1 December 2021
Reports Explore Shifting Roles of Stakeholders, Auditors in SDG Follow-up
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The Secretariat of the Partners for Review network launched three new reports on the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

The 2021 edition of an annual comparative analysis looks at the 42 VNRs conducted this year.

The Secretariat of the Partners for Review (P4R) network launched three new reports on the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The publications were launched during P4R’s Virtual Networking Days in November 2021.

First, the 2021 edition of an annual publication compares the 42 voluntary national reviews (VNRs) conducted by governments this year to identify emerging trends in SDG reporting. It finds that although there has been progress made in SDG implementation, some countries are lagging behind in specific areas, including: adherence to the principle of ‘leaving no one behind;’ private sector engagement; statistics and monitoring and evaluation; and systemic approaches from one VNR reporting period to another.

The comparative analysis of the 2021 VNRs also finds that stakeholder feedback and reporting are playing a greater role in national reports on SDG implementation, and that exercises in peer review and peer learning are emerging to foster a deeper understanding of SDG implementation and related challenges.

Second, a report on the role of Supreme Audit Institutions outlines opportunities for these bodies to contribute to achieving the SDGs. The report draws on experiences in 7 countries: Argentina, Bhutan, Brazil, Georgia, Kenya, Malaysia, and Uganda. It looks at the impacts of audits that specifically consider a country’s SDG “preparedness” or “readiness,” by assessing how the 2030 Agenda has been integrated into the respective national context. This type of SDG audit has been implemented in many countries worldwide.

The report then highlights 15 opportunities for SAIs to strengthen their institutional frameworks and capacities to conduct high-quality SDG audits and to promote their effective uptake. These include:

  • Integrate SDGs into conventional audits as subject matter topics;
  • Include SDG audits in annual audit planning and risk assessment processes;
  • Involve diverse local stakeholders in annual SDG audit planning;
  • Establish strong SDG audit follow-up capacities in SAIs;
  • Collaborate closely with national statistics offices and SDG-oriented research communities;
  • Advise government bodies through audit processes to integrate SDGs into their strategic and operational planning frameworks;
  • Establish and apply SDG audit methodologies for local government and state-owned enterprises;
  • Support measures to build Parliamentarians’ awareness of SDGs and SDG auditing; and
  • Facilitate media involvement in all stages of SDG auditing.

As the 2030 Agenda’s deadline nears, the authors suggest that SDG audits may “be expected to focus more on the attainability of the SDGs, and to advise governments regarding the measures and time required to close the existing gaps.”

The third publication launched at the P4R meeting reviews 16 countries’ experiences in engaging stakeholders in SDG follow-up and review. The study yielded insights on: success factors leading to credible review results; the uptake of actions identified for follow-up; and the potential for sustainable impact.

On the factors that helped determine an effective and impactful engagement with stakeholders, the report notes many that relate to the capacity and experience of the actors involved. These included: the individual capacities of the principle actors; previous SDG-related experiences within an organization; and the skills (organizational, mediation, and leadership) of the main government institution responsible for the follow-up and review process).

The authors also identified “downward accountability and responsiveness” as ongoing challenges. They also write that incentives – both financial and non-financial – are required to create inclusive, participatory, and accountable processes of national follow-up and review. Non-financial incentives could include public recognition, awards, and cross-learning and peer exchange.

P4R is a global multi-stakeholder network aimed at building robust processes and capacities for the review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is implemented by GIZ on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as well as the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

P4R’s final meeting took place virtually from 16-19 November 2021. [Publication: 2021 Voluntary National Reviews – a snapshot of trends in SDG reporting] [Publication: The Contribution of Supreme Audit Institutions to the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals: Current issues and opportunities] [Publication: Engaging non-state actors and local authorities in SDG follow-up and review: Stocktaking, evolving practices and lessons learned]  [Case studies on engaging non-state actors] [Partners for Review website]

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