Voluntary National Reviews

The global adoption of the 2030 Agenda and commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 marked a new phase of ambition for sustainable development. The agenda is the culmination of over two years of intensive public consultation and engagement with civil society and other stakeholders around the world to build upon the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and to address their unfinished business, particularly in reaching the most vulnerable people.

The implementation of the SDGs has transformational potential to support the goals of civil society organisations (CSOs) working on economic, social and environmental dimensions. The participatory framework presents an opportunity for CSOs to engage, contribute and share ideas with policy makers and inform on programme development. CSOs have a critical role to play in monitoring commitments and holding governments accountable to implementation of the 2030 Agenda – to ensure governments mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.

As part of its follow-up and review mechanisms, the 2030 Agenda encourages member states to “conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and subnational levels, which are country-led and country-driven” (General Assembly resolution 70/1 – Paragraph 79). These national reviews are expected to serve as a basis for the regular Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) that countries undertake at the national level and present at the high-level political forum (HLPF), the annual global meeting for assessing progress, achievements and challenges.

These VNRs are central in overseeing follow-up and review. They report on national SDG implementation strategies and are expected to be “voluntary, stateled, undertaken by both developed and developing countries, and shall provide a platform for partnerships, including through the participation of major groups and other relevant stakeholders” (General Assembly resolution 70/1 – Paragraph 84).

The main objective of VNRs is to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. They also seek to strengthen government policies and institutions and to mobilize multistakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the SDGs. National consultations are often carried out to feed into the VNR process. Countries are encouraged to put regular review follow up processes into place at the national level after they are presented at the global level.