Case Studies

Discover the Case Studies

listed and broken down by module.

Module 1: Integrating VNR Findings into Government Architecture

Case Study: An Evolving Tool in Coordination, Inclusion, Accountability, and Implementation: The SDGs Council, Georgia

In 2017 and after its 2016 VNR, Georgia created the SDGs Council to facilitate SDG implementation and monitoring. It is chaired by the Government’s Head of Administration, co-chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and reports to the Prime Minister. In 2019, the SDGs Council was separated from the Public Administration Reform Council and was established as an independent entity. The below briefly details the Council’s evolution for stronger impact.

Composition: Since 2017, the Council has grown to include over 15 public institutions, including deputy ministers from all relevant line ministries, state agencies, mayors and elected co-chairs of thematic working groups from civil society. In addition, parliamentary committees, UN Agencies, and other International Organizations (IOs) may be asked to participate, though without the right to vote.

How it Works: Its coordination mechanism operates through a three-part structure: the Council itself, the Secretariat (the Policy Planning Unit within the Administration), and four Working Groups: Economic Development, Democratic Governance, Social Inclusion and Sustainable Energy and Environment Protection. In 2019, the Council’s composition changed, with the Working Groups’ operational methods made more inclusive, with chairs or co-chairs (including civil society and the UN) having stronger advocacy and decision-making roles.(Working Groups include the private sector, academia and other IOs.)

Where It Gets Its Information: The Council now draws its data from the SDGs National Document (the Matrix) and the Electronic Monitoring System (EMS). The Matrix reflects global and Georgia-adjusted targets and indicators, baseline indicators, data sources, and the responsible entity. The SDGs Matrix also includes scorecards. Through EMS, launched in 2019, ministries are directly informed should they fall behind. In terms of policy, the Council can now make recommendations to line ministries and others, with EMS providing a concrete monitoring instrument. Recommendations are often tied to the national Policy Development and Coordination System, with further links made to Georgia’s Public Administration Reform efforts.

Impact of the VNR: The updated SDGs Council played a crucial role in Georgia’s 2020 VNR. The Secretariat acted within its new mandate to coordinate the process. Working Groups provided information and recommendations to the draft documents and, after several rounds of review, the Council, defined as a political decision-making body, adopted the final version of Georgia’s 2020 VNR.

Take-aways and Going Forward: A clear division of labor and mandates, with proper civil society engagement, ensured a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach to Georgia’s 2020 VNR, focused on progress and accountability. Wide-reaching communication mechanisms were still lacking.

* This case study is based on interviews with the Policy Planning Unit within the Administration of the Government of Georgia.

Case Study: Aligning Budgets with the SDGs and SDG 16 for longer-term National Planning, Mexico

As of, and according to, the 2019 World Public Sector Report, Mexico “stands out as having moved the farthest in terms of mapping the SDGs into its national planning and budgeting processes”. Mexico’s efforts to integrate the SDGs into its national strategies and plans started in 2016, shortly after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda. The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, which oversees the development of national and sector plans, in partnership with UNDP and the Office of the Presidency, which is responsible for national SDG implementation, developed a methodology to monitor and evaluate the performance of the national budget in contributing to the SDGs.

The first step was to identify links between sectoral strategies and the SDGs’ 169 targets. Based on these links, the Ministry of Finance then identified budget programmes related to each SDG target. The analysis was reviewed and validated by line ministries. Initial results indicated the need for more disaggregated information to assess the specific contribution of each budget programme to the related SDG target(s), as different budget and sector programmes contribute to the different aspects of each target.

In 2017, the Ministry of Finance integrated the methodology into the 2018 Budget Statement of the Executive Budget Proposal. This brought in the IT systems for budget preparation, which included a module for linking budget programmes with SDG targets or sub-targets and tracking budget execution. Complementary fiscal transparency measures were also adopted, such as integrating a summary of the methodology into the Citizen Budget and publishing the results of this exercise in open data.

According to Mexico’s 2018 VNR, in the 2018 federal budget, 80.7 percent of Budgetary Programmes (BPs) were connected to the 2030 Agenda, while 156 of the 169 SDG indicators are connected to at least one BP. The vast majority of these programmes are linked in some way to SDG 16 .

Take-Aways: Several factors facilitated Mexico’s budget reform process, including: an existing national budget programme structure with performance targets; standing coordination between planning and budgeting processes; existent monitoring and performance evaluation systems; and political will within the Ministry of Finance to develop methodology linking SDG targets with the budget.

Going forward, not just where, but how funds are spent needs to be evaluated, moving beyond mapping to monitoring and evaluation in order to understand the effectiveness of public policies and programming in reaching SDG 16 and all prioritize SDGs.

* Case Study draws from the 2018 World Public Sector Report, with input provided by Mexico’s 2030 Agenda Office within the Office of the President.

Case Study: Advancing SDG 16 through Post-VNR Action: A Directorate for Access to Justice, Sierra Leone

Access to Justice and Judicial Reform was central to Sierra Leone’s 2019 VNR. Identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report as one of the primary causes for the civil war, reform of a weak justice sector has since been a priority. For Sierra Leone, the VNR (having presented in 2019 and 2016) entails an integrated, multi-stakeholder process linked to national development planning, with additional links to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the New Deal. Its 2019 VNR was specifically tied to the Government of Sierra Leone’s Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) 2019-2023.

Therefore, and following from the VNR and MTNDP, the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, as custodian of SDG 16, embarked on establishing a Directorate on Access to Justice to connect formal and informal justice mechanisms under one umbrella entity as a means of more effectively and efficiently answering people’s justice needs. For example, in the case of land disputes, the Directorate would help those in the provinces know where to take their judicial issues for recourse (formal or informal, such as alternative dispute resolution). The Directorate will be responsible for coordinating non-state actors, justices for the peace, and informal and customary law processes. In so doing, partnering, and working with civil society will be critical.

The Directorate will also work with other justice sector institutions on implementation and monitoring of relevant SDG 16 targets. These include the Law Reform Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Legal Aid Board, the Human Rights Commission, the Sierra Leone Law School, the Registrar General’s Office, and the Justice Sector Coordination Office.1. Amidst COVID-19 challenges, the Directorate was set to be fully operational by end 2020. 

Take-Aways and Going Forward: There should be an SDG 16 Sector Working Group, inclusive of civil society, academics, and justice-related institutions, and with an effective communication strategy. This would support the coordination of SDG 16 stakeholders in monitoring and reporting and help close the gender gap in access to justice.

