The CEPEI report titled 'What are the Countries of the Region Talking about in the Reviews on their SDGs Implementation Processes?’ analyzes 22 VNRs prepared by LAC countries from 2016 to 2018.
The assessment considers national implementation measures, involvement of stakeholders in VNR preparations, data availability and other means of implementation, and alignment with the common reporting guidelines issued by the UN Secretary-General, among other considerations.
22 May 2019: The Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (CEPEI) released a report analyzing three years of voluntary national reviews (VNRs) by Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries. Based on these 22 VNRs, the author finds that a key challenge facing governments is the lack of human and technical capacities within national statistical systems, especially on data related to the environment. The VNRs do not include clear requests for support regarding this challenge, however, which the report calls a “missed opportunity.”
VNRs are a component of the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They are presented by countries at the yearly July meetings of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) held under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). VNRs are voluntary, State-led, undertaken by both developed and developing countries, and intended to provide an opportunity for peer learning.
Authored by Javier Surasky, CEPEI, the report analyzes VNRs prepared from 2016 to 2018 by the following LAC countries: Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Of these 19 countries, three have presented VNRs in two years (Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay), bringing the number of reviews examined to 22.
The report titled, ‘What are the Countries of the Region Talking about in the Reviews on their SDGs Implementation Processes?’, was prepared to improve implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs in LAC, and to help countries prepare for their VNR presentations at future sessions of the HLPF. It assesses VNRs according to ten components, namely:
- General data, defined as elements that help contextualize the reviews, such as basic national data;
- Incorporation of the SDGs at the national level;
- Incorporation of the “central elements” of the 2030 Agenda;
- National implementation measures;
- Report coverage;
- Involvement of stakeholders in VNR preparations;
- Means of implementation;
- Data availability for the follow-up and implementation of the SDGs at the national level;
- Other elements considered relevant, such as the existence of parallel reports or the identification of good practices; and
- Alignment of the VNRs with the voluntary common reporting guidelines issued by the UN Secretary-General.
Among its key observations, the report finds that all the VNRs analyzed make reference to the inclusion of the SDGs in policies or national development plans, and assessments have been carried out to adapt the SDGs to national contexts. On principles related to the 2030 Agenda, the report indicates that multi-stakeholder participation and leaving no one behind are the principles which are the most mentioned in the VNRs, while principles related to the universality of the 2030 Agenda and to human rights are among the least taken into account.
On the participation of stakeholders in the preparation of VNRs, the report states that civil society, academia and the private sector are the most included, while parliaments are the least included. It further notes that all VNRs reflect information on efforts made by governments to raise public awareness on the SDGs.
The report finds that balanced consideration of the three dimensions of sustainable development is “weak,” and the environmental dimension is less taken into account than the social and economic ones. The report further notes a limited consideration of policy coherence for development, with only three VNRs making an explicit reference to this concept. It finds that the Paris Agreement on climate change is the most referenced international agreement in the VNRs, while regional agreements are mentioned in only four of the 22 reviews.
On means of implementation, the report finds that all of the VNRs mention international cooperation (North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation), and 14 countries have included sources of financing to implement the SDGs at the national level. It notes, however, that the sources of financing should be clarified, and their effectiveness should be further considered in future reports.
According to CEPEI, VNRs guidelines proposed by the UN Secretary-General are not “appropriately” taken into account by countries when preparing their reports, and there is a weak continuity between VNRs carried out by the same country at different years.
In 2019, Guyana and Saint Lucia are expected to present their VNR for the first time at the HLPF, while Chile and Guatemala will be presenting for the second time.
The 2019 HLPF will take place from 9-18 July at UN Headquarters in New York, US. [Publication: What are the Countries of the Region Talking about in the Reviews on their SDGs implementation Processes? Comparative Analysis of the Voluntary National Reviews Presented by Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean at the High-level Political Forum (2016-2018)] [UN VNR Database]