Follow-up and Review

Follow-up and Review
Overview

Effective follow-up and review (FUR) is instrumental to guiding and strengthening effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By evaluating progress towards implementation, it endeavours to improve accountability, enhance peer learning through exchange of good practices, and mobilize support.

Member States have the primary responsibility for follow-up and review, at the national, regional and global levels, in relation to the progress made in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and related targets. A systematic follow-up and review framework will be robust, voluntary, effective, highly participatory, transparent, integrated and will consider national priorities and capacities.

The 2030 Agenda outlines a set of guiding principles, which include:

  1. Voluntary & country led reporting to track progress on implementing the SDGs coupled with rigorous, robust, data driven, evidence based evaluations;
  2. Long-term orientation, and identification of challenges, gaps and critical success and failure factors;
  3. Ensuring an open, inclusive, participatory, and transparent process; and
  4. Building on existing platforms and processes that respond to national circumstance, capacities, needs and priorities.

To reinforce national accountability and ownership, the outcomes of the FUR processes held at national level lay the foundations for the FUR at regional and global levels. The latter processes, in fact, rely primarily on national data sources.

The proposed follow-up and review architecture emphasizes a multi-layered structure with the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the global level, supported by peer review mechanisms at the regional and subregional level, such as the annual Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), and strong national level accountability processes. Given the highly inclusive and transparent process through which the SDGs are being defined, the global architecture must also ensure space exists for meaningful inclusion of non-state actors.

Foundations for the architecture of follow-up and review:

Architecture of follow-up and review

At the national level:

FUR processes centre on accountability. National policies are evaluated to measure progress. Engaging with a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives of civil society (CSO), indigenous people, and the private sector, is encouraged to ensure transparency.

At the regional level:

Drawing on national reviews, FUR processes emphasize peer learning and the exchange of good practices, providing an opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities in the regional context. Outcomes contribute to shape FUR process at the global level.

Regional support to follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda is one of the agreed functions of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), an inter-governmental mechanism convened by ESCAP on an annual basis. In fact, APFSD is now a fully recognised part of the SDG follow-up and review process and institutionalised as part of the ESCAP commission structure. The APFSD supports the region in preparation for the global level HLPF by enhancing capacity, capturing and sharing regional perspectives and supporting the review of progress toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The APFSD Forum supports the FUR process at the regional level through:

  • assessing progress and providing opportunities for peer learning related to the theme and goals that will be reviewed at the High-level Political Forum;
  • supporting the presentation of Voluntary National Reviews; and
  • undertaking periodic review of progress of the road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.

At the global level:

FUR at global level takes place at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), which meets every year to reviews progress towards the 2030 Agenda through the lens of a specific theme, including an in-depth review of a subset of goals. The means of implementation and global partnerships are under review each year. The HLPF also includes voluntary national reviews (VNRs) that give individual countries the opportunity to present their progress towards the 2030 Agenda and constitute the main instruments for national reporting at the HLPF.

Follow-up and Review cycle.

Background

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development devotes 18 paragraphs on the importance of a systematic follow-up and review of the implementation of the Agenda, its roles, objectives, and guiding principles. It should be noted that such a framework was not present in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), making the process of establishing an institutional mechanism for follow-up and review for the SDGs an unprecedented task for national governments. 

Follow-up and review is both a management process as well as an accountability exercise. It ensures that implementation efforts are effective, that they are well founded, that strategies are appropriate and tackle the right issues, that the right institutions and stakeholders are involved and act, and that appropriate resources are provided for this effort. Review and follow-up are strictly interconnected and shall be regarded as a continuum: the one provides the diagnostics on the progress, and the other accounts for responses, ensuring that action is taken in return.

Review is a process in which the stakeholders are engaged to consider the findings of the monitoring effort and to discuss questions such as (A) does the picture of progress presented represent reality? (B)  what are the underlying reasons for the picture of progress presented; (C) what are some of the most urgent needs and opportunities for boosting progress or taking remedial action? (D) what are the emerging issues?

Follow-up ensures that there is a response to the recommendations of the monitoring and review processes, and is at the heart of effective follow-up and review. It provides for action to accelerate progress. This component includes formulation of response to the findings of the monitoring and review process, including allocation of resources and identification of investment needs, adjustments in implementation plans, or change during implementation. Follow-up may involve defining new indicators that should be tracked through monitoring efforts.

