The Guidance Note aims to assist Fijian Parliament Committees in engaging effectively with the SDGs in all of their work.
The Note identifies key entry points for Parliament to support implementation and oversight of the SDGs.
Fiji's Speaker of Parliament said achieving the SDGs “requires engaged and committed parliaments” to enable government to act and to hold governments accountable to their commitments.
15 May 2019: The Parliament of Fiji and partners launched a Guidance Note on integrating the SDGs across the work of all Fijian Parliament committees. The document features concrete, tangible actions that committees can take to improve oversight of the SDGs.
In 2017, the Fiji Parliament became the “first Parliament in the world to carry out a self-assessment exercise on the SDGs,” with advisory support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The assessment recommended producing a toolkit for parliamentary committees to monitor and assess the SDGs related to their subject areas. The Guidance Note released on 15 May 2019 builds on the assessment’s findings and proposed action plan. It is considered a living document that will be periodically updated with lessons learned and case studies from ongoing efforts related to parliamentary committee oversight of SDG progress.
Titled, ‘Oversight of the Implementation of the SDGs: Guidance Note for the Standing Committees of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji,’ the Note aims to assist committees in engaging effectively with the SDGs in all of their work. The document emphasizes the importance of the SDG indicators, and describes how the committees can use these indicators to track progress toward the SDG targets as well as the targets of Fiji’s National Development Plan (NDP).
The Note shares methods and tools for committees to use in order to improve their oversight role in monitoring SDG progress and the NDP, such as engaging civil society, conducting site visits, engaging the government and conducting enquiries. The Guidance Note also features a series of checklists, sample questions and step-by-step guides to support the committee’s efforts. Case studies share lessons learned from other countries’ SDG oversight.
The Guidance Note identifies key entry points for Fiji’s Parliament to engage in implementation and oversight of the SDGs, including by scrutinizing bills, annual reports and expenditures through an SDG lens. For example, the document explains how a Standing Committee to which a bill has been referred can assess whether the bill is in compliance with the SDGs. This would offer an opportunity to bring domestic laws and policies into alignment with the SDGs. The Note provides a step-by-step guide to help parliamentarians scrutinize annual reports, including a list of proposed actions and guiding questions.
Similarly, Standing Committees can use annual sectoral reports submitted by line ministries to Parliament to assess whether, how and to what extent programmes and policies of government have contributed to achieving the SDGs over the past year, and conduct a review of SDG outcomes delivered in each portfolio area.
Speaking at the Guidance Note’s launch, Fiji Speaker of Parliament Epeli Nailatikau said localization of the SDGs is a key priority for Fiji’s government. He said achieving the SDGs “requires engaged and committed parliaments” to enable government to act and to hold governments accountable to their commitments. Nailatikau described the SDGs as a “robust framework around which parliament can base its strategic plans and pursue its own oversight and accountability work,” and recognized the importance of mainstreaming SDG monitoring and oversight into Parliament’s legislative process and oversight functions. He underscored the SDGs as an opportunity for parliamentarians to demonstrate their commitment to “improving people’s lives and the health of the planet.”
UNDP Pacific Office Resident Representative Vineet Bhatia welcomed the Fijian Parliament’s commitment to engage in monitoring the SDGs. Bhatia said good governance processes should engage citizens and local actors, including parliaments, civil society and the private sector, to play a role in implementation. He said the Guidance Note provides Committees “with the necessary direction to integrate the SDGs into their everyday work.”
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres commended Fiji for being the first parliament in the world to undertake a SDG self-assessment, in an address to the Parliament on 15 May 2019. He praised the Parliament’s commitment to “sustainable development to improve the lives of all Fijians.”
The Government of Fiji developed the Guidance Note with assistance from the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji through a project funded by the Governments of Australia, Japan and New Zealand. [UNDP Press Release] [Publication: Oversight of the Implementation of the SDGs: Guidance Note for the Standing Committees of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji] [Fijian Parliament Self Assessment] [UN Secretary-General Address] [UN News Story] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Self Assessment]