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.

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.

 

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 2018

APFSD

Fifth 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.

HLPF2018

High-Level Political Forum 2018

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.

Follow-up and Review