In an interview with Tari Bowling, she discussed how individual nations are holding themselves accountable for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This article looks more closely at who is doing what — which countries are participating in the voluntary national review process and, in particular, what France is doing, which is considered to be one of the best practice examples globally.
Voluntary national reviews
Since the introduction of the SDGs, stakeholders have come to understand that each SDG cannot be approached individually, and that collaboration on small and large scales needs to take place to realize these goals.
Nations need to have bodies in place to address SDG implementation at a local and national level, but “It would be great if, at the state level, they also had a department who was looking at what each of the individual states are doing, what are they approving,” says WASH expert Tari Bowling.
Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) allow countries to share their local, national, and global approaches to meeting the SDGs. Twenty-two countries — China, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Madagascar, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, Uganda and Venezuela — went through the VNR process last year, which was the first year of the program.
Almost twice as many countries have volunteered to be part of the 2017 VNRs, with forty planning to present: Afghanistan, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Maldives, Monaco, Nepal, the Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Qatar, Slovenia, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.
The SDG Knowledge Hub indicates that for this year’s VNRs, countries are expected to report on actions and measures taken to advance implementation of the SDGs and provide information on what progress they have made.
France as a best practice example
France is a country exploring SDG implementation at all levels and serves as a good example for other countries to emulate. It submitted its executive summary on the implementation of the SDGs in July 2016, prior to VNR presentations at that year’s session of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).
France’s Inter-ministerial Representative for Sustainable Development and General Commissioner for Sustainable Development steered the report on how the country fared at SDG implementation. National civil society organizations were also consulted. Public consultation came through online opportunities and consultative workshops.
The country’s national institute of statistics and economic studies is conducting a feasibility study on how SDGs can be accomplished on a national level. Social security systems and universal access to healthcare and basic goods and services have created a high standard of living in France. A framework also exists to cut greenhouse gas emissions and tackle unemployment.
The country adopted ten wealth indicators in 2015 reflecting employment, investment, national debt, health, inequalities, education, environmental protection and happiness, but is still working to cut down on inequalities, maintain healthy ecosystems and manage natural resources in a sustainable way, aid in unemployment and bring the population above the poverty line.
France is working toward international development goals, such as setting official development assistance of 0.7 per cent of its gross national income by 2030 and funding climate change action.
The country is planning to develop an SDG action plan through a multidisciplinary and inclusive process, including workshops, local reviews, and an online platform.