For the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to become reality, countries must be able to measure their progress and report back to their citizens and to the wider world. The 2030 Agenda provides governments the opportunity to offer their own assessments of their nation’s progress towards the SDGs.
These Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) are presented at the annual High-level Political Forum (HLPF), which is also an opportunity for governments, UN agencies and other stakeholders to share data, experiences and perspectives on SDG implementation.
So far, 64 countries have told the world about their SDG progress through VNRs in 2016 and 2017. UNDP has supported the majority of them, including through facilitation of stakeholder dialogue and engagement. Countries are also compiling national SDG country reports that capture more depth and detail of their progress. UNDP has supported 22 countries to ensure resources and consultations for the first wave of these reports, which show that stakeholder engagement has indeed a vital role to play.
For example, in The Bahamas, private sector and civil society organizations (CSOs) gave their views on public policies and programmes to help identify gaps in SDG implementation and to highlight tradeoffs between goals. This exercise formed the basis of the SDG report and for a prioritization among SDG targets. Community-based CSOs and private companies also identified ‘SDG champions’ who reviewed the draft SDG report and provided feedback to make sure that No One is Left Behind.
In The Gambia, the government successfully determined SDG baselines, identified data sources and developed a mechanism for SDG monitoring and reporting together with the private sector, civil society and international development partners, which will be built into the monitoring and evaluation framework of the National Development Plan.
Through similar consultations, Jamaica set out to continue its awareness raising work through a dedicated SDG advocacy plan to obtain and coordinate stakeholder input, and to identify knowledge gaps throughout society. The plan includes toolkits for entertainers and the media, promotion of SDG essay competitions in schools and campaign material for visually impaired persons. Mirroring the 2030 Agenda, the plan underlines the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach that harnesses the knowhow and capacities from all of society, which is necessary for effective follow-up and review.