Civil society survey finds mixed results on SDGs progress

September 2019

A survey of civil society and international organisations, co-edited by Sightsavers, has been published this week during the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) summit at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The perceptions survey, titled Commitments and challenges: stakeholder participation in follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals, was conducted by Together 2030 and Newcastle University. It has a particular focus on the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process, where countries report on their progress towards the achievement of the SDGs.

The report focuses on three main issues: the amount of awareness of, and participation in, the process of VNRs; how responders are involved in review and implementation processes; and what, if any, progress has been seen on SDG implementation since 2015?

The 2019 report finds that there has been progress on increasing civil society awareness of (and participation in) VNRs – but also that there is no evidence that this awareness and engagement have made the VNRs more rigorous or effective in boosting SDG implementation. Most respondents report that they have seen little progress in their countries after VNRs.

The report also finds that VNR processes continue to exclude or leave behind marginalised groups, and that VNR processes have not always consistent with the United Nations guidelines and handbook for VNRs.

Report co-editor and Sightsavers’ Advocacy Adviser, Aissata Ndiaye, has written a blog about challenges that must be addressed following the survey, most notably the need “to see governments making more effort to ensure marginalised people are not just included, but included in a meaningful way. Because if marginalised groups are not meaningfully included, our efforts to implement the ‘leave no one behind’ principle – the essence of the SDGs – will fail.”

The full report is available on the Together 2030 website.

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