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UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development kicks off

  UNITED NATIONS, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will take stock of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), kicked off on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York.

  Marie Chatardova, president of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), opened the forum, calling it an opportunity to look back on the "tremendous achievements" of the Sustainable Development Goals.

  More than 80 ministers and vice ministers, as well as 2,500 non-state actors, will be attending the forum that is scheduled to conclude on July 18, she said.

  Emphasizing that the goals must "inspire everyone to aim high," she said that during her term as chair, the Council explored how to give people a say in decisions that impacted their lives.

  "The worst thing is not that the world is unfree, but that people have unlearned their liberty," she quoted Czech-born writer Milan Kundera as saying, adding that too many people have unlearned their right to engage in policy and decision making.

  Reviewing the forum's many preparatory meetings, she said that the secretary-general's report on progress towards the goals clearly "indicates the need to step up efforts and to better target the goals at the areas and people still lagging behind."

  On the forum's program of work, she said, a full session will be dedicated to each of the six goals up for review this year. The six goals to be reviewed include goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17.

  The forum will also discuss its theme for this year -- "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies" -- and, next week, consider a record 47 voluntary national reviews submitted by member states.

  Three years after the goals were adopted, many countries, businesses and civil society organizations have mobilized to take actions that will help achieve the goals.

  The establishment of the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was mandated in 2012 by the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), "The Future We Want."

  The forum meets annually under the auspices of the ECOSOC for eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment and every four years at the level of heads of state and government under the auspices of the General Assembly for two days.

  The forum's first meeting was held on Sept. 24, 2013. It replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development, which had met annually since 1993.

  The forum is the main UN platform on sustainable development and it has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the global level.

  The forum adopts inter-governmentally negotiated political declarations.