Report Finds Need to Improve National Reporting on Stakeholder Engagement in SDGs
Photo Credit: Kiara Worth/IISD
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A report commissioned by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs reviews the status of engagement in SDG implementation based on an assessment of the 158 Voluntary National Reviews submitted to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development from 2016 to 2019.

The report describes how Member States report and engage in areas of institutional arrangements, awareness-raising, national ownership generation, partnerships and collaboration, leaving no one behind, and follow-up and review.

Across these areas, the report articulates 10 lessons in multi-stakeholder engagement.

A report released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) reviews the extent of stakeholder involvement in SDG implementation, based on the 158 Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) conducted over the past four years. The report was commissioned by DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development Goals (DSDG) and authored by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC).

Approximately 75% of countries consistently noted non-state actors’ inclusion in governance mechanisms.

According to the report, titled ‘Multi-stakeholder Engagement in 2030 Agenda Implementation: A review of Voluntary National Review Reports (2016-2019),’ approximately 75% of countries that have presented VNRs to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) consistently noted non-state actors’ inclusion in governance mechanisms. Eighty percent included information on multi-stakeholder engagement to “nationalize” the SDGs and build a sense of local ownership through public meetings, workshops and other means. Reporting on how countries monitor and follow-up on their progress declined from 70% in 2017, to 57% in 2018, to 32% in 2019.

The report summarizes gaps and recommended actions for Member States, the UN system and non-state actors. The authors articulate ten lessons in multi-stakeholder engagement, which are bolstered by country experiences showcased as case studies:

  1. Plan to engage;
  2. Include non-state actors in institutional arrangements for implementation;
  3. Create inclusive spaces for ongoing dialogue, collaboration and partnership;
  4. Make awareness-raising ongoing, and do it in partnership with others;
  5. Continue to consult on priorities and report on progress to citizens according to agreed timetables;
  6. Empower citizens to participate in implementation through capacity development, direct support and inclusive partnerships;
  7. Engage with diverse groups while respecting representative stakeholder bodies;
  8. Take targeted steps to leave no one behind in stakeholder engagement;
  9. Recognize the expertise of others; and
  10. Report on your experience and the experiences of others that contribute to implementation as part of a whole-of-society approach.

Concluding that there a need to improve reporting on multi-stakeholder engagement in VNRs, the report calls for more detailed information on how non-state actors are engaged SDG implementation efforts. The authors call on Member States to utilize the UN Secretary-General’s Voluntary Common Reporting Guidelines and DESA’s handbook for preparing VNRs, to ensure inclusivity in the process and consistency and comparability across countries’ reports. [Publication: Multi-stakeholder Engagement in 2030 Agenda Implementation: A review of Voluntary National Review Reports (2016-2019)]

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