Case Study: Linking the VNR and SDG 16 Implementation with National Reform Processes, Lesotho

The 2019 VNR in Lesotho coincided with its National Dialogue and Reform Process, an effort to bring about transformation, long-term stability, and sustainable peace against a backdrop of decades of political upheaval. The strategic positioning of the reform process in achieving SDG 16, as captured in the VNR, was such that the VNR became an important policy tool, among others, in continuing the national dialogue process. Supported by UNDP, the dialogue process led to national consensus on SDG 16-related reforms across a range of sectors. Key steps related to the VNR and longer-term SDG 16 implementation were as follows: 

Political commitment and national strategy – Leading up to the VNR and building on the regional intervention of South African Development Community and the Commonwealth, UNDP, with funding from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, galvanized political and social leadership among local and international actors, as well as development partners to formulate the roadmap that guided national dialogue and reforms process.

Establishment of clear leadership, horizontal and vertical coordination mechanism – A National Dialogue Planning Committee coordinated an inclusive and participatory national consultation process. National Leaders Forums and Multi-stakeholder Dialogue Plenaries helped bring consensus on reforms and implementation options. This content became a statement of policy intent in the VNR.

Coordinated thought leadership and policy articulation – A UN/Development Partners Technical Advisory Group was established to coordinate thought leadership and technical support by experts. This entailed distilling views from consultative dialogues into reform content and implementation options, which were presented to the Leaders Forums and Multi-stakeholder Plenaries. Content became the policy proposal for SDG 16 embedded in the VNR.

The National Reforms Authority (created through the NRA Act) – This provides a legal and institutional framework for implementation of the agreed reforms that significantly contributes to attainment of SDG 16. The NRA Act guards against interference and provides a long-term track for accelerating progress towards SDG 16 by ensuring successful implementation of SDG 16-related reforms.

The National dialogue highlighted the value of linking the VNR to local realities and national development planning processes. These included: a legislative framework and legal mandate for reform implementation (NRA Act 2019); institutions to oversee implementation; allocation of resources and financing through the budget (Appropriation Bill 2019); and a programme of support for coordinated reform implementation across development partners.

Take-aways and Going Forward: For the VNR to be an effective advocacy tool, there must be national consensus on key development issues and underlying challenges, with a well-defined roadmap to address those issues. To this end, VNR recommendations must be linked to national development strategies and policy priorities for adequate follow-up.

In addition, horizontal, vertical, and technical coordination is critical to inclusion, policy coherence and the formulation of policy proposals that become part of a VNR. In terms of data, national repositories of statistics should be supported to generate, process, and manage SDG 16-specific data, including through related surveys, with academic and research institutions also engaged in national VNR monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

*Case Study draws from insight and input provided by UNDP Lesotho in 2019.

Module 2: The Role of Parliament and Parliamentary Committees

Case Study: Reporting Back on the VNR through Parliamentary Committee, UK

Following the UK’s presentation of its first VNR at the 2019 HLPF, which focused in part on SDG 16, the International Development Committee (IDC) within the UK’s House of Commons (one of the UK’s two parliamentary houses) produced a report assessing the UK’s performance, which was presented to Parliament and made available to the public. A few of the report findings, as paraphrased, are below:

  • Stakeholder engagement was lacking and the process was rushed, despite having had adequate time. This prevented stakeholders from meaningfully engaging in, or influencing, the final VNR.
  • Engagement recommended by the UN, such as consultations with human rights institutions, trades unions; business and industry; civil society; parliamentarians and UK academia – was late, ad hoc and superficial.
  • The VNR itself was selective and partial, relying on cherry-picked data. It skirted discussion of some serious issues, for instance, food security, poverty trends and EU withdrawal.
  • The message received is that the UK does not see the SDGs as integral to the government’s overall agenda, further evidenced with DFID as lead, as opposed to the Cabinet Office, whose role is to “support collective government, helping to ensure the effective development, coordination and implementation of policy”.

The IDC recommended that overall responsibility for the SDGs be given to the Cabinet Office, that the SDGs be built into cross-government planning, spending review and reporting processes, among other actions, and that the UK report again in 2022 through a more consultative process with more rigorous, data-driven and contextualized performance evaluation against SDG targets. The government responded in turn, “partially agreeing” with most IDC recommendations, and then strictly “disagreeing” or “agreeing” with a few, including around the need for stronger engagement going forward.

Take-aways and Going Forward: This case study highlights Parliament’s oversight role and the importance of meaningful and institutionalized stakeholder engagement, early on and through substantive consultation.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with a member of the IDC and Bond, UK.

Case Study: Translating VNR Priorities into Legislative Action through Parliament, Timor-Leste

In line with its Strategic Development Plan (2011-2030), Timor-Leste’s 2019 VNR prioritized, among other issues, strengthening the justice sector as a means of consolidating peace, enhancing accountability, and promoting the rule of law. As such, Timor-Leste’s National Parliament is developing and implementing a legislative package on justice sector reform, geared to ensure access to effective and efficient justice and protection, particularly for women, children and vulnerable groups.

With UNDP’s support and through engagement of key actors within the justice sector, including the government, the Office of the President, justice institutions, civil society and development partners, this National Parliament legislation package aims to produce laws on: judiciary organization; programming of training for the justice sector; the statute of judicial magistrates; the statute of public prosecutors; amendments to the statute public defenders; as well as reviews of the criminal code and the criminal procedural code. The reform package is based on findings from the Legislative Reform Commission and the Justice Sector Strategic Development Plan. 2 Five draft laws have been presented to the National Parliament with two more to be delivered by the end of July 2020. The project is being implemented.

Take-Away and Going Forward: The VNR allowed Parliament and the Government to reassess the country’s development patterns, reviewing/mapping the policy and institutional mechanisms aligned with the SDGs and building stakeholder engagement around them, identifying areas requiring more implementation support, and opening paths to partnerships at all levels, including with other countries. Parliament also planned on assessing its own readiness to oversee government commitments to SDG implementation and how it might assist in framing and implementing SDG policies.

In the future, additional focus should be paid on VNR and follow-up communication with all stakeholders, including institutions, and a national legal framework should be established to make the inclusion of VNR recommendations in state planning mandatory and binding on state institutions.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with UNDP, Timor-Leste.

