Category: Blog

VNRs and Progress Measurement Beyond the HLPF

By Elena Marmo
Since 2016, 142 countries worldwide have submitted Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) as part of the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF), reporting on progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the action plan of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The VNRs play a prominent role in the annual Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) HLPF with both criticism and acclaim. However, it’s important to consider how VNRs are taking hold beyond the formal sessions in the HLPF every year. The VNRs elucidate gaps in the global indicator framework and are appearing in discussions of UN Country Teams (UNCTs), the UN Statistical Commission and the Committee for Development Policy (CDP). Read more

Technocratic Fiddling While the Planet Burns: Towards a Higher Level of Ambition for the HLPF

by Kate Donald, Director, Human Rights in Economic and Social Policy, Center for Economic and Social Rights
The 2019 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development—the global platform for reviewing progress on the SDGs—took place last week at the UN in New York, and in general terms, it was more of the same. Admirable rhetoric, but not much evidence of serious efforts at comprehensive implementation, and a host of major flaws and limitations to contend with. As CESR has observed at previous HLPFs (see 2017 and 2018), the space given to civil society is far too limited, most of the Voluntary National Reviews feel very disconnected from reality, and one leaves with the feeling that most governments are at best timidly tinkering around the edges, making minor adjustments to business-as-usual while the planet burns. Read more…

VNRs, National “Spotlight” Reports and the Future of the HLPF

Every year since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in 2015, governments are invited to present Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) on their progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the UN. This process is heralded by some as a great opportunity to hold governments accountable to their actions and by others as a beauty contest riddled with misrepresentation and power imbalances. Civil society organizations in many countries produce their own alternative “spotlight reports,” playing with the name of “shadow reports” traditionally given to such independent voices in the Human Rights context. Read more

Reshaping Governance for Sustainability: 2019 “Spotlight” Report Launched at the UN HLPF

By Elena Marmo and Sophia McCarron
“There needs to be an examination of the hardware of the 2030 Agenda, rather than an upgrade of its software” concludes the 2019 Spotlight Report launched on Thursday, 11 July during the High Level Political Forum that reviews the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. Under the title of “Reshaping governance for sustainability”, the civil society report explores transforming institutions, shifting power and strengthening rights. The launch event showcased the ideas presented by a variety of the report’s authors. Read more

Governance of data and artificial intelligence

Analyses from the many global civil society organisations which contributed to the Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019 make it clear that to meaningfully tackle the obstacles and contradictions in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals needs more sweeping, holistic shifts in how and where power is vested. Read more

SDG 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Since 2015, the Civil Society Reflection Group (CSRG) has been monitoring how governments and international organizations have been implementing the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. In his assessment of progress on SDG 13 – taking urgent action to combat climate change— Indrajit Bose, from the Third World Network, reminds us that Cyclone Idai, which devastated Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi in March is just the most recent example of the catastrophic impacts of climate change on developing countries. Read more

SDG 5 – Advancing women’s rights and strengthening global governance: the synergies

Analyses from the many global civil society organisations which contributed to the Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2019 make it clear that to meaningfully tackle the obstacles and contradictions in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals needs more sweeping, holistic shifts in how and where power is vested. Cecilia Alemany and Gita Sen of Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN) Spotlight SDG5: Advancing women’s rights and strengthening global governance: the synergies Read more