A series of global workshops is under way to support the 45 countries conducting voluntary national reviews of SDG implementation in 2022.
In March and April 2022, the five regional commissions will each hold a workshop for the VNR countries in their region, as part of their annual fora for sustainable development.
The 2022 edition of DESA's VNR handbook provides a checklist as well as detailed guidance on initiating the review process, conducting stakeholder engagement, and presenting the report at the HLPF.
A series of workshops is under way to support the 45 countries conducting voluntary national reviews of SDG implementation. Other guidance is available through regional workshops taking place in March and April, the 2022 edition of the VNR handbook, and an informal group of government peers.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the Netherlands held the first of three global workshops for VNR countries. It convened in a hybrid format from 25-29 October 2021, covering the preparatory process and providing insights from countries that have already conducted VNRs.
During the workshop, the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Collen Kelapile, said countries’ interest in conducting VNRs show their commitment to the 2030 Agenda and its value as the roadmap to recovering better from COVID-19. He suggested that the VNR process itself can be a “catalyzer to accelerate your recovery from the pandemic,” further encouraging governments to use the process to identify and deal with challenges hindering SDG progress, strengthen institutions, align budgets with SDG implementation and engage all branches of government and all stakeholders. Kelapile said he intends to extend the time for interaction after VNR presentations to ensure an opportunity for learning and exchange of experiences.
The VNRs are more than a report, but an important process for aligning national goals with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.
According to the workshop summary, Marion Barthelemy, DESA, said VNR reports can include observations on the difference between a country’s first and subsequent VNR process, and evaluate the impact of policies that were implemented. On the thematic focus for the VNR, Barthelemy suggested that countries report on all 17 SDGs, with four to five national priorities.
Yoka Brandt, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands, noted that the better VNRs are those that are more inclusive. She also said local and subnational reviews (VLRs and VSRs) help to improve the quality of VNRs. She emphasized that the VNRs are more than a report, but an important process for aligning national goals with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.
The second global workshop for 2022 VNR countries will take place in April 2022. It will focus on lessons learned and challenges encountered in the process so far, report preparation, and presenting the VNR at the HLPF. The third workshop will convene in July 2022 to address final preparatory steps and the anticipated follow-up to the HLPF presentation.
In March and April 2022, the five regional commissions will hold their annual fora for sustainable development. Each forum is expected to include a workshop for countries preparing VNRs this year to exchange experiences specific to their region.
To support countries in presenting VNRs at the 2022 HLPF, the Permanent Representatives of Morocco and the Philippines are leading the informal Group of Friends of the Voluntary National Reviews, follow-up and review of the HLPF. The Group was previously chaired by Mexico.
In October 2021 DESA released the 2022 edition of the handbook for countries preparing Voluntary National Reviews of SDG implementation in their countries. The handbook provides a checklist as well as detailed guidance on initiating the review process, conducting stakeholder engagement, and presenting the report at the HLPF.
The “main messages” of each country’s VNR are due to the UN Secretariat by 3 May 2022. This allows other countries and stakeholders to prepare for the HLPF by sharing emerging conclusions, main findings, and areas where the country would benefit from advice from other countries or institutions. The full written national report is due by 10 June 2022.
As of 3 January 2022, 45 countries are listed to present the results of their VNRs. These countries include the first-ever set of governments that will report for the fourth time – Togo and Uruguay. Twelve first-time presenters are also on the list.
The 45 countries are: Andorra, Argentina, Belarus, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominica, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Mali, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Switzerland, Togo, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay.
Comoros originally expressed interest in conducting a VNR but is no longer on the list for 2022, while St. Kitts and Nevis has been added for 2022. Comoros is among those listed for VNRs in 2023.
The VNRs are usually presented during the second half of the annual HLPF sessions. In 2022, the HLPF will take place from 5-15 July. [HLPF 2022 website] [Publication: Handbook for the Preparation of Voluntary National Reviews: The 2022 Edition] [VNR countries] [ECOSOC President’s remarks to first global workshop]