Engaging voluntary national review (VNR) countries and voluntary local review (VLR) cities: In support of the 2023 ECOSOC cycle of work and in preparation for its 22nd session (2023), the CEPA working group is exploring how to enhance the peer exchange with voluntary national review countries and voluntary local review cities on experiences and promising practices in implementing SDGs 16 and 17.
The high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda and the 17 SDGs at the global level. One of its central features is the voluntary national review (VNR) process that Member States conduct as part of their implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs are intended to strengthen policies and institutions of governments, mobilize different stakeholders and multi-stakeholder partnerships, and allow for the sharing of experiences with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In 2022, forty-four countries presented their VNRs at the HLPF [Learn more]. In addition, following the model of the VNRs, a significant number of subnational governments have developed voluntary local reviews (VLRs). In 2022, eleven cities presented their VLRs [Learn more].
Many of the VNR countries and VLR cities struggle to achieve peaceful and inclusive societies to realize justice for all and to build effective, accountable, and stronger institutions at all levels. They also face multiple challenges, such as poverty and hunger, climate change, and threat of conflict, and have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn is slowing, or even derailing their progress toward the SDGs.
In a letter addressed to the President of the General Assembly in 2019, the Group of Friends of the Voluntary National Reviews, Follow-up, and Review of the HLPF, comprised of ambassadors in New York, noted the need to expand the support for VNR countries and encouraged the sharing of relevant country experiences, policy lessons and good practices, to expand their benefits from the VNR process.
Since 2019, the Committee has been organizing dialogues with VNR countries during its annual sessions, adding VLR cities for the first time at its 21st session (2022). Selected countries and cities are invited to share relevant aspects of their draft reviews, highlighting in particular SDG 16-related challenges including in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. CEPA members make observations and/or suggest solutions to the challenges presented drawing, inter alia, on the findings of the World Public Sector reports published by UNDESA.
At its 20th session (2021), the Committee noted that much progress was being made on the quality of national public administration and governance, with contextualized solutions and priorities, and that exchange of experiences between countries could catalyse progress. At its 21st session (2022), on the use of peer exchange platforms, members and observers agreed on the potential merits of a voluntary Committee-led peer exchange platform on the institutional aspects of Goal 16.
To date, the following countries and cities were invited to share relevant aspects of their draft reviews, highlighting in particular SDG 16-related challenges:
|CEPA 21st session
Italy, Morocco; Shah Alam City, Malaysia; Mexico City, Mexico (UN webcast)
Presentation by Shah Alam, Malaysia
Presentation by African Peer Review Mechanism
|CEPA 20th session
||Azerbaijan, Colombia, Indonesia (UN webcast)
|CEPA 18th session
||Azerbaijan, Chile, Croatia, Guatemala, Iceland, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Uruguay (UN webcast)
Recent CEPA observations and insights
The Committee notes that there is a continuous need for peer-to-peer learning and exchange of good practices within and across countries in relation to SDG 16. (CEPA 21st session, 2022).
What does ECOSOC recommend?
ECOSOC calls for increased efforts to support national and international peer exchanges and peer learning on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, including through cooperation with existing international networks. (Economic and Social Council resolution 2022/9, para. 16)
ECOSOC recommends that the subsidiary bodies could more systematically invite countries conducting Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the HLPF to participate in their session and engage in a dialogue on the implementation of the SDGs most closely related to their work. This would help to maximize peer learning on policy experiences emanating from the VNRs. (ECOSOC decision 2022/334)