The ECOSOC President just published the summary of the HLPF…this is the VNR stuff

The ECOSOC President's Summary from the July HLPF can be found here. This blog focuses on the section on Voluntary National Reports (VNRs).
Before listing the summary let me make a few comments. It seems to me that
  1. How many countries actually have a sustainable development strategy that has been developed with stakeholders AFTER the agreement on te 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement?
  2. No one has put together an analysis of sustainable development strategies and what role they should and are taking. This is important because VNRs should be reporting based on their SD Strategies and MOST countries did not redo their strategies after 2015 and don’t have a coherent one. There are a few I know that do those being Germany and  Colombia. Germany having just completed its independent review under Helen Clark's chairship.
  3. Now is the time to look at the framework for reporting and come forward with ideas for improvement.
  4. Where there is no multistakeholder platform for all stakeholders to work with government on their strategies, their plans and their commitments they need to be set up. A new global alliance is being set up by Stakeholder Forum with support from some of the existing Councils. This could also help establish new ones based on the experience and knowledge of those that already exist.
  5. Ensure there is government funding to help stakeholders to participate in these national processes.
  6. Seek local and sub-national governments to set up similar processes and to report as well.
  7. All the work now should be focused on what can be achieved by the midterm review in 2023.
I've highlighted some interesting parts of the summary on VNRs which may interest people.

