Voluntary national reviews (VNRs), are an important innovation as a United Nations process for follow up to the adoption of development agendas. Until now, the practice was to review implementation globally, primarily based on reports by the Secretary General. Agenda 2030 introduces a new approach that is ‘country led’, and that ‘take(s) into account national realities’, recognizing that ‘country ownership’ is central to the implementation of the agenda (UN 2015,para 74). Moreover, the approach is to be voluntary, transparent and participatory as well as based on robust evidence. The process is intended to facilitate learning from national experiences and to promote accountability to citizens. The VNRs are central to this new approach. Presented at the annual high-level political forum on sustainable development (HLPF) in the Ministerial segment, they provide an opportunity for countries to share their experiences in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Member States have shown great interest in the VNR process; 22 countries presented VNRs in the first year (2016) of implementation, while 43 countries presented in 2017 and 47 are scheduled to present in 2018. The process has also generated interest on the part of stakeholders. While some are contributing to the preparation of VNRs while others are commenting on the reports. A growing debate has emerged on this new process and on ways to improve its effectiveness.
As an independent group with diverse expertise, and a mandate to play an advisory role to ECOSOC , the CDP hopes contribute to this debate by undertaking an annual review of the VNRs1 2. This report presents a systematic overview assessment of the contents of the 43 VNRs presented in 2017 indicating general trends and highlighting interesting approaches taken in some countries. It focuses on three core objectives of Agenda 2030, namely: leaving no one behind; promoting an integrated strategy by addressing trade-offs amongst priorities in the agenda; and pursuing global partnership as means of implementation (SDG 17).