The Coalition for Sustainable Development of Russia has published a civil society review of SDG implementation in the Russian Federation, presented as a “shadow report” alongside the country’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) to the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The report analyzes implementation of each of the 17 SDGs in the country, and offers recommendations for the state and civil society on how to achieve the Goals.

The report titled, ‘2020-2030: Decade of Action in Russia Challenges and Solutions,’ finds that the SDGs “have not received adequate attention” either in strategic development planning in the Russian Federation or in the work of the executive branch at national, regional, and local levels. It emphasizes the lack of a national strategy for SDG implementation and inadequate reporting on progress. At the same time, the report recognizes the country’s efforts in providing foreign assistance to developing countries, which, it notes, is an “integral part” of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The CSOs note that state strategies for industrial development, the environment, digitalization, and other national priorities are “poorly adapted to meet the SDGs,” and often neglect the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda. They warn that the spread of corruption and amendments to the country’s constitution call into question the possibility of achieving the Goals.

The report describes today’s state of civil society in the Russian Federation as “controversial and unstable,” and warns of increasing “repressive tendencies that contradict basic human rights.” The CSOs lament public authorities’ “excessive control” over non-profit organizations, which hampers “activities of independent human rights and environmental organizations, whose expertise is vital to the achievement of the SDGs.”

Among other challenges, the report highlights low levels of public awareness of the SDGs and ineffectiveness of the existing forms of public participation in the development, implementation, and monitoring of the Russian Federation’s social and economic strategies.

The report offers ten recommendations to improve SDG implementation in the country:

  • Review existing strategic documents for their compliance with the objectives and indicators of the SDGs, and create a national plan or roadmap for achieving the SDGs;
  • Raise SDG awareness among officials at all levels, including municipalities, to ensure comprehensive implementation of the Goals;
  • Improve cooperation among federal ministries and bodies, regional agencies, and local authorities and communities when designing SDG-related activities;
  • Review the legal framework that impedes the path towards sustainable development;
  • Promote a wider dissemination of the 2030 Agenda in the regions and at the local level;
  • Ensure that Russia’s foreign policy, including official development assistance (ODA) allocation, follow the principles of the 2030 Agenda;
  • Report annually on SDG achievement progress at domestic and international levels;
  • Improve awareness of the Goals through training, communication, and better public access to national sustainable development events;
  • Develop follow-up VNRs with greater participation from civil society without discrimination by income, sex, age, race, nationality, migration status, disability, sexual orientation, geographic location, and other characteristics; and
  • Actively engage civil society when working towards the goals of the 2030 Agenda at the international level.

The report was prepared before the COVID-19 pandemic, with support from Action for Sustainable Development (A4SD), the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and other partners. The report includes a review of best practice cases of SDG implementation in the Russian Federation, published as an annex. [Publication: 2020-2030: Decade of Action in Russia Challenges and Solutions] [Cases Review 2020 (in Russian)]