Effectiveness gaps hinder progress in sustainable development – CPDE VNR study 2021

The global civil society platform CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) has launched its study on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) at the national level, titled The long road to development: How effectiveness gaps hinder progress in Agenda 2030, last 6 July 2021.

Prepared in time for the United Nations High-Level Political Forum, the document presents the reflections and recommendations of civil society organisations (CSOs) on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the national level, using the lens of effective development cooperation (EDC).

Findings and analysis were based on the results of a survey conducted by CPDE from 27 March to 30 April 2021. A total of 109 CSOs from 45 countries participated, of which all but three are developing countries. CPDE has been conducting the study since 2018.

The framework of the CPDE VNR study looks into the four development effectiveness principles: ownership of development priorities by developing countries, inclusive partnership for development, a focus on results, and transparency and accountability.

Overall, the results of the study show that there is progress on ownership, transparency and accountability, country results framework, and focus on results. Focus on results have the slowest progress.

The study also found that national budgets are not aligned with SDG priorities, SDG results framework were not open to the public, and governments tend to highlight achievements in their SDG reporting while leaving out their shortcomings and failures.

Moreover, most governments were not proactive in disseminating SDG information, some governments consult with CSOs in SDG discussions, but inputs from civil society do not necessarily influence the formulation and implementation of SDG policies.

SDG implementation has been delayed or disrupted by the pandemic and related restrictions such as lockdowns. It did yield notable contingent benefits, such as the formation of multistakeholder partnerships and the promotion of gender equality in national development programmes.

Finally, CSO respondents identified significant gaps in SDG implementation, including the lack of resources for civil society engagement in SDG processes.

Rita Triharyani of Yogyakarta-based Yakkum Rehabilitation Centre spoke on VNR reporting in Indonesia. She shared that Indonesia’s ministry of development and planning has opened an online channel for CSOs and academics to engage in. The VNR draft of Indonesia was opened to consultations. The National Statistics Department of Indonesia has helped in collecting more inclusive data in spite of the pandemic.

However, CSOs are not informed on data aggregation and collection, requirements on which CSOs can participate in consultations is limiting, and only CSOs based in Jakarta are able to participate in draft report consultations due to short-notice of the draft report’s launch. A limited number of organisations working with Persons with Disability engaged in this year’s VNRs, despite the focus on inclusiveness.

CPDE Senior Policy and Liaison Officer Matt Simonds explained that experiences that presented as Indonesia’s VNR experience reflect the same findings by the CPDE VNR 2021 Study. The same is true for Myanmar, as shared by CPDE member Local Resource Center’s Nyi Nyi Aung.

He shared that Burmese civil society space is shrinking, with many CSO leaders detained or in hiding since the takeover of the military regime. The situation, he says, has made it hard to achieve the SDG targets. Assistance to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps is also made difficult by travel restrictions, and humanitarian work has become more challenging. Humanitarian aid amid the COVID-19 situation is also being hindered by the military.

CPDE’s study puts forward the following recommendations to promote meaningful progress in Agenda 2030:

  • Duty-bearers must cooperate with civil society in translating the 2030 Agenda into local plans, programmes, and monitoring efforts.
  • The national SDG review processes must be open to the public, and information dissemination is conducted in a proactive manner that connects with citizens, not just technical experts.
  • Ensure civil society engagement in the 2030 Agenda implementation by formalising and institutionalising CSO participation in governance structures.
  • Respect and protect the rights of all citizens to conduct their independent monitoring and review of the 2030 Agenda, including those who may be critical of state policies and programmes.
  • Map out the links between specific policies, programmes, and budget allocations with results when reporting progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda.

The study may be accessed via https://csopartnership.org/research-studies/.#

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