UN Secretariat Issues Questions and Answers on 2019 VNRs
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The document titled 'Q&A for Voluntary National Reviews at the 2019 HLPF' complements the 2019 edition of the 'Handbook for the Preparation of Voluntary National Reviews' and seeks to help countries prepare for their reviews in advance of the July HLPF.

49 countries have volunteered to present their VNRs at the 2019 HLPF in July, including eight countries that are presenting their VNR for the second time.

April 2019: The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) has issued an updated list of questions and answers (Q&A) on Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to help countries prepare for their reporting on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation at the 2019 session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2019.

VNRs are a component of the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and are presented by countries at the yearly HLPF that takes place under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). VNRs are voluntary, State-led, undertaken by both developed and developing countries, and present an opportunity for peer learning.

Forty-nine countries have volunteered to present their VNRs at the 2019 HLPF in July. These countries are Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Chile, the Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, El Salvador, Eritrea, Eswatini, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, the UK, Tanzania, and Vanuatu. Of these 49 countries, eight are presenting their VNR for the second time (Azerbaijan, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, and Turkey).

As outlined in this SDG Knowledge Hub story, in October 2018, 51 countries had volunteered to present their VNRs at the 2019 HLPF, and included France and Brazil that are not on the 2019 VNR list anymore.

The document titled, ‘Q&A for Voluntary National Reviews at the 2019 HLPF,’ complements the 2019 edition of the ‘Handbook for the Preparation of Voluntary National Reviews’ that provides “basic, practical information” on steps that countries may take when preparing a review. It includes questions on: government and stakeholder engagement in the VNRs; VNRs’ scope; documentary resources available for preparing VNRs; support provided by DESA and other UN entities; SDGs that should be considered in VNRs; inclusion of statistics and indicators; VNR duration and format; ways countries participate in VNR presentations at the HLPF; and follow-up and review after the VNR presentations. The 2019 Q&A updates a previous version of the document issued in 2018.

According to the Q&A, UN Member States should decide on which institution should lead the VNR at the national level, adding that VNRs are prepared by governments in a consultative, inclusive, and participatory process involving all Major Groups and other stakeholders.

On the scope, the Q&A notes that the 2019 VNR countries are expected to report on actions and measures taken to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, taking into account the principle of “leaving no one behind.” The document encourages countries to report on all the 17 SDGs or on their priority Goals, and clarifies that it is not expected that the VNRs focus specifically on the SDGs being reviewed at the 2019 HLPF. It also calls on VNRs to: be based on in-depth review processes at the national and local levels; and include good practices, gaps and lessons learned related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, possible areas where they would need support, and areas where “potential for partnerships” has been identified.

On reporting, the Q&A says each country participating in the 2019 VNRs may present a focused report in writing. It asks countries to submit their reports by 14 June, and their VNR main messages by 17 May to the UN Secretariat. Both documents are expected to be posted on the HLPF VNR database. On VNR presentations at the HLPF that complement the issuance of the VNR reports, the document indicates that: officials with the rank of minister or equivalent should lead the presentation; and time allocated to each country’s VNR at the HLPF will be 30 minutes, including 15 minutes to present and 15 minutes to interact with participants. VNR presentations at the HLPF will take place during the three-day ministerial segment of the Forum, from 16-18 July.

On support provided to countries for VNR preparation, the Q&A document cites preparatory workshops organized by DESA and addressed to all participating VNR countries, and capacity-building support provided by DESA and other UN entities upon request.

The 2019 HLPF under ECOSOC will take place from 9-18 July at UN Headquarters in New York, US, and will consider the theme, ‘Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality.’ For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the July HLPF will be followed by a session of the HLPF under the auspices of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), also referred to as the ‘SDG Summit’ from 24-25 September 2019 in New York. [Q&A for Voluntary National Reviews at the 2019 HLPF]


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