SDG National Reporting Initiative

sdg national reporting initiative

 

Overview

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set an ambitious agenda for countries around the world, and data is essential to help fulfill that agenda. SDG reporting can be a tool to help countries define and achieve their goals. SDG reporting refers to the act of publishing and disseminating data and statistics on the SDG indicators for key stakeholders, including UN custodian agencies, government policymakers, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions, and the general public. 

Generally, there are three approaches to SDG reporting: (1) Adding a module within an existing platform; (2) Building a new platform dedicated to SDG reporting; and (3) Leveraging a regional platform. Some countries, such as Belgium or the Philippines, have added a new section to existing statistical websites or data platforms to report data on the SDGs alongside other national data and statistics. In several cases, countries are repurposing platforms used to report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Other countries are developing entirely new platforms to provide data on the SDGs. And some countries are providing data through regional platforms, such as the Africa Information Highway. 
 
According to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, SDG reporting is led by governments and conducted in compliance with the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. These principles are considered a basic framework that national statistical offices and other statistical organizations must follow in recognizing official statistics as a public good. 

Why SDG reporting matters

SDG reporting can be a valuable tool to help governments achieve their goals by enabling policymakers to understand where their country stands in relation to the SDG targets, and how far they still need to go. Government officials can use the data to adjust their country’s development strategies, inform redistribution of resources, and engage stakeholders around specific goals. SDG reporting can also help identify data gaps, improve access to official national and subnational data and statistics, and consolidate reporting efforts to minimize national reporting burdens. Non-governmental stakeholders, such as NGOs, businesses, civil society, and others, also stand to benefit from SDG reporting. They can use benchmark data and historical data to focus their work and advocacy on persistent challenges. Valid, consistent, and transparent reporting also provides a direct mechanism for these stakeholders to hold their governments and policymakers accountable for making progress toward realizing the SDGs. A UN expert group on data for sustainable development has referred to data as “the lifeblood of decision-making,” and data can help answer many questions that are essential to decision-making in areas covered by the SDGs. For example, how many currently live in poverty? How many girls attend school? What proportion of schools have access to electricity? How many people currently have access to a bank account? The data that can answer these questions and others framed by the SDGs present a baseline level of knowledge for policymakers and other stakeholders.

Approaches to SDG reporting

To date, countries have adopted one of three approaches for reporting on the SDGs. Some countries are incorporating SDG reporting within an existing national platform. Others have developed entirely new platforms dedicated to providing data on the SDGs. And still other countries are providing their data to a regionally-maintained platform. 

approach1Adding an SDG module within an existing platform 

Some countries have chosen to leverage their existing platforms to provide data on the SDG indicators as an additional module. These SDG modules are typically added to a country’s existing national statistical office (NSO) website or national open data platform. This approach often requires fewer resources than creating a new platform for SDG reporting and can be implemented quickly but can be limited by the existing features on the NSO website. Countries that have adopted this approach to SDG reporting include: Belgium, France, and the Philippines.

Building a new platform dedicated to SDG reporting

Several countries are using centralized national reporting approach2platforms (NRPs) to report on their progress. NRPs can be understood as a means “to report and disseminate national statistics including SDG indicators and descriptive metadata [...] in an easily accessible way to reach all target users. Target users may encompass government officials and policymakers, members of academia, non-governmental organizations and nonprofits, international organizations, media and other information providers, business community, as well as individual users.” A standalone reporting platform for the SDGs can make it easier for a country’s government to coordinate data across different ministries, departments, and subnational bodies, and allow users to find all data related to the SDG indicators in one place. Countries that have adopted this approach include the United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, and others.

approach3Leveraging a regional platform 

Several regional bodies have developed platforms allowing countries to provide and display data on the SDGs, and in some cases compare their progress to other countries in the region. The platforms provide a number of features, such as visualizations, to help users explore the data and because the development and implementation of the platforms is done by the regional bodies, countries have to dedicate fewer resources to reporting and developing NRPs. Examples of regional platforms include the Africa Information Highway and the Asia-Pacific SDG Partnership

 

Suggested resources

The SDG National Reporting Initiative, which is being led by the Center for Open Data Enterprise (CODE), developed an overview of SDG reporting as well as demos of NRP platforms, a webinar on SDG reporting, and an inventory of NRPs and related documents

The UNECE Task Force on National Reporting Platforms developed a public wiki with country case studies, NRP inventories, and a Practical Guide for National Reporting

The SDG Monitoring and Reporting Toolkit for UN Country Teams is a resource designed to support national governments in the monitoring and reporting on the SDGs.

