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What do analyses of Voluntary National Reviews for Sustainable Development Goals tell us about ‘leave no one behind’?

Briefing/policy paper

Written by Moizza Binat Sarwar, Susan Nicolai

Briefing/policy paper

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) asks member states to ‘conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven’. These Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) are then presented annually at a High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), enabling countries to report their progress on the SDGs and share information with other countries.

Preparation of VNRs is led by country governments and typically involves ministerial and other relevant high-level participants with variability in the role that civil society can and has been able to play in each country. To date, 64 countries have presented VNRs at the HLPF, with 22 in 2016 and 43 in 2017. There are 47 countries set to present VNRs in 2018, after which half of all UN member states will have presented their reviews.

This briefing note reviews official guidelines and the 22 available commentaries on the VNRs with the aim of drawing out common features in the assessments and recommendations for future VNRs, particularly in relation to the ‘leave no one behind’ agenda. It first summarises focus areas of the VNRS to date, as well as the gaps in information identified by existing analyses. It then takes a deeper look at ‘leave no one behind’ – which is unique in that it cuts across all 17 SDGs for every country – by pulling together commentary from existing analyses and reflecting on the degree to which the updated VNR resources address the theme. The note concludes with thoughts on reporting on ‘leave no one behind’ in future reviews.

Moizza Binat Sarwar and Susan Nicolai