New handbook on review process for assessing Governments’ SDG performance

6 November 2018 – ECOLISE members and those involved in community-led action on climate change and sustainability will be interested to know about some very useful tools which have been developed to engage with governments in examining their performance in implementing the SDGs.

These so-called Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) have been developed by the UN and are now being used by Governments across the world. Normally, civil society groups should be part of that review process – although we all know that in practice this is depressingly rare.

As of today, some 111 VNRs have been produced by Governments since 2016, and a further 51 are due in 2019. These are all published on the following website: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf. Governments are expected to present these reviews at the High Level Political Forum (HPLF) that takes place in New York in July every year. Next year, the process will be managed by the Chair of UN’s ECOSOC, St Vincent and the Grenadines .

An extremely useful, simple to read, handbook on the whole process has just been produced by CAFOD (http://www.together2030.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Voluntary-National-Reviews-quick-guide-for-civil-society_Oct2018.pdf) . It refers to other Handbooks that have come out from the UN, notably this one: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/20872VNR_hanbook_2019_Edition_For_Print10122018ForewordGraphic_update.pdf.

If you want to engage on the implementation of SDGs, it is easy to find out whether the country where you are located has produced such a VDR report, what consultation process with community groups has been established, and how to get engaged.

This process offers a great opportunity to get involved. The SDGs were themselves the result of a very wide consultation with civil society. They have of course many defects. But at least the VDRs allow us to hold our own governments to account, and provide a platform for our own members to show what they are doing on the ground to implement the SDGs.

Tim Clarke, ECOLISE Council Member.