Case Study: SDG Integration, Parliamentary Committees, Fiji

Since 2016, the Fijian Parliament has undertaken a series of initiatives to promote and ensure progress on SDG implementation. Recent efforts have focused, in particular, on mainstreaming and integrating the SDGs into its work and the work of Parliamentary Committees as a means of exercising its executive oversight role in implementing the SDGs and legislative function.

Building upon a 2017 self-assessment, Fiji’s Parliament, along with partners, launched a guidance note in 2019 on integrating the SDGs across the work of Parliament Committees, addressing the alignment of committee systems, structures and mandates to SDG-linked national development priorities, with baselines and agreed reporting processes on progress. Additional focus was placed on the use of SDG indicators in tracking progress towards SDG and NDP targets as Parliament and Parliamentary Committees scrutinize legislative bills, annual reports, sector performances, public expenditure and engage with the public. While SDG 16 suffers from a lack of baseline indicators as reflected in its National Development Plan, 3  Committees have nonetheless been able to move forward in support of SDG 16, including working with Fiji’s NHRI on addressing police brutality and drawing from Annual Reports of institutions or agencies that fall within their purview.

The Standing Committees primarily focused on SDG 16 are the Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense. In exercising their oversight role, these Committees review the Annual Reports of institutions or agencies that fall within their purview and then ask questions of those entities, with responses and follow-up actions carried out in return.

For example, based on its 2016, 2017 and 2018 Annual Reports, the Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights asked Fiji’s Human Rights Commissions how the Commission has sought to advance SDG 16, including in following up on complaints and allegations of police brutality and misconduct. In return, the Commission highlighted its actions and the responses of relevant institutions, whether Fiji’s Police, its Corrections Service or the Judiciary, to allegations and grievances noted.

While the work of Parliament on SDG integration and the VNR are separate, parallel processes, Fiji’s 2019 VNR placed significant focus on the rule of law as an enabler of development, highlighting the underlying importance of SDG 16 to the work of the Committees and to the NDP, despite a lack of data.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: Solving for Data. The lack of local baseline data and local targets in Fiji’s NDP for certain SDGs should not deter Parliament from working through its committees to push government ministries and departments to set targets and goals even outside of the NDP. This would allow Parliamentary Committees to monitor ministry and department progress in achieving those SDGs and targets through annual reports tabled by those entities to parliament. In the absence of nationally-set baselines, targets and reliable data, Parliament should consider using global targets (or regional targets, if existent for a particular SDG) as reference in conducting government oversight.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with UNDP, Fiji.


Case Study: SDG Accountability and SDG Readiness, SAI, Chile

In 2019, Chile’s Comptroller General participated in the country’s second VNR, collaborating with the Chilean government across four parameters. The below details these parameters and the work that CGR did in these regards. 4

Assessing the government’s readiness to implement, monitor and report on the SDGs: Between 2016 and 2019, the CGR carried out five audits to evaluate the government’s preparedness. These audits focused on: institutionalization, strategy, coordination (intergovernmental and across stakeholders), monitoring, reporting and transparency, as well as on SDGs prioritized by the government (SDG 16, 7, 5 and 2.4) Recommendations included improved interministerial coordination for national planning, with clearly defined responsibilities, organizational structure and information to feed into the VNR. They also focused on reducing implementation risks related to SDG 2.4, given possible challenges around alignment, coordination and monitoring mechanisms for related public policies.

Auditing Government Programmes that Contribute to the SDGs: This included issuing guidelines and specific tools for auditee reports to consider how government programmes are aligned with, or contribute to, SDG implementation and compliance, framing assessments around SDG 16, and identifying the SDG(s) linked to that audit. To support this process, a virtual desktop was created for audited entities to access observations made and efforts to correct them. A compliance support system was also created for CGR to work with internal auditees.

Exemplifying Transparency and Accountability: The CGR voluntarily raised its compliance standards to meet current, institutional transparency laws. It also created a transparency portal (which goes beyond legal requirements) where citizens can access CGR’s budget and how it was spent, including travel costs of officials and information about staffing (position, grade, salary, paid overtime).

Evaluating and Supporting SDG 16 Implementation: Led by CGR and UNDP Chile, the UNCAC Chile Anticorruption Alliance plays an important role in advancing SDG 16. The Alliance, bringing together 28 institutions from the public, private and civil society sectors, works to implement UNCAC principles through four areas: promotion of integrity (in the public sector, for SMEs that supply the state, and for state companies), training, legislative initiatives, and good practices in compliance with UNCAC.


Case Study: Public Access to Information and Local Monitoring, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan offers an example of a local monitoring initiative reporting progress on SDG 16, specifically SDG 16.10.2 on Public Access to Information. Despite Pakistan being an early adopter in South Asia of a Right to Information (RTI) law in 2002, the use of the law by its citizens was limited. Accordingly, the KP Province then adopted its own RTI Law and appointed an independent oversight body, the RTI Information Commission. Civil society and the media have since made many requests, appealed against refusals to disclose information, and used the law to promote government accountability and inform citizens.

Using a methodology developed by local governments and civil society, the province’s RTI Commission concluded that the right to information had started to reverse the culture of secrecy in Pakistan, while supporting relationship-building efforts between the government and the people based on transparency and citizen engagement in public decision-making, inspiring other provinces to carry out similar monitoring and reporting.

Case Study: Oaxaca and the VSR, Mexico

Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s 32 federal states, presented its first Voluntary Sub-national Review (VSR) at the 2020 UN General Assembly. In revising its State Development Plan (2016-2022) to align with Mexico’s NDP (2019-2024), the Oaxacan Government sought to create an integrated, multi-level strategy that relates to national and regional planning in achieving the SDGs. The State Plan is to have three SDG 16 specific local indicators for future reporting. Further, in linking governance levels, Oaxaca prepared, in collaboration with GIZ, a guide for its municipalities to align local plans with the SDGs. In addition, the state government selected 10 local governments to work closely with GIZ to develop legal and planning tools for reaching the SDGs through their sustainable development plans guidelines.

Recognizing a historical lack of trust in multi-stakeholder activities, Oaxaca prioritized multi-stakeholder engagement, inclusion, and transparency in developing its VSR and next steps. The VSR’s main operating body, the State Council for the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda charged with integrating the SDGs into state policy and monitoring implementation with office or department attribution, has three Working Committees that include civil society, academia, and government institutions, with civil society acting as chair. These Committees feed into the VSR and cover social inclusion (where SDG 16 lies), economic growth and environment sustainability. In addition, civil society also takes part in the Council’s ‘ordinary sessions’.

