Civil society perceptions: how well are we doing in running Voluntary National Reviews and implementing the 2030 Agenda?

by Together 2030 and the University of Newcastle
The Perceptions survey, conducted annually by Together 2030 and the University of Newcastle, has just been published and it has some important findings for the next round of VNRs and cycle of the HLPF. The first, is that, whilst there has been some increase in awareness and engagement with the VNR process, civil society continue to see little progress in the implementation of the SDGs in their countries after VNRs. The survey found that only 22-25% of respondents saw good or great progress in SDG implementation, whilst more than 40% of respondents reported good or grate progress in civil society engagement.
It was also clear that there is also a huge need for progress in the ‘leave no one behind’ agenda. We have sought to include the views of marginalised and vulnerable people included, as they are often best placed to advise on whether efforts to ‘leave no one behind’ are actually reaching the hardest-to-reach people, so we included disabled people’s organisations, women’s groups and organisations supporting older people. Disappointingly, the survey found that these groups continue to be largely excluded from the VNR process, particularly the most marginalised groups. Only 27% of respondents thought the process was truly inclusive, and while this is better than in last year’s survey, it is still unacceptably low.

Civil society survey finds that stakeholders are aware of the VNR process but less so on participation in the actual process, particularly how they can ensure that they are doing it in a meaningful way.

Even if the participation of vulnerable and marginalised groups increased from 14% to 27%, this is still worrying to see that the “Leave No One Behind” principle within Agenda 2030 remains too low to have an impact. It is clear that the countries have failed to include the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalised. The left behind are still left behind.
So, what change can we hope for by the time the next survey is conducted in 2020? For starters, we want to see ‘leave no one behind’ engagement strategies developed in a way that ensures more transparency.  With stakeholders engaged in the design of the process so they can ensure full and meaningful participation rather than just being on the list of participants.
We also want to see greater organized and systematized collaboration between the government and the civil society, possibly by sector, to ensure SDG implementation is ensured post-VNR will happen
But most importantly, we want to see governments making more effort to ensure marginalised people are not just included, but included in a meaningful way. Because if marginalised groups are not meaningfully included, our efforts to implement the ‘leave no one behind’ principle – the essence of the SDGs – will fail.   By working together, we have an opportunity to succeed!
Note: Every year, we conduct a survey of stakeholders on their perceptions of national follow up and review of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), in particular the Voluntary National Review (VNR) processes which are done to measure the progress a country is making towards the SDGs. This year, the survey has been expanded to get a more in-depth view from civil society organisations on their experiences of good and bad practice in review and implementation.




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