HIC Members Review Peru’s SDG Progress
In June and July 2020, HIC Members engaged in Peru’s National Voluntary Review (VNR) on the progress of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) held at UN Headquarters. The HLPF was conceived as a platform to review the performance of the SDG commitments, including the full and effective participation of Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGOS) of civil society according to General Assembly resolution 67/290. This HLPF provided an opportunity for Peru’s civil society of Peru, including HIC Members in Latin America (HIC-AL) such as CIDAP and DESCO, to strengthen their advocacy work on improving public policy in the State of Peru consistent with SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
HIC-AL and the Housing and Land Rights Network contributed to civil society advocacy consistent with HIC’s Human Rights Habitat Observatory approach and the urging of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to highlight states’ human rights obligations in the SDG review of each country.
The collaboration of HIC’s Housing and Land Rights Network coordinator provided significant support in analyzing Peru’s VNR with CIDAP and DESCO and formulating the recommendations. They noted that the VNR actually bore no relation to the 2030 Agenda, the SDG, its goals, indicators or the standard guidelines for reporting to the HLPF. Instead, it gave a presentation only on the current policy mechanisms operating in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, as if written for another purpose. In assessing the VNR of Peru, HLRN had to extract passages from the official report first to interpret them within the specific SDGs to the extent possible.
Locally, CIDAP and DESCO worked with other representatives of Peruvian civil society to focus their advocacy efforts on three official spaces of VNR engagement: the National Agreement, the Coordination Council to Combat Poverty and the National Assembly of Regional Governments. However, because of their constitution and performance, those bodies were insufficient to represent the civil society of Peru. The civil organizations also presented their recommendations directly to the Permanent Mission of Peru to the UN and the Resident Coordinator of the UN System in Peru, as well as through the MGOS at the HLPF.
The government presentation at the HLPF on 13 July (1:09:30) also had little to do with the SDGs. Nonetheless, the joint NGO statement to the HLPF responded by presenting Peru as a state with an economy based on extractivism, without regard to its human rights obligations or its sustainable-development commitments. Although the VNR provided no criteria whatsoever for assessing SDG progress, the organizations still asked the delegation in writing to explain how the state allocates resources to ensure that the most vulnerable in society benefit from public policies and services, in particular as priorities are redefined in the post-COVID-19 era. They also raised a question as to how the state will meet the urgent challenge of data collection to ensure proper policies and coverage of services where most needed, focusing also on the urgency to mitigate climate change and implement the Escazú Agreement on access to information, participation and justice in environmental matters.
In the following interactive dialogue (1:32:29), Spain replied by praising the Peruvian VNR presentation as “brilliant,” and Ecuador asked Peru to explain the contribution of civil society to the VNR. The Major Groups took the floor on behalf of civil society, referring to the unaddressed structural obstacles to SDG achievements and asking how, correspondingly to those structural causes, Peru is mitigating climate change and meeting pandemic challenges. The Peruvian delegation responded to Ecuador’s question by explaining that the National Agreement was an extra-governmental process that provided civil society participation with authorities in local, regional and national spheres of government. The delegation admitted the need now to prioritize on improvement of currently poor health, education, water and transport, made clearer in the COVID pandemic. However, questions as to how the country’s performance related to the SDG commitments, human rights obligations and structural obstacles to development remained unanswered.