In the context of the SDGs Summit 2019, Together 2030 and Newcastle University are launching the 4th perceptions survey report.
Together 2030 and Newcastle University’s annual perceptions survey gathers stakeholders’ perspectives on national follow up and review of the SDGs.
This year’s report Commitments and challenges: stakeholder participation in follow up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals, 2019 poses three main questions: (1) how extensive is stakeholder awareness of, and participation in, the process of VNRs -including participation by marginalised groups? (2) How, and how meaningfully, are stakeholders involved in review and implementation processes, and (3) Have stakeholders seen progress on SDG implementation since 2015?
The report finds that there has been progress on increasing civil society awareness of, and participation in VNRs –though it is unclear how far this reflects improved government efforts, or greater self-organisationon the part of stakeholders. There is no evidence, though, that this awareness and engagement have made the VNRs more rigorous or effective in catalyzing SDG implementation; most respondents see little progress in their countries after VNRs.
We also find that VNR processes continue to exclude “left behind” groups. Compared to previous years, this survey asked more open answer questions about civil society experiences of good and bad practice in review and implementation. It is clear, from respondents’ answers, that VNR processes have been varied, and not always consistent with the UN’s Guidelines and Handbook for VNRs.
The report suggests the need for continued mobilization by civil society beyond national VNR processes, greater attention to how VNRs can promote meaningful progress in implementation, and an effort to identify and spread best practice in inclusive, participatory review and implementation.
The survey received 159 responses from a range of stakeholders. The vast majority of respondents to the survey were from civil society organisations and international organisations. The survey comprised approximately 20 questions –though not all questions were directed to all respondents. It was issued in three languages: English, Spanish and French, and was shared broadly with civil society and stakeholder mailing lists and via social media from 10 June –4 July 2019.
The survey gathered a lower number of responses than last year (159 versus 264 in 2018). The dissemination methods and context, differences in the surveys and the different countries involved across the two years make it difficult to determine the cause of this drop in responses. Causes could include (i) differences in timing (as the survey took place slightly later in the year this year) or promotion of the survey; (ii) more responses on behalf of a number of organisations (iii) different levels of engagement in the national contexts of countries under review and (iv) lower engagement with the SDGs by stakeholders in general or (v) ‘survey fatigue’ by stakeholders in the context of a number of other surveys being run.