Check the new report here.
The purpose of this review is to provide information to civil society stakeholders for their engagement in the HLPF in July 2017, and to make recommendations for improving VNR reports in 2018 and beyond.
Main findings and recommendations:
In sum, the set of submissions available for this review provide many reasons to be hopeful as well as some cause for concern. On the positive side:
- Based on the Main Messages reviewed, it appears that many developing and developed countries alike, and representing all regions, are taking the 2030 Agenda seriously, with high levels of commitment among political leadership.
- Significant progress is being made in setting up institutional arrangements and creating an enabling environment for implementation.
- Some countries seem to be getting the message that diverse stakeholders must be included in consultations, implementation, and follow-up and review. The frequency of references to the inclusion of women and young people is heartening.
- Many countries have provided ample material to inform substantive interchange and sharing of experiences in the upcoming HLPF discussion.
However, the following conclusions are concerning:
- As we are into the second year of a 15-year agenda, the pace of implementation remains a concern. Too many countries, again developed and developing alike, seem to consider their first VNR report as a starting point for implementation. Instead, it is expected that at this point countries would be reporting based on two years of concerted activity. Implementation must proceed with a sense of urgency appropriate to the overwhelming scale of our common global challenges.
- The majority of the Main Messages lack information on implementation, including efforts to leave no one behind.
- While a number of countries mention plans for setting up monitoring and evaluation mechanisms and strategies for follow-up and review, too few present a clear cycle of accountability and how they are engaging stakeholders in the process.
- Some VNR countries are neglecting to cover all 17 SDGs in their national reports addressed to the HLPF. This diminishes the indivisibility and integrality of the goals and goes against the principles for comprehensive follow-up and review agreed in the 2030 Agenda.
- There is also a gap with regard to plans to bring information back to the national level and debrief the process and outcomes of the VNRs with stakeholders – a critical element of follow-up and review. Based on the current set of Main Messages, countries have a long way to go in this regard.
The following are recommendations for improving the VNR process and implementation more generally:
- Establish common guidelines for format and content of Main Messages as well as VNR reports. Five to six pages is an accessible length for Main Messages that also allows sufficient space to cover key issues.
- Countries should be more explicit in reporting on the VNR process, including efforts to engage stakeholders. Together 2030 calls on governments “to strengthen efforts to publicize their plans and processes for national review, and opportunities for participation, sharing common challenges and identifying best practices in stakeholder engagement.”
- Countries need to step up the pace. They should not wait for their first VNR report before getting started on implementation.
- Countries should report on progress toward all 17 SDGs, recognizing the indivisibility of the agenda and interlinkages among the goals.
- Main Messages should include more substance on implementation, including specific activities, progress and challenges.
- Civil society must keep demanding meaningful participation. It’s positive that many countries mentioned youth and women, but more stakeholder groups need to be included and more detail provided regarding efforts to ensure the process is inclusive and engagement is meaningful. Furthermore, it will be important to compare country VNR reports with the perceptions and experiences of civil society stakeholders in country (see Together 2030 Perception Survey, May 2017).
- To ensure no one is left behind, the most marginalized and disadvantaged must be identified early on, and reports should explicitly explain what countries are doing to provide them with targeted support.
- The cycle of accountability must be made clear to stakeholders and described clearly in reports, including who is consulted and engaged in the review process and how. As Together 2030 has called for in its HLPF 2017 inputs: “An accountability cycle should be continually in place until 2030, providing regular and predictable spaces for interaction, review and participation for civil society and stakeholders, be the result of inclusive national discussions and part of a multi-layered review system.”
Overall, the quality of reporting needs to improve markedly in subsequent years if the HLPF is to become a meaningful space for constructive and robust review, and ultimately if the SDGs are to be achieved by 2030.
The new report is available here.
Check the Annex with country reviews.