emphasize that the SDGs, at their core, set a collective goal for our world - for peace, climate and humanity. What could be more momentous and stimulating?

Every July, our peacebuilding colleagues, our peacebuilding allies and partners, and all other actors determined to reach this collective goal meet during the HLPF to share experiences and discuss new and emerging issues. It is the perfect space to (re)-connect and build partnerships. Because let’s face it, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are extremely ambitious and cannot be achieved alone. 

That’s where you come in. Yes, you. Let me share our member Justine’s experience to give you an idea of what I am talking about. During the HLPF of 2019 and 2020, Justine shared recommendations from her research on tracking progress on peace, justice and strong institutions (also known as SDG16+) in Cameroon. After an online event organised by GPPAC, she connected with the UN Peace and Development Advisor (PDA) in Cameroon. Today, Justine and the PDA continue to explore opportunities for building local peace structures together. Justine’s experience shows that participating in the HLPF provides opportunities to strengthen partnerships towards collective action.

There are so many different ways to participate and the virtual format of the HLPF is great for attracting more visibility to your work. Do you want to learn more, without having anything specific to share? Great, just listen in! Do you want to share recommendations and best practices? Fantastic, raise your voice during discussions! I recognize that digital gaps remain and limit the participation, especially of those living in the most remote areas, still, the virtual space provides a unique opportunity for so many people to gather to have a truly impactful conversation.

Looking back, I learned a great deal from listening to the experiences of other peacebuilders during the HLPF and imparted some of that knowledge in my daily work. It is not only a fantastic space to share, but also to learn and get inspired to think outside the box. I have come to understand that the HLPF is a space full of opportunity, creativity and hope. Yet, it can only become that space if YOU participate. If you decide to share your experiences and expertise. If you speak up and tell the truth to power. After all, it is you who knows best what is needed to build peaceful, sustainable and inclusive societies. Will you sign up too?

The High-Level Political Forum usually stretches out for several days. This year it will take place between 6 and 15 July with various virtual events. I encourage you to sign up here.

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