Civil Society Report Provides Guidance on Crafting “Spotlight Reports”
Photo credit: TAP Network
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CSO spotlight reports reflect on SDG progress through the perspectives of civil society and citizens.

The report recommends creating a formal space for CSO spotlight reporting and improving coordination to ensure parallel reports contribute to achieving the SDGs.

The report suggests that the UN and Member States take non-governmental data sources into account in their evaluations of progress towards SDG 16.

8 July 2019: The Transparency, Accountability, and Participation (TAP) Network and partners have compiled guidance on producing civil society “spotlight reports” on SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The TAP Network launched the report at the 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), to coincide with the HLPF’s in-depth review of SDG 16.

The report titled, ‘Empowering Civil Society for National Reporting and Action on SDG 16,’ features 11 case studies on SDG 16 reporting by civil society. The guidance reflects on SDG progress through the perspectives of civil society and citizens in Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Slovenia, Timor-Leste and the UK.

Overall, the case studies highlight how enabling national contexts can support the effective engagement of civil society in monitoring and implementing the SDGs, and observe low levels of public awareness on SDG 16. For example, the Canadian case study finds that many Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) advocate for implementation of the SDGs as an entire framework but, at an individual Goal level, monitoring “remains limited.” The case studies criticize some governments for failing to develop cross-cutting national SDG implementation plans, and highlight the lack of availability of adequate data and disaggregated data to monitor progress. In Pakistan, for example, the government selected only 13 out of 21 global SDG 16 indicators for Pakistan’s national priority framework, and has set baselines and targets for only three indicators.

The report also analyzes the approaches and methodologies used by civil society to produce and disseminate spotlight reports, including guidance on both the process of developing a report, as well as the report’s structure. The authors note that in experiences to date, the process of developing a report collectively has contributed to knowledge exchange across CSOs working on SDG 16+. They suggest beginning to develop a report nine months before the HLPF, and identify data collection as the most challenging aspects. The report suggests that the UN and Member States take non-governmental data sources into account in their evaluations of progress towards SDG 16. The report also recommends creating an official forum to collect and analyze the findings of non-governmental data sources and reports and establishing a mechanism to hold governments accountable.

At the national level, the report recommends creating a formal space for CSO spotlight reporting and improving coordination to ensure that parallel reports can contribute to achieving the SDGs. The report also recommends:

  • creating national oversight mechanisms, including multi-stakeholder national SDG working groups;
  • supporting additional research and data collection; and
  • developing inclusive processes for developing a report in a collective manner.

At a global level, the report summarizes recommendations from the ‘Amplified Commitments and Partnerships for Accelerated Action: Rome Civil Society Declaration on SDG 16+” (Rome Declaration), which calls for: implementing SDG 16+ in an integrated manner, using a people-centered approach, promoting inclusive partnerships, strengthening data, monitoring and accountability mechanisms; protecting civil society and expanding civic space; increasing capacity building for implementation; and scaling up commitments.

The TAP Network published the guidance report in partnership with the Asia Development Alliance (ADA) and Forus, with contributions from CIVICUS, Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS), Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD), Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Namati, Saferworld and Transparency International.

The 2019 session of the HLPF held an in-depth review of SDG 16 on 12 July. [Publication: Empowering Civil Society for National Reporting and Action on SDG 16] [Report Webpage]


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