News 2nd August 2018

Creating the UK’s Voluntary National Review on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

by Andreas Pavlou

In 2019, the UK will present its Voluntary National Review (VNR) on implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the UN.

In preparation for this, to create a collaborative space to help deliver the VNR, DfID held an Engagement Event on Tuesday 31 July 2018, attended by numerous civil society organisations including the UK OGN coordinator as part of a UKSSD delegation.

The UK’s VNR will be coordinated and drafted by DfID with support from the Cabinet Office and other Government departments, with input invited from outside government particularly to share case studies, best practice and share stories. An online consultation is also planned that would be launched with the aim of producing a first draft of the report by the end of the year for further consultation. The final report would be presentated to the UN High Level Forum in July 2019.

The first discussion talked about the feedback following the High Level Forum this year. This suggested that the quality of VNRs had increased, and that coverage of all SDGs in an effectively and meaningfully way was strongly encouraged. The use of independent data sources was also evident. The need to include all UK jurisdictions and devolved administrations was highlighted as well as ensuring that the complications of a cross-government approach did not consitute a reason for losing track of timelines. Learning from international approaches to stakeholder engagement was also highlighted, such as feedback from civil society and facilitating a national conversation about what work is taking place around the country to support SDG delivery.

A number of other considerations for a UK report were also mentioned including having a chapter on implementation, a methodology and/or data annex, factoring in the proposed timeline, involving stakeholders, and use of SDG language in and around the VNR.

Following this, discussion centred around what some of the principles should be that drive development of the UK VNR. These included that it need have a data-driven approach to ensure the report is accessible and credible, including using unofficial data and data held at the local level by civil society organisations; that it covers all of the SDGs at target and indicator level and the UK’s work to deliver all 17 SDGs through delivery of the Government’s Single Departmental Plans; that it uses and builds on existing structures and mechanisms wherever possible; that it ensures public consultation throughout the process and reaches out to those that are not likely to have been reached out to such as young people; that its format be consistent with VNRs from other countries and UN guidance; and that it ensures a good balance between domestic and international coverage.