Furthering inclusion, the VSR has been translated into native languages, with the purpose of being socialized among various groups through partners, including different actors from the governor’s cabinet as well as state TV and radio. In strengthening citizen awareness and transparency, Oaxaca also publishes online how public resources are spent and who the beneficiaries of social programs are.

Take-aways and Going Forward: Include civil society and other actors in drafting and designing the VSR, as well as implementation through national and local policy – for example, through multi-stakeholder partnerships and participatory budgeting.

Civil society is often better equipped to understand local needs, particularly for the most vulnerable, and what actions need to be prioritized. Furthermore, VSRs should be strengthened and promoted at HLPF.

Finally, VSR-generated data should be considered for the VNR (accompanied by additional standardization efforts) to better track SDG progress at local levels.

Case Study: The First VLR, New York City, U.S.

New York City (NYC) created the concept of the VLR in 2018 and has submitted two (2018 and 2019). For NYC, producing a VLR strengthened intergovernmental coordination at the local level for SDG 16 and all SDGs. Lessons learned from the 2018 VLR were incorporated into the OneNYC strategy meetings that set the policy priorities for NYC every four years. The OneNYC 2050 strategy now includes a commitment to submit a VLR to the UN every year.

The VLR also allowed NYC to highlight partnerships that strengthen SDG 16 implementation. For example, the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence (16.1) serves as a coordinating agency, linking City initiatives, community-based nonprofits and everyday New Yorkers to partner in creating healthy, vibrant communities and addressing the causes and traumas of gun violence. In addressing issues related to corruption (16.4), the Department of Investigations within law enforcement was consulted. In unpacking links to SDG 16.3 and SDG 5.2, 2019 site visits informing the VLR included a tour of the Manhattan Family Justice Center hosted by the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: Modeled after the VNR, the VLR is an opportunity to reflect on a city’s successes, areas for improvement, and how to best address challenges, including as related to SDG 16.


Case Study: Awareness Raising, Stakeholder Engagement, and Follow-on Action, SDG Working Groups and CSO Inclusion, the SDGs Kenya Forum, Kenya

Kenya recognizes that stakeholder engagement and public participation are integral in developing, designing, and implementing policies and development strategies that benefit all Kenyans. As such, the government created the Inter-Agency Technical Working Group (IATWG), which includes a diversity of stakeholders to advocate, implement, and report on the SDGs. The IATWG comprises all key umbrella institution representatives.

The IATWG co-convenors include Kenya’s State Department for Planning’s SDGs Coordination Directorate, the SDGs Kenya Forum, and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.  Within this Working Group, CSO engagement and SDGs coordination is spearheaded by the SDGs Kenya Forum.

As the actor responsible for mobilizing, gathering, and organizing all civil society input, the SDGs Kenya Forum is critical to supporting the Government of Kenya’s whole-of-society VNR approach. Input provided by the Forum is integrated into the final VNR and separately annexed to ensure that CSO voices are clearly represented. (Kenya first presented in 2017 and again in 2020.) In addition to its VNR civil-society-convening role, the SDGs Kenya Forum’s also organizes national and multi-stakeholder biennial reports for local consumption, designed to continuously track Kenya’s SDG progress. The first was produced in 2019 led by the National Treasury and State Planning-SDGs Unit.

Both the VNR and the biennial reports revealed information gaps among CSOs as related to SDG 16, despite its relevance to their work. In response, the Forum began to organize CSOs through ‘Goal Groups’ aligned to SDG targets and indicators. These groups provided a more structured and effective means of engagement for CSOs either working on SDG 16 or interested in doing so.

Under the aegis of the SDGs Forum, ARTICLE 19, as the SDG 16 lead, held three workshops for government, media and CSOs working within the scope of SDG 16 targets. This was instrumental in bridging stakeholder gaps, leveraging sector experience and expertise and aligning organizational mandates for better monitoring and accelerating action.

With a diversified stakeholder base, this new SDG 16 Goal Group was able to further strategize on the structure of engagement of state (through the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management within the Ministry of Interior) and non-state actors working on SDG 16. This resulted in the formation of four working groups: Violence and Conflict Prevention, Gender-Based Violence and Non-Discrimination, Rights and Freedoms, and Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows.

Notwithstanding the challenges of a new convening strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CSO input on SDG 16 saw an increase during the 2020 VNR (17 organizations contributing), with even more engagement during the validation process. This was significantly higher than the 2017 VNR process or the biennial progress report engagement.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: VNR recommendations need proper financing and budget allocations. Most fall outside of Kenya’s budget and are therefore not acted upon. Others fall outside endorsed laws and thus bottleneck intervention.

Reporting guidelines should ask countries to articulate post-VNR processes at country level, including as linked to human rights mechanisms, noting challenges and measures taken to scale best practices, and providing lessons learned for improved implementation.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with the SDGs Kenya Forum

Case Study: CSO inclusion, Complementary Dialogue Processes, and the Need to Localize, the National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for the New Deal, Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) faced significant challenges in presenting its 2019 VNR. In 2018 and following six years of civil war, the National Peace Recovery and Consolidation Plan (RCPCA), a formal peace agreement, was signed. However, armed rebel groups still controlled about 70 percent of the country, posing immense security challenges. Despite such obstacles, CAR and its partners moved forward with the VNR, aligned with the RCPCA and its NDP, also in anticipation of elections in December 2020. In 2018, a National Committee was also established to nationalize 2030 targets and indicators.

The National Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for the New Deal (CNOSC) , a coalition of 30+ organizations supported by CSPPS, was the main civil society partner involved in CAR’s VNR, working closely with the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation. Adopting an inclusive approach, CNOSC built upon its pre-existing relationship with the government, including as related to its involvement in local and national dialogue processes around the RCPCA, to effectively engage in VNR/post-VNR efforts.

In preparing for the VNR, little local ownership of the 2030 Agenda was observed. Further, a national gender profile showed women as severely underrepresented in political, economic, and administrative decision-making. Despite a law on gender, women make up only 6.5 percent of National Assembly deputies and 17.6 percent of members of government. Inequalities are more pronounced for rural women. As such, the VNR proposed 29 recommendations, including on girls’ education, rebalancing the gender parity index as related to the law on parity, and on awareness-raising, ownership, and capacity-building.

