21 March 2017
Online Platform Launched for VNRs
Photo by IISD/ENB | Pamela Chasek
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DESA's Division for Sustainable Development launched an online platform for the Voluntary National Reviews of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with information organized according to country.

In this second year of implementation, governments are expected to report on the actions and measures taken to advance implementation, and on progress made.

17 March 2017: The Division for Sustainable Development of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) launched an online platform for the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Featuring a designated country page for each government that participates in the VNR, the platform indicates that six countries have already signed up to present reports in 2018.

The VNRs are a component of the follow-up and review process at the global level, and are conducted during the annual session of the UN High-level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Through the VNRs, governments discuss national efforts in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to UN General Assembly resolution 70/299, the VNRs aim to “facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned.”

The online platform compiles information from the countries participating in each year’s VNR. The information is organized according to country. Each country page includes, if available, an executive summary of the report, name and contact information for the national focal point, as well as the person who presented the report to the HLPF, a webcast of the country’s presentation to the HLPF, statements by the country as well as Major Groups, and any other relevant documents.

In 2016, 22 countries participated in the first round of VNRs, while 44 have signed up to report in 2017: Afghanistan, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Monaco, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Slovenia, Sweden, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.

Six countries have already volunteered to report in 2018: Bahrain, Bhutan, Ireland, Jamaica, Republic of Congo and Singapore.

Countries participating in the VNR are expected to submit main messages by 19 May, and their reports by 16 June.

This year, the VNR presentations are expected to take place during the second week of the 2017 HLPF, as part of the three-day ministerial segment (17-19 July). DSD’s tentative deadline for the submission of main messages from the VNRs is 19 May, and for the submission of reports, the tentative deadline is 16 June.

To support countries in their preparations for the upcoming VNRs, the UN Secretariat issued a question-and-answer document on the on scope, guidelines, themes and SDGs to be considered, statistics and indicators, format of the presentations, support provided by the UN, and involvement of Major Groups, other stakeholders and partnerships. UN Member States are encouraged to involve stakeholders in their VNRs, but the specific modalities for engagement are likely to vary from country to country and are to be decided by national governments, the document notes.

On the content of the reports, the document indicates that in this second year of implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, governments “are expected to report on the actions and measures taken” to advance implementation, and “where available, to provide information on progress made.” The document acknowledges that a focus may remain on baselines, strategies, and policies being put in place to facilitate implementation, “it is also expected that countries will begin to share progress and accomplishments, as well as gaps and lessons learned, related to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.”

Also to support governments’ preparations, in December 2016 the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in collaboration with DESA provided an online course for government officials on mainstreaming and review of the SDGs, and on possible approaches to stakeholder engagement. [VNR Platform] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on VNR Guidelines, December 2016] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on VNR Preparations, January 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on VNR Preparations, February 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on HLPF Programme] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Synthesis of 2016 VNRs] [UNGA Resolution 70/299] [ENB Meeting Coverage, HLPF 2016]

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