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Implementing the SDGs in 2018: how much progress have countries made?

30 January 2019
Author: Kit Dorey

In 2018, 93% of countries reported that non-state actors, like civil society organisations and businesses, were engaged in their Voluntary National Review (VNR) of how the Sustainable Development Goals are being implemented. This is a 19% increase from 2017. However, over 30% of reporting countries provided no information at all on how non-state actors were included in governance mechanisms for SDG delivery.

These are just two of the findings from the third edition of Progressing National SDG Implementation, an annual analysis of all countries’ VNRs, led by the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and directly supported by Bond and other international civil society organisations.

The report reviews the 46 VNRs submitted to the UN’s High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development in July 2018, according to 10 pillars that we believe are essential to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda. 

This thorough analysis sets out a range of insights, conclusions and recommendations for how countries can improve their SDG implementation and use the HLPF as an opportunity to share learning and knowledge.

The UK government is preparing to submit its first VNR alongside 50 other countries, and we are playing a critical role by advising them and calling for much greater action for delivering the SDGs in the UK and internationally by 2030. As we prepare to review UK progress on the SDGs, UK-based INGOs need to know what works and what doesn’t if we want to hold the UK government to account.  

For example, while 89% of countries submitting a VNR in 2017 provided some information on their efforts to ensure no one is left behind, only 35% gave a detailed enough account. We are calling on the UK and other governments to provide full accounts of the policies and programmes they have put in place to address the needs of the most marginalised and left behind groups.

The 2030 Agenda centres the need to incorporate human rights in SDG implementation and ensure coherence between different policy areas. Despite this, only 13% of countries referred to human-rights based approaches in SDG implementation and 43% did not examine the impact of domestic or foreign policies on other parts of the world.

There has been notable progress in some other areas. For example, 65% of reporting countries have incorporated the SDGs into their existing national development plans, something we would like to see implemented in the UK.

In September, there will be another special meeting of the HLPF at the UN General Assembly, to review the process and progress on SDGs to date and begin a process of reform. Bond and our partners are keen to see much greater space for civil society engagement and collaboration at future meetings.

The first version of the report, co-written by Bond and UKSSD covering 2016 can be found here [PDF]. The second, led by CCIC, for 2017 can be found here.

And explore strategies for advocating for the SDGs, with examples from around the world, at the Bond Conference 2019, 18-19 March.
 

About the author

Kit Dorey
Bond

Kit is a policy and advocacy adviser at Bond. He focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals and leave no one behind, and is the main contact for the SDG Group.