In response, the CNOSC established a series of actions aimed at recommendations focused on SDG 16 and SDG 5, awareness-raising and ownership of the 2030 Agenda, and building synergy and collaboration around implementation, particularly at the local level. Not exhaustive, these included:

  • Documenting the VNR preparation processes (key messages and lessons learned);
  • Producing a short film on the process for national television and awareness-raising campaigns;
  • Supporting CSO collaboration in post-VNR processes and national development planning;
  • An awareness-raising campaign and capacity-building project to improve participation of women as trained candidates in the presidential and legislative elections (December 2020); and
  • A sensitization campaign focused on CSOs and others at the local level to catalyse implementation and action.

* Much of the above has been stalled due to a lack of funding/redistribution of funding related to COVID-19, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders. The pandemic has fueled social divisions, with growing distrust between the population and the government.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: Civil society’s technical and operational capacities, including in manipulating quantitative tools and methodologies, should be strengthened to promote ownership of achievements and perspectives and increase community engagement.

Financial support for CSOs locally is crucial to implementation. Improved statistical data for future reporting should also be considered. Finally, collaboration between CNOSC, the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Cooperation and partners during the VNR should continue in support of the peace and development targets in the NDP. Inclusive planning, monitoring and evaluation processes are critical to effective action, particularly in FCAS (Fragile and Conflict-Affected Settings).

* This case study draws on 2019 interviews with CNOSC

Case Study: Civil Society, Localizing SDG 16, and Responding to COVID-19, the SDGs Network, Iraq

The “SDGs Network”, formed in 2019 with the support of UNDP Iraq, is a network of 38 Iraqi CSOs that aims to support the Government in implementing and monitoring the SDGs at national and sub-national levels, with a focus on SDG 5, SDG 16, and SDG 17.

While the network has undertaken several SDGs related initiatives, including having had an innovative role in deriving informal data on SDG 16 for Iraq’s Voluntary National Review in 2019, the Network has had a particularly critical role in supporting women and girls through the COVID-19 pandemic under an SDG 16 framing.

In line with SDG Targets 16.1 &16.2, and with the support of UNDP Iraq, the Network launched an initiative aimed at measuring the direct and indirect psychosocial and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on the lives of women and girls. Through the initiative, and with the support of UNDP, as related to its support for social cohesion, the Network enhanced the skills of 95 social workers to reach 7,700 girls and women with online psychosocial support.

In addition, and under the same UNDP pillar and in response to the recent call of the Secretary- General to place women and girls at the core of COVID-19 responses, the Network developed a pilot study by collecting survey responses from women in five newly liberated governorates (Ninewa, Anbar, Salah al-Din, and Kirkuk) addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their lives.

The Network’s success in working in partnership with governmental entities, civil society organizations, and international organizations to support the local community has brought attention to the importance of civil society organization in the development and recovery process, providing a starting point to a ‘resilience for peace’ approach towards building peaceful and inclusive societies.

Source: UNDP

Case Study: Localizing SDG 16+: Somaliland and the SDG 16+ Coalition

While endorsing the 2030 Agenda and integrating the SDGs into its NDP, Somaliland has never presented a VNR largely due to its unrecognized status. Civil society decided to fill this gap and lead the process themselves, producing the Somaliland SDG16+ Civil Society Progress Report in 2019.

Over two years (2017-2018), civil society carried out a detailed review of progress made in achieving SDG 16+ priority targets and related processes, holding workshops throughout Somaliland with 55 different CSOs representing women’s groups, youth groups, those focusing on minority rights, disability groups and others. Efforts to identify and mobilize champions within the government were also prioritized, focusing on the Office of the Chief Justice, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of National Planning and Development – all critical for SDG 16+ implementation. By the end of 2018, the Chief Justice, the Justice Minister, officials from the Ministry of Planning and the Attorney General’s Office had made public statements about SDG 16+ or included it in their work plans.

In Somaliland, the SDG 16+ Coalition used the process of developing and following up on the 2019 baseline report to promote civil society inclusion in SDG 16+ efforts nationally and locally, combining civil society and “official” data.

The 2019 report has helped to ensure that commitments made to SDG 16+ implementation are kept and remain localized, that shortcomings are highlighted, and that there is a way to measure and incentivize future progress.

Take-aways: This experience shows how the SDG framework can help activists articulate their own priorities for peace, justice, and inclusion, and galvanize collective action. For specific results, see Mainstreaming Case Study and Saferworld’s Somaliland site.

* Case Study comes from 2019 interviews with SDG 16+ Coalition and relevant Saferworld reports.


Case Study: Incentivizing Private Sector Participation, the Global Compact Network South Africa

The Global Compact Network South Africa (GCNSA) has as its principle focus private sector contributions to the SDGs, as aligned to the country’s NDP and underpinned by the application of UNGC’s Ten Principles. In 2018, South Africa’s Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, through the National Planning Commission, asked GCNSA to be its private sector institutional partner and to support the coordination of the private sector’s contribution to the NDP and SDG process. Findings from this collaboration then fed into South Africa’s VNR.5.

While the VNR process was viewed by many GCNSA businesses as an opportunity to build an ongoing platform to unify private sector action around the 2030 Agenda, South Africa’s NDP, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and other public sector plans, companies interviewed largely saw the delivery of SDG 16 and its targets as outside their sphere of responsibility. However, many agreed with SDG 16 in principle, as most companies want a South Africa free of corruption and with strong institutions and a trusted economy. Further, the financial services industry saw strong interest in SDG 16, given its interest in the economic credibility of South Africa. Those within the electricity, gas and water sectors owned their responsibility for strong governance, speaking to the need for “for strong and accountable institutional leadership”. And FinTech and ICT companies saw their role in SDG 16 as translated through access to connectivity, information and financial inclusion through new marketplaces and educational tools, especially for those who have historically been the poorest, most disadvantaged and farthest left behind.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: It was suggested that the government develop mechanisms to recognize and incentivize positive private sector participation in the 2030 Agenda, potentially via further alignment and integration with Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment and the NDP. As such, this calls for increased focus on demonstrating how companies can support SDG 16, including through the VNR, as linked to NDP and priorities.

Case Study: The UN Global Compact’s SDG 16 Business Framework | Inspiring Transformational Governance

To this end, the UN Global Compact’s SDG 16 Business Framework | Inspiring Transformational Governance approaches corporate reporting on SDG 16 as “a means of generating, and making available to stakeholders, information necessary to understand and mitigate risks and to capture opportunities. It is also a vehicle for transparency and a key means of holding businesses to account and, as such, is intrinsic to good corporate governance. Beyond the businesses themselves, expanded corporate reporting on SDG 16 would generate value for a range of stakeholders, including investors, government, and civil society.”

