The report reviews the 42 VNR reports submitted to the HLPF in 2021 along with 17 VNR-related civil society reports, and identifies positive and concerning trends.
The authors find that only 50% of VNR reports assessed all 17 SDGs in 2021, while in 2020 this figure was 70%.
In addition to the full report, the NGO coalition prepared policy briefs on the topics of 'Leave No One Behind - COVID 19' and 'Civic Space'.
An independent assessment of the voluntary national review reports submitted to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2021 calls on countries to “include forums for meaningful participation by civil society and other stakeholders.” The authors indicate that this could be done through efforts to strengthen major groups’ and other stakeholders’ engagement mechanisms.
The recommendations are among many offered in the report titled ‘Progressing National SDGs Implementation,’ which is the sixth in an annual series of VNR reviews by a coalition of NGOs. The 2021 edition, launched on 23 February 2022, reviews the 42 VNR reports submitted to the HLPF in 2021 along with 17 VNR-related civil society reports. The report identifies both positive and concerning trends.
Among the report’s findings are:
- The number of VNR reports that reported the formal inclusion of non-state actors in governance arrangements dropped from 70% in 2019 and 2020 to 64% in 2021;
- Only 1 of the 42 VNR reports presented in 2021 recognized the occurrence of shrinking civic space, while several shadow, spotlight and/or parallel reports prepared by civil society organizations reported on the closure of civic space in their countries;
- Fewer VNRs reported conducting baseline and gap assessments, selecting national priorities, integrating the SDGs into national policies, and selecting national targets and indicators to inform SDGs implementation;
- More VNRs referred to the transformational nature of the 2030 Agenda, with the principle of leaving no one behind as the main focus of 2021 reports;
- All 2021 full reports (41 countries) identified groups that are being left behind or at risk of being left behind, including children and youth (98% of reports), persons with disabilities (95%), women and/or girls (95%), and the elderly (76%);
- There has been an increase of the number of countries pointing to human rights-based approaches, inter-generational responsibility, and planetary boundaries; and
- Only 50% of VNR reports assessed all 17 SDGs in 2021, while in 2020 this figure was 70%.
The NGOs represented in the steering committee for the report are: Cooperation Canada; ActionAid Denmark; Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD); Arab NGO Network for Development; Bond; Centro de Pensamiento Estratégico Internacional (CEPEI); CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE); Forus International; Global Focus; International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD); Save the Children (UK); Sightsavers; and World Vision International.
At the 2022 HLPF, 45 countries are expected to present reports of their VNR processes. [Publication: Sixth Edition of Progressing National SDGs Implementation]