HLPF 2019 - Four years on, VNR processes are still not fully opened to CSO’s participation

Julius Cainglet from FFW, took the floor in the plenary session that analysed four years of VNRs to note that three principles should characterise the VNR process, those of transparency, consultation and social dialogue. Find his speech below:

We believe that three principles should characterise the VNR process. First is Transparency: data and information relating to SDG indicators should be freely shared to the public, while also considering alternative sources of information that come from the people, from community-based and participatory research, and direct testaments of what people see and feel on the ground.

Second is Consultation. Government should not be satisfied looking at and using figures alone, which may easily be manipulated any way. The true test of the impact of interventions, if any, are in what basic sectors and the marginalized have to say; and in their eyes and their faces for the things they cannot say. Too little consultations involving too few groups are never enough. Government can’t choose a few to talk to, who say only nice and rosy things. Workers and trade unions for instance, have been left behind and outside of VNR processes in many countries.

Third, Social Dialogue as a multi-stakeholder consultation and partnership tool has to be utilized. Government, workers and employers as co-equal partners, sitting together, discussing, even co-implementing, monitoring and evaluating SDGs make for a good review and monitoring body.

But social dialogue does not exist in many countries. Governments need to recognize freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively as prescribed by ILO Conventions 87 and 98. Trade unions and CSOs who have built their capacity will fuel effective social dialogue.This can even facilitate a process where Trade Unions themselves and CSOs can set up an independent review of SDGs.

We have not had enough time for interaction about the reports here at the HLPF. The limited time seems reflective of what happens in VNR processes in many countries and regions. Thus, reforms on how we do VNR are in order. This is a key ingredient for overall HLPF reforms. We hope that the next SDG reviews would facilitate democratic ownerships of both the VNR process and the implementation of SDGs.

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