  • The Framework is a tool for businesses to embrace transformational governance by:
  • Deepening understanding of the targets of SDG 16,
  • Strengthening cross-functional engagement across these targets,
  • Encouraging businesses to assess where they are on the transformational governance journey and to identify opportunities for improvements, and
  • Incorporating into board and management oversight, values and culture, strategies, policies, operations and relationships.

SDG Corporate Tracker Colombia (SDG CT) | Department of Economic and Social Affairs (

Module 7: Engaging Academia, Research Institutions, the Media and Journalists

Case Study: Partnering on the VNR and SDG Country Reports, South African SDG Hub

The South African SDG Hub is a think tank at the University of Pretoria designed to connect South African policymakers with the relevant South African research related to the SDGs. In 2018, the Hub released a report on the challenges and opportunities related to SDG implementation in the country,including SDG 16. In 2019, the Hub released another report on aligning the SDGs, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and South Africa’s NDP, again including analysis of the role of SDG 16. In 2019, the Hub played a leading role in drafting South Africa’s first extensive SDG Country Report, which in turn fed into South Africa’s VNR. It continues in its partnership with the Presidency of South Africa today, supporting policy development and analysis around national priority issues. In supporting one of South Africa’s 2019 VNR Main Messages, focused on ensuring that South African citizens have access to government information, the Hub created and supports an online portal of open-access peer-review articles, tagged by SDG. Going forward, it will continue to make this platform more user-friendly and aims to invite researchers from South Africa’s 26 public universities to draft briefing notes and articles related to the SDGs.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with the South African SDG Hub.


Case Study: The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, Promoting a Human-Rights-Based Approach to SDG Implementation and Monitoring

As a follow-up to its first VNR presented in 2018, the Palestinian Government established National SDG Teams composed by representatives from different stakeholders groups. Each SDG Team coordinates with relevant actors in the field to, for example, conduct monitoring and reporting, provide recommendations and policy proposals and prepare interventions to promote the implementation of its respective Goal. It is a unique process, designed to pull together the capacities and expertise of all relevant actors in the country.

The Palestinian NHRI, namely the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), engages in the national SDG processes promoting a human rights-based approach to the implementation and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda. Among other things, the ICHR has developed a criterion to define marginalized areas in the country from a human rights perspective, contributing to the identification of groups that are being left behind. ICHR is also an active contributor to the National SDG Teams and engages as a permanent member of the National Team for SDG 16, led by the Ministry of Justice, since its launch in July 2018. In addition, ICHR is an observer in the Teams for Goals 1 (no poverty), 3 (good health and well-being), 8 (decent work) and 10 (reduced inequalities).

The SDG 16 team includes the Ministry of Justice, as well as the Ministries of Finance, Women’s Affairs, Social Development, Interior and Local Government; the police; eight human rights institutions including the NHRI; civil society  academia and media representatives; the General Personnel Council (civil servants); the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics; ; and oversight bodies.. After reviewing the data collection capacities of its members, the Team agreed on compiling data and information for 75 indicators in total (including global and national indicators) to provide for a comprehensive review of the SDG 16 targets. Based on the data provided by its members, the SDG 16 Team will prepare a report to the Prime Minister’s Office to assist in the preparation of future VNRs and provide evidence for policymaking to advance SDG 16 implementation in the country.

As a member of the SDG 16 Team and due to its unique mandate to monitor the human rights situation in the country, the ICHR is able to contribute data for 25 of the agreed indicators that are relevant to monitor SDG 16. Those include issues related to violence, access to justice and human rights defenders. The ICHR is also engaged in a MoU with the Palestinian Central Bureau for Statistics in which the institutions cooperate on, among other things, conducting a survey to monitor fundamental rights and freedoms, relevant for SDG 16.10.

Case Study: An Accountability Actor, The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, Ghana

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ or the Commission) is the Ghanaian NHRI. CHRAJ is a member of the multi-sectoral SDGs Implementation Coordination Committee (ICC) of Ghana, which comprises representatives of key ministries, public agencies and civil society organizations. The mandate of the ICC includes strengthening cross-sectoral coordination and multi-stakeholder partnerships in SDG implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting. For the preparation of Ghana 2019 VNR, the CHRAJ was formally requested by the SDG coordinating secretariat to provide information on its activities contributing to the SDGs, including on Goal 16. The Commission was also part of the Ghana official delegation to the HLPF that year.

In the follow-up to the VNR, the CHRAJ is playing a central role in improving accountability in the country, particularly in its capacity as the coordinating body for the National Anti-Corruption Plan. In this role, the Commission is convening a number of thematic international and national dialogues with relevance to advance issues related to SDG 16, such as promoting the relevance of linking human rights in anti-corruption efforts to, for example, strengthen institutions, ensure rule of law and access to justice, and design adequate policies for asset recovery and return.

Among other initiatives, the CHRAJ organized a national Conference on Anti-Corruption and Transparency, which gathered high-level officials (including Ghana’s Vice-President), key representatives from the governance and justice sectors, civil society, the UN and the private sector. Participants reviewed existing policies and strategies and agreed on measures to strengthen institutions involved in fighting corruption and ensuring transparency and accountability.

Further, in January 2020, the Commission organized a national forum involving key accountability institutions including the offices of the Attorney-General, Auditor-General and Special Prosecutor, as well as the Economic and Organized Crime Office, Narcotics Control Board, Police Service and others. The forum was meant to strengthen inter-institutional collaboration and information-sharing and led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among these actors to fulfill this purpose.


Case Study: SDG Corruption Monitoring Dashboards and Mainstreaming SDG 16, the Rwandan Experience

Starting in 2018, Transparency International (TI) Rwanda began to support national efforts to produce the country’s 2019 VNR. From the beginning, TI Rwanda was keen to emphasize the linkages between corruption and the SDGs and so produced a scoping study on the effect of corruption on national efforts to meet SDGs 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 13.

While corruption is relatively high on the national agenda, key SDG implementers in line ministries are not sufficiently sensitized to the risks that corruption poses to the country’s targets under the 2030 Agenda. To address this issue, TI developed a comprehensive approach intended to: (1) produce evidence that corruption hinders progress towards national development goals; (2) identify innovative mechanisms to mitigate corruption risks in SDG implementation; and (3) track the effectiveness of these measures over time jointly with SDG implementers.

