27 July 2017
HLPF VNR Presentations Highlight Efforts on Policy Coherence, Priority Areas
Photo Credit: Lynn Wagner
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During the HLPF Ministerial Segment, 43 countries presented their Voluntary National Reviews.

Country presentations highlighted the formulation of national development plans, policies and strategies, described examples of sub-national implementation and stakeholder engagement, and shared priorities and challenges.

24 July 2017: Multiple sessions on Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) took place during the Ministerial Segment of the 2017 session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). During VNR presentations, 43 countries highlighted areas of progress and described challenges in implementation.

Many countries highlighted the formulation of national development plans, policies and strategies in their countries to align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promote policy coherence, including Afghanistan, Belgium, Belarus, Botswana, Denmark, El Salvador, India, Malaysia, Peru, Qatar, Slovenia, Tajikistan, and Togo. Bangladesh highlighted coherence between national policies and the SDGs, saying 14 out of the 17 SDGs are thematically aligned and three are partially aligned with his country’s 7th Five-Year Plan. Belize stressed the importance of creating intra-governmental synergies to ensure efficient use of finances. Honduras outlined criteria for inclusion of Goals in the national SDG agenda: the Goal must be relevant for Honduras and linked to the country planning system; and the country must possess sufficient resources to implement it. Indonesia said Indonesia’s next medium-term development plan will incorporate all SDG targets. Japan informed it has established the SDGs Promotion Headquarters. Jordan highlighted integration of the SDGs and targets into the country’s three-year executive development plan. Nepal described three high-level committees established to promote SDG implementation. Thailand showcased integration of the country’s Sufficiency Economy Philosophy and the SDGs into national development strategies and budgets. Zimbabwe described its efforts to establish an institutional structure, including the identification of focal points in key ministries and oversight by Parliament.

Several countries shared examples of sub-national implementation, including the Maldives. Argentina highlighted the commitment of 10 provinces and the city of Buenos Aires to implement the SDGs, and said their country hopes to have specific data on implementation in 14 of the 23 provinces by 2018. India said sub-national governments are keenly involved in SDG implementation. Jordan described project pilots in two regions to inform sub-national planning. Kenya informed it has established an SDGs Liaison Office working with sub-national governments. Sweden shared municipal-level efforts to implement the SDGs.

Some countries noted the identification of priority areas, including Belize, Guatemala and Zimbabwe. Bangladesh identified nutrition and infrastructure as areas in need of further attention. Benin said his country has identified 49 of the 169 SDG targets as national priorities. Chile described four priorities: promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development; reducing inequality; addressing climate change and environmental protection; and bolstering institutions and democracy. Botswana described its national poverty eradication programme, stressing its focus on the poorest segment of the population, the 6.4% of people who live on less than US$1.25 per day. Costa Rica highlighted specific actions taken on zero hunger, health, infrastructure, and marine life. Cyprus shared the introduction of a national healthcare system that will improve utilization of resources and quality of care and reduce inequality. Ethiopia highlighted progress towards achieving the SDGs, including: integrated measures to build quality infrastructure; investments in renewable energy; continued promotion of industrial development; soil conservation projects; and legislation ensuring land access for rural women. Japan announced US$1 billion in ODA by 2018, focused on education, health, disaster risk reduction, and gender equality.

Monaco described a focus on healthcare and education as part of his country’s global efforts; over-achievement on Kyoto Protocol mitigation targets and a national goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050; and national priority areas related to SDG 14 (life below water). The Netherlands said her country scores high on welfare, trust in institutions, education, and health but must address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, renewable energy, and the gender pay gap. Peru stressed his country’s geographical, topographical, and cultural diversity, emphasizing the importance of accounting for this diversity at the local level in implementing the SDGs. Togo outlined his country’s plans to: establish agricultural hubs to consolidate self-sufficiency and improve agricultural trade balance; become a logistics hub in the sub-region; and formulate a strategy for growth of the blue economy.

On stakeholder engagement, Belize highlighted efforts to ensure a consultative process in development of their country’s monitoring and evaluation. Brazil described the establishment of a 16-member National Commission for the SDGs, with eight members from government and eight from civil society. He welcomed efforts by Brazilian civil society to disseminate and localize the SDGs. Costa Rica highlighted a national pact on the SDGs that brings together all three branches of government as well as civil society. The Czech Republic said the VNR process involved stakeholders for ensuring factual accuracy and wider acceptance. Ethiopia explained civil society contributed to a three-layered process of consultation at the local, regional, and national levels. Indonesia said marginalized groups can voice their concerns during Indonesia’s development of SDG action plans. Kenya shared the establishment of an interagency technical committee that works with civil society organizations and the private sector. Malaysia highlighted: the adoption of a multi-stakeholder participatory governance structure; the organization of a national SDG symposium; studies on data readiness and gaps; and development planning mapping exercises involving NGOs and the private sector. Portugal described a public consultation process led by civil society. Slovenia showcased a consultative process to develop its development strategy. Tajikistan highlighted his country’s support for inclusivity and broad participation in SDG implementation.

Countries identified a range of challenges in SDG implementation, including in measuring progress against indicators where data is lacking and a lack of disaggregated data; ensuring adequate financing and resources; achieving political consensus among actors; and recognizing the interests and demands of all sections of society. Ecuador called for addressing tax evasion at bilateral and multilateral levels. Nepal described challenges related to provincial- and local-level implementation. Panama highlighted a sustained reduction in poverty levels, and in rates of malnutrition and hunger, but said that persistent inequality calls for targeted interventions in priority areas.

Afghanistan identified a lack of professional and technical capacity, finance, technology, and conflict and insecurity as key challenges. Azerbaijan highlighted critical challenges to development in the region: security; stability; and social cohesion. Nigeria said that their country’s progress on SDGs has been held back by: the economic crisis triggered by the decline in oil prices; the humanitarian crisis in the Northeast; and continued militancy in the Nigerian delta.

On lessons learned, Belgium highlighted four lessons from the process, including the need to: incorporate SDG targets into internal and external policy frameworks; identify areas for further action, such as water and air quality; follow up on, and review, implementation; and invest in awareness raising. [IISD RS Coverage of HLPF] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on VNR Main Messages][SDG Knowledge Hub story on summary of institutional arrangements presented in 2016 VNRs]

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