There is a need for global political leadership andfor global initiatives. We strongly believe that collaboration and joint action are critical for achieving the leadership the 2030 Agenda needs. It would demonstrate a commitment to the collaborative spirit which is the basis of the 2030 Agenda. We believe that an annual multi-stakeholder meeting involving governments, civil society, and the private sector from High-Level Group countries would be a good platform for exchange, stakeholder consultation and peer-learning, and an opportunity to share and reflect on progress regarding SDG implementation. We strongly believe that this will have a spill-over effect in the respective regions as
well as globally.
- The initiator of the High-Level Group should host a multi-stakeholder meeting with representatives from all nine countries. Ideally, successive meetings will rotate, covering the nine High-Level Group member states.
Vibrant And Independent Civil Society
The success of the 2030 Agenda lies in the involvement of all actors, from the initial planning stage and throughout the rest of the process.
The national case studies show that civil society participation varies across the nine countries. All countries have committed to engaging civil society in their work on the 2030 Agenda. The studies show that most countries have initiated dialogues, some already having formalised them, or at least introduced mechanisms for doing so. However, all countries must show that civil society participation will happen in practice. Others will have to increase their efforts to establish participatory mechanisms.
- Formalise stakeholder engagement and meaningfully involve stakeholders in established participation mechanisms to ensure the effective, inclusive and meaningful participation of all people, including civil society and other stakeholders, in the implementation and follow-up of the 2030 Agenda. To make this possible, governments must fully respect civil and political rights, including freedom of speech and assembly, media freedom, full transparency, and the right to access information.
National Implementation and Political Leadership
Most of the nine governments in the High-Level Group have been quite active in aligning existing policies and budgets with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and indicators. More work remains to be done, however, as most existing national policies are not ambitious or coherent enough to contribute to the full achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. So far, there seems to be a general focus in the nine countries on reducing poverty and promoting economic growth, and in some countries on basic environmental protection policies. The national case studies also reveal a lack of policy coherence for sustainable development and lack of global leadership.
- Make sure that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda is led at the highest possible level, and that a ‘whole of government’ approach is ensured, providing a clear allocation of responsibilities, a division of labour and a working system of checks and balances. The approach must ensure sufficient financial and human capacity to enable each sector to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. It must also offer opportunities for engagement and enable leadership at the sub-national level, and it should indicate a clear division of labour between the national and subnational levels.
- Align all policies to support SDG implementation, balancing the three dimensions of sustainable development. It is essential to put in place coordinating committees, at the level of both government and parliament, with a mandate to check all legislation and policies for their SDG compatibility.
Inclusive, Transparent and Comprehensive Follow-Up And Review
Without inclusive, transparent and comprehensive follow-up and review, and strong accountability frameworks, the 2030 Agenda is in danger of being nothing but an empty promise. Other key principles of the agenda are to ‘leave no one behind’, for the follow-up and review to be ‘open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people’, and for it to ‘support reporting by all relevant stakeholders’ (the 2030 Agenda, paragraph 74).
At the global level, the Voluntary National Reviews will be the main official tool for monitoring progress and reviewing the agenda, but these global reports will not be enough to ensure that the follow-up and review are regular, transparent and comprehensive. Of the members of the High-Level Group, Germany and Colombia volunteered to report to the 2016 High-Level Political Forum and Brazil and Sweden to the 2017 Forum.
Each country must make a commitment to going further than the global reporting requires them to. The case studies nevertheless show that none of the nine countries have set up national mechanisms for follow-up or review of the 2030 Agenda. High-Level Group members have a key role to play by showing their own commitment to making their national follow-up and reviews truly inclusive, transparent and comprehensive. They can also play a critical role in pushing for this at the regional and global levels.
- Put in place national institutional mechanisms that draw together and coordinate the three dimensions of sustainability, and that include representatives from government, civil society and other stakeholders.
- Create national parliamentary 2030 Agenda oversight committees, to ensure an effective checks and balances system, and hence stronger accountability mechanisms.
- In the spirit of ‘leaving no one behind’, the members of the High-Level Group should ensure that follow-up and review in their respective countries are open, inclusive, participatory and transparent for all people.