Vice-President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Collen Kelapile,
Ambassador Juan Sandoval Mendiolea,
Welcome to this First global webinar for countries presenting Voluntary National Reviews at the High-level political forum on sustainable development, next July, 2021.
I congratulate your countries for volunteering – during these difficult times – to carry out a review of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This is the sixth year that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs has been organizing the preparatory process for the VNRs. Today’s webinar is the first of three global workshops that we will convene, leading up to next July.
But, as you all know, this year is different. Many hard-achieved development gains are threatened, as the attention and resources of all countries have been drawn toward addressing the health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
As we strive to respond and recover better, we must reconsider the shortcomings and injustices that pre-existed the crisis, which have been laid bare by COVID-19. This will also help in our efforts to ensure effective and strengthened multilateralism and global solidarity, going forward.
Thus, as we respond to the pandemic, we must aim to build the kind of inclusive and resilient economies, societies and systems we need to realize the Sustainable Development Goals. The 2030 Agenda and its SDGs are the framework for a resilient and sustainable recovery.
The work of the HLPF in reviewing progress towards realizing the 2030 Agenda, is essential for peer learning and renewing action and progress in achieving the SDGs.
At the heart of this process are the voluntary national reviews, which have become a hallmark of the HLPF. Since 2016, 168 countries have presented a VNR at least once. Their reviews have provided an essential source of lessons learned and experience in implementing the SDGs, And, in 2020, on how to deal with impact of COVID-19.
Indeed, countries who presented VNRs at the HLPF this year, reported on the various measures they have put in place to deal with the impact of the pandemic. I am sure you will also address this in your presentations next year.
For next year’s HLPF, ten of you are conducting a VNR for the first time. We have 25 for second time, and nine for third time.
I would like to share some lessons we learned from supporting this process over the past six years.
First, many more countries now are following the Secretary-General’s guidelines for VNRs, than at the beginning of the process. This is making comparability among reports better to assess.
Second, countries have made significant progress in integrating the SDGs into national development plans, sectoral strategies and budgets. Many have increased the focus on implementation at the sub-national level.
Third, most VNR countries, in the past two years, dedicated a section of their report to the principle of leaving no one behind, and what it means in their national context. This was not the case in the first years.
Fourth, in line with the Secretary-General’s guidelines for VNRs, more countries are reviewing the implementation of all the SDGs – not only those under review at the HLPF that year. Also, as countries are working on indicators and collecting data, many more countries provide data to show progress in achieving the SDGs.
Fifth, many more countries are involving stakeholders in preparing the report and presentation on the VNR. There are various modalities and approaches.
And sixth, let me point out that during those workshops, you will learn a lot from one another – maybe more than from us – even though several divisions of my department are supporting the workshop. Since we have a majority of countries coming for the second and third time, we will be able to learn from their experience. It will be important to address the issues they raised in the previous VNR – in the upcoming one.
Let me conclude by wishing you a very good workshop. My department stands ready to support you throughout this process.