10 October 2019
Stakeholders Report on Engagement in SDGs, VNRs at National Level
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

The report on ‘Commitments and challenges: stakeholder participation in follow up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2019’ discusses results gathered through a perception survey on VNRs and the follow-up of the 2030 Agenda.

Based on 159 responses, the report notes an increase in awareness that respondents' governments were undertaking a VNR, but challenges with making progress on key issues following the VNR presentation.

24 September 2019: Together 2030 and Newcastle University have released the results of a survey on stakeholder engagement in national review and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. The authors report progress on increasing civil society awareness and participation in Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) since the beginning of the reviews in 2016, but point to little progress on SDG implementation following the VNRs.

Titled ‘Commitments and challenges: stakeholder participation in follow up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2019,’ the report discusses results gathered through a perception survey that took place online from 10 June to 4 July 2019. The survey placed particular focus on data from civil society organizations based in the 47 countries presenting VNRs at the July 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Those countries were: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Eswatini, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UK, Tanzania and Vanuatu.

The survey found that, among the 159 respondents, 92% were aware that their country was undertaking a VNR in 2019, compared to 80% in 2018 and 68% in 2017. However, it also found that only a quarter or less of respondents saw good progress since “a past VNR” in many areas, including public awareness, political leadership, implementation of policies, and budget allocation.

On leaving no one behind, the report indicates that only 27% of respondents said vulnerable and marginalized groups were involved in their government’s VNR preparation, and notes that VNR processes continue to exclude left-behind groups. The report further identifies obstacles to participation, such as lack of information and funding, not being given the opportunity to participate, and language barriers.

Among other recommendations, the authors call on governments to:

  • establish participatory and inclusive national review processes that maximize chances for “meaningful engagement” by stakeholders;
  • ensure that vulnerable and marginalized groups are fully involved in the preparation of VNR reports; and
  • develop and publish “leave no one behind” engagement strategies, outlining ways for the voices of those traditionally left behind to feed into the national development discourse.

The authors also call on civil society organizations to increasingly work together, through formal or informal coalitions, to ensure clarity and transparency about how the government can engage them. They further call for considering how the VNRs can catalyze policy change, political will and public awareness within reporting countries.

Current practices in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda will be the subject of UN General Assembly (UNGA) consideration during the 74th session. This process will follow UNGA decisions to review progress on the implementation of UNGA resolutions related to the HLPF (66/290 and 70/299) during its 74th session “to benefit from lessons learned” from the Forum’s first cycle. [Publication: Commitments and challenges: stakeholder participation in follow up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2019] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on the survey]

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