The Open SDG Platform is an open-source platform that is free to use and is being implemented in a number of countries. Visit the Quick Start guide and the GitHub page to learn more. Visit the translations page to help add multilingual capacity and use the translations for your own SDG website. 

 

To learn more about CODE and the SDG National Reporting Initiative, visit sdgreporting.org or email contact@odenterprise.org

Voluntary Local Review

VLR lab

Voluntary Local Review (VLR) is an initiative in which the local government voluntarily reviews the status of its efforts on the Agenda 2030 and its SDGs and publishes the results as a report in the format of the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) report. This aims to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including actual steps, successes, challenges and lessons learnt, among local and regional governments, as well as to mobilise local stakeholder support to these efforts. It intends to complement the VNR process by reporting the local progress on and obstacles related to the implementation of SDGs and data collection. 

VLR Lab

VLR Lab enhances local governments’ ability to disseminate information and findings globally, and to do so more smoothly. It does so by serving as an online centralized information hub for VLRs by sub-national and local governments, as they provide details such as location, size and important goals, in addition to actual cases from the model local governments. In this way, local governments can use VLR Lab as an open space for peer-learning. 

Tools and Methodologies

road map

Regional Road Map

Recognizing the opportunities of regional cooperation to accelerate sustainable development, the countries of Asia and the Pacific agreed on a regional road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the 4th Asia Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017. The road map identifies priority areas of regional cooperation for the means of implementation and partnerships, as well as six thematic areas that correspond to major challenges still faced in our region:

  • leaving no one behind
  • climate change
  • connectivity
  • disaster risk reduction and resilience
  • management of natural resources
  • energy

To accelerate progress towards achieving SDGs, the road map calls for strengthened regional cooperation on these priority issues, continued and coordinated support provided by the secretariat and other UN institutions and (sub)regional organizations, as well as more effective knowledge sharing across borders.

road map progress

Regional Road Map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific: Progress Report 2019

The road map calls for reviews of its progress to take place annually at the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development. The present report uses a progress assessment methodology developed by ESCAP to assess the eleven priority areas of regional cooperation with reference to the sixty-two global means of implementation SDG targets in the global SDG indicator framework.

VNR Database

Voluntary National Reviews Database

The voluntary national reviews (VNRs) aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with the aim of accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

This online review platform is dedicated to compiling information from countries participating in the voluntary national reviews of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Handbook for the Preparation of VNRs

Handbook for the Preparation of Voluntary National Reviews 2019

This is a handbook for country preparation and presentation of voluntary national reviews (VNRs). It should be read in conjunction with the updated Secretary-General’s proposal for voluntary common reporting guidelines for voluntary national reviews at the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development (HLPF). The updated Secretary-General’s voluntary common guidelines are attached in the handbook as annex 2.

Other important resources are the synthesis reports of the 2016 and 2017 reviews. The reports provide a snapshot of general characteristics of the VNRs for that year and contain additional examples of good practices and lessons learned for countries conducting VNRs.

VNR Synthesis Report 2016

VNR Synthesis Report 2017

VNR Synthesis Report, Asia-Pacific Countries, 2017

VNR Synthesis Report 2018

Voluntary Common Reporting Guidelines

VNR Guidelines

The main guidance for the VNRs are the updated UN Secretary-General’s voluntary common reporting guidelines. The guidelines provide a framework for certain common elements within reviews, while allowing for flexibility so countries can adapt to their own circumstances. The guidelines serve to promote consistency between reviews and comparability over time. However, in line with the voluntary nature of the VNRs, it is up to countries to decide how to carry out their reviews, in accordance with their national contexts and circumstances.

