The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on sustainable development is a central element in the emerging governance architecture for sustainable development. Established at the 2012 United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development, the HLPF has a dauntingly expansive mandate – including setting the sustainable development agenda; enhancing integration, coordination and coherence across the UN system; and following up all sustainable development goals and commitments. Yet it has been granted limited authority and few material resources. In these circumstances, the HLPF must rely on the governance strategy of ‘orchestration’: working indirectly through intermediary organizations, and using soft modes of influence to support and guide their actions. The forum's design suggests that states intended it to pursue this approach. We identify potential intermediaries and techniques of orchestration, and assess whether the HLPF can successfully act as an orchestrator.