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.