The approach involves producing a one-page ‘dashboard’ that combines official and non-official data sources for each SDG relevant to TI Rwanda’s work. By consolidating various scattered datasets into one coherent framework, the dashboard provides a highly actionable roadmap to reduce corruption vulnerabilities in SDG implementation. The approach involves a three-step process intended to bring together the various data and expertise used by individual programmes into a single dashboard tailored to individual SDGs.

First, an initial corruption risk assessment is conducted in collaboration with sectoral experts to identify and prioritize the main risks at each stage of the SDG sectoral value chain, from the policymaking level to the point of service delivery. Once risks have been mapped for each SDG of interest, the second step is to launch consultations with government, businesspeople and affected communities to match each prioritized corruption risk to corresponding anti-corruption safeguards designed to mitigate that risk. The final stage involves producing a monitoring framework that pairs each anti-corruption safeguard identified to a combination of different indicators that consciously draw on a range of data sources to provide a holistic appraisal of the effectiveness of anti-corruption mechanisms in place.

Synthesizing this information into the dashboard’s monitoring framework allows SDG implementers to track whether their programmes are becoming more or less vulnerable to corruption, based on an overarching conceptual model that is sensitive to local context. While the tool is in the early stages of implementation, it is already clear that it lends itself to evidence-based advocacy, as it provides an at-a-glance understanding of the corruption risks that can undermine progress towards individual SDGs.

That each dashboard’s framework draws on different data providers, including government sources and third-party assessments as well as data produced by the organization itself, is a strength of the tool, as it allows for the verification, comparison and triangulation of the official narrative as told in the VNR. As such, it is clear that the country’s VNR is simply a first step in the process and that the official indicator set agreed upon by the IAEG must be complemented with more locally meaningful data to ensure transparency, accountability, and participation in the 2030 Agenda.

Take-aways and Going Forward: TI Rwanda believes that the tool could be further developed into a multi-partner project by which different organizations input different data, building on the monitoring processes of each. Ultimately, the tool could be transferred to impartial government agencies, such as NSOs, to institutionalize the monitoring of governance issues in SDG implementation. Another possibility involves modifying the dashboard to turn it into a tool for community action to help citizens hold local leaders accountable in reporting corruption incidences.

A key lesson has been the pivotal importance of outreach; early communication is needed to ensure that relevant stakeholders feel addressed and know that the tool is holding them to account for their performance on specific SDGs. So far, TI Rwanda has combined desk research with online expert surveys, followed up by workshops to assess the severity of risks identified. Hosting small multi-stakeholder workshops with experts from government, the private sector and civil society during the process of developing each SDG dashboard was beneficial. The reason for this is that involving partners at an early stage helped to nurture ownership and buy-in from government and non-government representatives, which also facilitates subsequent access to the data needed to monitor progress.

* An Example of a Country Score Card is included in the Appendix.

* This case study was provided by Transparency International Rwanda in 2019.

Case Study: Transparency International SDG 16 Spotlight Reporting: Tracking Global Progress Towards Anti-Corruption Targets

In 2017, Transparency International (TI) developed a common methodology to enable civil society organizations to track their countries’ progress towards four SDG 16 targets especially relevant for anti-corruption: 16.4 on illicit financial flows, 16.5 on corruption and bribery, 16.6 on accountable and transparent institutions and 16.10 on access to information and fundamental freedoms. Since then, over 45 of TI’s national chapters have used the tool to produce spotlight reports that provide independent appraisals of their governments’ anti-corruption efforts, which are essential to improve implementation of the 2030 Agenda across all SDGs.

Recognizing the lack of available data for the IAEG-SDG indicators, TI’s methodology intentionally deviates from the official indicator set, drawing on a wider range of alternative data sources to scrutinize the often-uncritical assessments of national progress presented in VNRs. Going beyond the narrow understanding of corruption captured by the official global indicators, TI’s spotlight reports provide a more holistic assessment of the underlying conditions and drivers of corruption at national level.

The overall aim has been to produce evidence to supplement the official government reports submitted as part of the VNR process. Looking at the quality of national legislative and institutional anti-corruption frameworks and their actual implementation, the tool is designed to enable chapters and other national stakeholders to develop actionable recommendations across a range of relevant policy areas, from anti-money laundering to whistleblowing. In this way, the approach seeks to embed cyclical VNR reporting into a longer process of iterative reform, generating data that can feed into governmental SDG reporting processes in each country.

An independent impact assessment of the tool conducted in 2019 revealed that, among other outcomes, TI’s spotlight reports influenced anti-corruption action taken by governments in Greece and Sri Lanka; informed anti-corruption action taken by international organizations in Togo; enabled TI to establish new partnerships with government agencies in Uganda; and led to a better understanding of national anti-corruption frameworks in Hungary. At national level, there has also been some on-the-ground coordination between TI chapters and other CSOs around VNRs and spotlight reporting.

For these spotlight reports to realize their true potential, however, VNR processes need to give due regard to civil society’s attempt to incorporate a wider range of indicators and data sources than those agreed upon by the IAEG-SDGs. Civil society’s efforts to provide a baseline assessment that can be used as a benchmark to monitor progress towards the 2030 targets should be welcomed by all governments genuinely committed to enhancing peace, justice and strong institutions.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: In many countries, the tool provided a valuable opportunity for civil society organizations to demonstrate their value as providers of actionable data that can help remedy vulnerabilities in a country’s anti-corruption framework. Framing the assessment as a contribution to national-level SDG implementation enabled them to engage the government through internationally recognized channels, particularly if findings were used to complement VNR reports.

While the bulk of the indicators can be answered through desk research, interviews proved useful in verifying findings and gleaning additional insights from public officials, elected representatives, civil society and private sector firms. Moreover, establishing a working rapport with interviewees in government provided TI chapters with ‘entry points’ to key institutions when it came to the dissemination of findings and advocating for the adoption of policy recommendations. However, given that the primary purpose of Spotlight Reports is to scrutinize government performance, there remains a need for distance and researchers have to be somewhat sceptical of their interlocutors’ assertions. Freedom-of-information requests have proven important in filling gaps where insufficient data is publicly available, not least as they can provide information about implementation and enforcement of anti-corruption measures, with unsatisfactory responses often constituting a finding in their own right.

* An example of a Country Score Card is included in the Appendix.

* This case study was provided by Transparency International in 2019.

Case Study: User-Friendly Portals and Inter-governmental Data Focal Points: Office for National Statistics (ONS), UK

The role of ONS is to provide UK data for the global SDG indicators; it is in this way that ONS supports the UK Government and non-government actions in their work implementing the SDGs. In line with the ethos of transparency and ‘accountable and inclusive institutions’, ONS UK publishes all of its SDG data on an open-source, reusable, customizable and user-friendly website developed specifically for this purpose. This sets a baseline for future reports, allowing us to see what progress has been made.

