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Expert Insights: Enhancing Transparency and Collaboration in SDG Reporting




Shadow ReportVNR

In a recent online discussion titled “Learning from Previous Experiences” held as part of the “From Observers to Advocates” training series January 30th. SDG LENS was honored to hear from four experts who shared their experiences and recommendations regarding sustainable development reporting in their respective countries. 

Here’s a summary of the key points discussed:

EU Spotlight Report 2023:

Bernhard Zlanabitnig, representing the team European Green Deal behind the European civil society Spotlight review in 2023. The significance of this report is that it is the first supranational sustainability review. The report was structured around the 5 P’s – People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership. The most significant challenges the Bernhards team faced during the report’s development were the lack of transparency in the process and the lack of stakeholder engagement. Despite these issues, the report was commended for its attention to data quality, policy coherence, and efforts to address inequalities and resource management.

Lithuania’s SDG Progress:

Justina Kaluinate shed light on Lithuania’s journey in VNR preparation, comparing the processes in 2018 and 2023. In preparing for the VNR in 2018, civil society as consultants faced challenges such as the delayed start of work on the report and limited participation of civil society. However, significant improvements were noted in the preparation of the next report, including smoother preparation, increased transparency, and the involvement of external consulting firms. Justina emphasized the importance of building effective communication strategies with government representatives, especially on sensitive topics such as the impact of conflicts, especially the war in Ukraine or the situation of migrants in border areas.

Belarusian Civil Society Advocacy:

Iryna Ponedelnik, coordinator of the Belarusian Civil Society Report on Sustainable development goals implementation, shared information about civil society’s advocacy activities by focusing on the problems that emerged after the 2020 protests. The 2022 report was prepared by individual experts who remain anonymous. Despite government repression and limited dialog on important issues such as human rights and gender equality, civil society remains resilient. Iryna emphasized the need for careful advocacy considering the potential backlash from the Lukashenko regime.

Moldova’s Multi-Pronged Approach:

Natalia Corving discussed Moldova’s approach to sustainable development reporting, highlighting the government’s efforts to engage NGOs in VNR preparation. The creation of working groups and public consultations facilitated comprehensive reports. Natalia also highlighted successful advocacy efforts, particularly in the realm of water and sanitation, where recommendations from the Spotlight Report on the Implementation of SDG 6 were incorporated into national strategies. She stressed the importance of robust data selection and development for effective reporting.

The findings of this online discussion highlight the importance of transparency, collaboration, and strategic communication in the creation and presentation of sustainability reporting. They underscore the need for continuous improvement and advocacy of civil society demands at every level. We have a responsibility to heed these lessons to build a future in which sustainable development is not just a wish, but a realized norm in all sectors of society.

To learn more about the experts’ remarks and recommendations, please watch the recording of the event.

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SDG LENS. Monitoring Sustainable Development in Eastern Europe & South Caucasus is a capacity-building program for civic actors, representatives of NGOs and grassroots initiatives, researchers and experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

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