Four years of voluntary national reviews: what has been learned in implementing the Goals?
80. The main issues addressed included the following:
(a) A whole-of-society approach is critical for implementing the Goals.
Multi-stakeholder involvement will lead to more effective implementation. Governments should ensure that stakeholder engagement concerning implementation of the 2030 Agenda is inclusive, timely, transparent and institutionalized;
(b) Countries should do more to ensure that no one is left behind. The root causes of inequality must be addressed. Enhanced efforts with new, dynamic strategies should be in place across all sectors to reach those furthest behind;
(c) The voluntary national reviews should not be seen as an end point.
Continuous and inclusive follow-up and review of implementation ought to take place, as a matter of course, at the national level, including during years that countries are not presenting the reviews at the high-level political forum.
81. Many of the countries that had presented voluntary national reviews since 2016 outlined progress had made towards achieving the Goals, including poverty alleviation programmes, climate action plans and strategies for a low-carbon circular economy. They noted changes and periodic reviews of their national sustainable development strategies, awareness-raising activities on the Goals and efforts to take complementary and simultaneous action in the social, economic and environmental fields.
82. Most of the participants agreed that the 2030 Agenda provides a strong impetus for policy coherence, integration, coordination and the harmonization of different work streams within the Government and beyond. Inclusive institutional frameworks, including at the highest levels of government, address the interrelated nature of the Goals and involve all agencies in cross-cutting efforts. The transformative nature of the process arose not only from the Goals but also from factors such as intergenerational equity, the commitment to multi-stakeholder involvement and the human rights perspective of the 2030 Agenda.
83. Challenges include low levels of stakeholder awareness and engagement with the Goals; lack of available data, particularly disaggregated data; diverse and parallel international reporting systems; the limited capacity of Governments to prepare voluntary national reviews requiring the use of consultants, leading to weak ownership; lack of monitoring and accountability frameworks; and political shifts within Governments.
84. Overall, the 2030 Agenda provides a universal agenda common to all countries and, despite the challenges mentioned above, has strengthened political will, generated opportunities to increase cooperation between Governments and other stakeholders, raised political and public awareness and created national ownership of the Goals. The voluntary national review process has fostered peer-learning, helped to establish inclusive institutions and legal frameworks and created systems of integrated delivery to accelerate progress towards achieving the Goals. It is important that the reviews lead to follow-up actions at the country level.
Summary of voluntary national reviews presented at the high-level political forum under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council
85. The main issues addressed included the following:
(a) Many countries have mainstreamed the 2030 Agenda and integrated the Goals into national development strategies, policies, plans and other relevant frameworks;
(b) Establishment of high-level multisectoral coordination structures to lead and monitor implementation of the Goals can ensure that the Goals are mainstreamed and prioritized across different government ministries;
(c) Some countries have implemented policies and programmes for human rights, access to justice, legal reform, and improving governance;
(d) The impacts of conflict, humanitarian crises and climate change prevent the achievement of the Goals, notably in the areas of health, education and nutrition;
(e) Mobilizing resources for climate change adaptation is a critical pillar of development finance;
(f) More efforts are required to enhance adaptation and mitigation measures by countries and the transition of countries to renewable energy;
(g) Working groups on statistics and data can improve monitoring of Goal related indicators and create a comprehensive analytical framework that incorporates social, cultural and environmental measures;
(h) Countries have advanced a wide range of measures to strengthen the engagement of all stakeholders in the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda, which is key to achieving inclusive and sustainable development and ensuring that no one is left behind;
(i) Partnerships at local, national, regional and global levels, including with the private sector, are essential for implementing the Goals;
(j) Multilateralism and international collaboration are also needed to achieve the Goals;
(k) Young people must be given a voice in the implementation, follow-up and review of the Goals.
86. During the ministerial segment, 47 countries presented voluntary national reviews: Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Eswatini, Fiji, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nauru, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Tanzania and Vanuatu. In 2019, Azerbaijan, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Turkey presented their reviews for the second time.
87. Many countries have been actively pursuing the implementation of the Goals through various policies, plans and institutional arrangements. Whole -of-government and whole-of-society approaches must be anchored within national sustainable development strategies. Strengthening coordination across government ministries are critical to ensure integrated policymaking. Countries reported on institutional arrangements in place for coordination and implementation of the Goals.
88. Some countries have established multisectoral working groups with reporting frameworks for each ministry or interdepartmental collaboration across a variety of ministries and government agencies. Others work through multi-stakeholder advisory arrangements.
89. Different approaches exist to prioritize, monitor and evaluate the Goals, including adapted national indicators, the creation of statistical portals and complementary reporting. Country priorities often differ depending on their level of development.
90. Presentations also focused on localizing the Goals through collaboration and partnerships among towns, local municipalities, the business community and civil society organizations; the role of parliaments; the importance of regional cooperation; and the need to enhance capacity of subnational structures.
91. Countries discussed both the importance and challenge of strengthening national statistical capacities and the need for quality data collection, management, and analysis to thoroughly assess and monitor of Goal implementation, as well as to ensure adequate baseline data and the harmonization of data sources. Lack of disaggregated data remains a challenge for many countries, which stressed the importance of increasing capacity for data collection, filling data gaps, encouraging the use of data, cooperating to collect administrative data at all levels and strengthening the data ecosystem. Countries also emphasized the importance of increasing the use of satellite data, anonymized call records and citizen-generated data.
92. They also highlighted a number of policy priorities to ensure inclusion, ownership and accountability of all relevant groups in Goal implementation. Participatory and inclusive processes based on consultations with stakeholders are being undertaken not only in the planning and implementation of the Goals but also in the preparation of the voluntary national reviews. Countries are working with diverse groups of stakeholders in the implementation of the Goals by including them in established coordination mechanisms to ensure that no one is left behind.
Engagement with the private sector was also indicated as being important in generating awareness of sustainable development and in breaking down silos.
93. Countries underscored their efforts to promote economic growth and decent work for all. Some noted the high rate of unemployment among youth and women as a challenge and stressed the role of youth in enhancing inclusive and sustainable development. Several initiatives focused on reducing inequalities, especially for the most vulnerable sectors of the population, extending the scope of social safety nets, progressively raising the guaranteed minimum wage and improving the condition of workers. There was broad agreement that quality education is a key factor for achieving all the Goals.
94. Many countries considered climate change as the biggest challenge to the Goals and one of the major sources of vulnerability. Policy and institutional frameworks at the national level have been established to address climate change and build resilience, and climate change is being mainstreamed into many national development plans. Achieving the Paris Agreement will require not only technological progress but also significant changes in consumption.
95. A range of initiatives focused on reducing inequalities, particularly for countries lagging behind and for vulnerable populations. Several countries announced progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment through gender-responsive budgeting, legal aid programmes for victims of domestic and gender-based violence, strengthened participation in parliaments, and legislation to ensure equal pay.
96. Financing the implementation of the Goals remains an obstacle for many countries. Financing strategies were presented, including budget planning, mobilizing income sources and internal revenues, fighting corruption, tackling smuggling and tax evasion, establishing a financing hub for public-private partnerships, and blended finance. Investments in infrastructure, including transportation, the development of road networks, electricity generation, better connectivity to improve trade and investment, and clean energy development have been instrumental in supporting progress towards the achievement of the Goals, especially for landlocked developing countries.
97. The role of innovation and research for sustainable development was stressed, with some highlighting the need for progress in scientific and technological cooperation, targeted technology transfers, and capacity-building in the scientific and technological sector.
98. Efforts towards achieving the Goals need continued engagement and investment and must be aligned with other United Nations frameworks such as the Paris Agreement, the Samoa Pathway and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.

Working on the SDGs you should read how they came about: Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals: A transformational agenda for an insecure world with Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva Roesch  


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