Q&A for VNRs 2019

6th APFSD

Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development: Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies

Regional support to follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda is one of the agreed functions of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD), an inter-governmental mechanism convened by ESCAP on an annual basis. In fact, APFSD is now a fully recognised part of the SDG follow-up and review process and institutionalised as part of the ESCAP commission structure. The APFSD supports the region in preparation for the global level HLPF by enhancing capacity, capturing and sharing regional perspectives and supporting the review of progress toward implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The Forum supports the FUR process at the regional level through:

  1. (assessing progress and providing opportunities for peer learning related to the theme and goals that will be reviewed at the High-level Political Forum;
  2. supporting the presentation of Voluntary National Reviews; and
  3. undertaking periodic review of progress of the road map for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific.

HLPF 2019

High-Level Political Forum 2019

The Forum meets annually under the auspices of the Economic and Social Council for eight days, including a three-day ministerial segment and every four years at the level of Heads of State and Government under the auspices of the General Assembly for two days. The HLPF is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development and it has a central role in the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development the SDGs at the global level. The Forum adopts intergovernmentally negotiated political declarations.

guidelines to support countries reporting on SDGs

Guidelines to Support Country Reporting on the SDGs

The guidelines are divided into four chapters.

Chapter 1: focus on the follow-up and review processes at! global, regional and country levels. It details how the different processes intersect and the type of support the UN system can provide.

Chapter 2:  describes the 2030 Agenda principles and how they are relevant to the follow-up and review process at the country level. It also provides the critical elements for preparing a national SDG review and the structure of a national SDG report. 
Chapter 3:  is about indicators and data; defining national SDG indicators, setting baselines for monitoring and evaluation, and practical criteria for progress assessment including developing a SDG scorecard. 

Chapter 4: focuses on how to identify stakeholders for engagement, and encouraging inclusive approaches to national SDG review. The annexes provide examples of available methodologies that can be used to make the national SDGs report more analytical; step by step guide for developing a communications and dissemination plan; a checklist for managing the production of an SDG Report; and sample of sources, guidance notes and tools available of relevance to SDG reporting.

RIA

Rapid Integrated Assessment Tool

The Rapid Integrated Assessment (RIA) Tool aims to support countries in mainstreaming the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into national and subnational planning, by helping assess their readiness for SDG implementation. The tool suggests clear steps and templates for policy makers to conduct a rapid integrated assessment (RIA) of the SDGs to determine their relevance to the country context, both at the national and subnational level, and interlinkages across targets. The assessment is a first step in defining a roadmap for a country to implement the SDGs.

Engagement of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (DPO) in the VNR Process

Engagement of Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (DPO) in the VNR Process

This toolkit has been developed as an exploratory and interactive tool for organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs) on the monitoring mechanisms of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) implementation, called Voluntary National Reviews. The toolkit aims to provide step-by-step guidance, ideas, suggestions and templates for building successful advocacy campaigns and strategies to participate in the monitoring mechanisms of the Sustainable Development Goals.

vlr

VLR Lab

VLR Lab enhances local governments’ ability to disseminate information and findings globally, and to do so more smoothly. It does so by serving as an online centralized information hub for VLRs by sub-national and local governments, as they provide details such as location, size and important goals, in addition to actual cases from the model local governments. In this way, local governments can use VLR Lab as an open space for peer-learning. 

ebook

E-Handbook on Sustainable Development Goals Indicators

This handbook is targeted towards national statisticians to enable them to monitor progress made in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals based on data produced by national statistical systems.

It addresses the growing need for information targeted towards national statisticians to collect, calculate, and monitor the SDGs using data produced by the national statistical systems. We hope this will be a comprehensive yet straightforward reference that focuses on key aspects–such as concepts, definition, sources, calculations–that are essential to measuring indicators. It also provide additional links and references to more detailed information, so that national statisticians are able to delve into detailed references when needed.

VNRs

VNRs: Human Rights Mechanisms, Approaches and Tools

OHCHR has developed useful tools and approaches that can support States in reporting on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and at the same time may help States reduce their reporting burden.

UNV

Reflecting Citizen Contributions through Volunteering in VNRs 2019

United Nations Volunteers (UNV) works with UN Member States and other stakeholders to support evidence on whole-of-society approaches in their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). Globally, more than one billion active volunteers make economic and social contributions to development processes at scale.

Follow-up and Review