In supporting and streamlining the data collection process during the VNR process, ONS UK provided templates to other government departments to complete when compiling tables and charts to make quality assurance easier. ONS UK based these in part on the methodology requirements in the UN Statistics handbook on SDG indicators. Further, ‘check-in’ meetings (similar to ‘office hours’) were set for designated times and online chat functions were available for data focal points across government to ask questions. Overall, ONS UK worked with a number of stakeholders to promote the VNR and to recruit case studies and engage in the VNR process and produced a strongly data-led VNR.

Following publication, ONS UK worked with the lead policy team on VNR follow-up and review. This involved internal ‘wash-up’ meetings with statistical contacts and external ones with stakeholder groups. ONS UK continues to use the network of contacts built during the process to identify new data sources.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: Processes give all those involved in the preparation of the VNR the support they need. Quality review is also key, and, for follow-up, it is important to maintain a clear audit trail and to maintain the relationships/networks established for future action. The VNR provides a baseline so that future reports can focus on progress made since the first.

Guidelines on how to prepare a second VNR as a follow-up, rather than as a second, stand-alone report, would make it easier to measure progress more meaningfully over time. Further, more and better disaggregated data would enable policymakers and non-governmental decision makers to make better-informed decisions for a sustainable future.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with ONS, UK.


Case Study: Translating SDG 16 Commitments Through OGP and the Access to Justice Secretariat, Canada

Justice Canada has reiterated and reinforced its interest and commitment to SDG 16 through various means and mechanisms, as evidenced by its 2018 VNR, as a member of the Taskforce on Justice, and as a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP). In 2019 and under Canadian leadership while Canada was co-Chair of the OGP, the OGP Coalition on Justice was announced. By linking its commitments to justice, through both SDG 16 and the OGP, Justice Canada has been able to support justice-related policy change domestically and internationally.

In the fall of 2019, the Access to Justice Secretariat within Justice Canada was established to drive greater coherence, enable, and enrich partnerships within the government and with civil society and increase policy work on access to justice issues. For example, the Access to Justice Secretariat participates in a Government of Canada interdepartmental taskforce, which seeks to share information and engage with equity-seeking communities to ensure the federal response to COVID-19 is adapted where possible to the needs of these communities.

Recognizing that access to justice and open government are mutually supportive, Justice Canada has proposed that an Open Justice commitment be included in Canada’s upcoming National Action Plan on Open Government (NAP). The key principles of open justice – transparency, accountability, innovation, and partnership – are embedded throughout the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and SDG 16 specifically urges us to develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions at all levels. The NAP process brings with it a particularly useful engagement factor, a multi-stakeholder forum and an independent review mechanism that engages civil society. The OGP has been useful for alignment, particularly in terms of the Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and concrete resources to advance justice policy work.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: Given its commitment to access to justice, internationally and domestically, Justice Canada has been able to effectively bridge foreign and domestically focused justice work. While this new engagement strategy through the OGP NAP process has not yet been fully put in place due to delays related to COVID-19, it may inform how OGP NAP reporting can be more effectively applied to future VNRs.

* This case study draws from interviews with Open Government, Justice Canada, Government of Canada.

Case Study: Regional Organizations, VNR Processes and SDG 16, the Council of Europe

Rather than creating new activities, programs or projects, the Council of Europe (CoE) has framed and labeled its on-going work in SDG terms. As a regional organization of 47 member states founded on the principles of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, its reporting mechanisms and subject matter provide an opportunity for member states that are reporting on SDG 16 to pull from Council of Europe data and vice-versa. For example, and though not exhaustive, the following is a listing of conventions as related to SDG 16: the European Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data Framework, and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. (Conventions are legally binding treaties, if ratified, though with varying degrees of follow-up depending on the context).

To this end, and in reporting progress in adherence to a convention, the Council of Europe may then offer concrete recommendations through their advisory committees to one of its member states.

The CoE has created a website that provides key information for each SDG. Member States can use this information to illustrate that their participation in the CoE also contributes to national implementation of the relevant SDG and this can be referred to in the VNRs.

Take-Aways and Going Forward: While Member States themselves are primarily responsible for implementing the SDGs, the CoE, as an international organization, is there to assist and help facilitate the process.

* This case study draws from 2019 interviews with the Directorate of External Relations within the Council of Europe.


Case Study: Lessons Learned from Repeated VNRs, Colombia

Colombia has so far presented three VNRs: one in 2016, one in 2018 and one in 2021. The most important step after the 2016 VNR was for the government to initiate a multi-stakeholder process to develop the national SDG implementation strategy. This took more than one year of workshops to raise awareness and build capacity and of consultations and technical discussions with line ministries, local and regional governments and non-state actors.

A key motivation for Colombia to present a second VNR after only two years was to share its experience of the strategy process. Besides documenting central government action and achievements, the government also

highlighted the contributions of other actors. While not all of these are labeled as SDG initiatives, they significantly contribute to sustainable development. This meant approaching stakeholders in a different way,stipulating new types of cooperation with and among them, and appreciating all contributions.

With civil society, a mapping exercise with umbrella organizations provided an overview of who is doing what in the country. Public surveys, open for anyone to register projects, complemented the process and helped identify relevant initiatives. A series of regional workshops involved documenting what CSOs are doing and how. With the private sector, a pilot project to design indicators based on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards – developed with the support of the UNDP country office and the GRI, regional partners and sectoral associations – helped measure businesses’ contributions to the SDGs.

As a result, the 2018 VNR contains five stories about different stakeholders’ contributions to the SDGs. An important element in working with all those stakeholders was the web portal that Colombia developed with support from the Swedish Government and that became a key communication tool in the process. In the 2021 VNR Colombia introduced a robust methodology that was used to measure the contribution of the private sector to the achievement of the SDGs. Through the SDG Corporate Tracker platform, implementing partners have contributed more than 311 companies with information reports for 2018 and 2019.

The participatory strategy development and the 2018 and 2021 VNRs broadened public awareness, engaged civil society and the private sector in meaningful ways and strengthened local processes.  These processes also helped carry the vision and spirit of the 2030 Agenda through the transition after the 2018 presidential elections. The broad commitment fostered continuity and the SDGs provided a transcending element for the 2018–2022 National Development Plan.