Sustainable Development Goals Scotland
Scotland's VNR Group

Network update: Voluntary National Review

By Network Coordinator, Paul Bradley. Originally sent via SDG Network’s forum. 

Scotland’s SDG Network has almost hit 200 members! Numbers do not mean much, but it does feel like a solid footing to move us into 2019 and begin engaging with the National Review on SDG progress and discussions about network structures. I’m quite excited, especially given the engagement and developments we’ve seen since we published our open letter in January.

UK VNR – Where are we?

As a full member of the UN, the UK is responsible for submitting its Voluntary National Review to the UN in July 2019. The UK Government is currently working with devolved administrations to agree on how they will contribute to the overall VNR. In summary, we are very much waiting for confirmation on what UK Government is asking of devolved administrations to then be able to seek your input into a Scottish engagement approach. I am in regular contact with colleagues in Wales, too.

What is the Network doing?

I’d like to thank those in the Network who have given up quite a significant amount of time to step up to the Network’s open VNR Working Group to help guide civil society engagement with the process, including our kick off stakeholder event in October.

We’ve had a few meetings (agendas and notes here – may be a bit behind uploading), but there’s still a lot of uncertainty around what UK Government are seeking in terms of contributions from devolved nations. There should be an update closer to Christmas, and I’m hoping the VNR Working Group (which includes Scottish Government) can provide a fuller update next week in terms of next steps from a devolved point of view.

In setting up an open working group, we will be trialing and testing some different approaches to how we involve those beyond a specific group. We will be learning along the way, and we’re currently making some small tweaks to the group’s Terms of Reference. We will be seeking your feedback on these next week (although the draft is already available). Once ready, they’ll set the tone for future work.

Scotland’s approach

What we have been able to focus on is principles around developing an official Scottish contribution, including how that process can be open, inclusive and participatory. Also, how any information and data gathered is publicly available to allow civil society to use this information to publish its own commentary alongside working in partnership with the Scottish Government to ensure a successful official review.

Also, the Scottish Government have secured the services of Dr Graham Long and his team at Newcastle University to conduct baseline assessment work, which will provide an overview of achievements against the SDG indicators and Goals as well as the delivery infrastructure and existing levers in Scotland. This work will form the starting point of any Scottish review and will be available to civil society. I will follow up on the forum with more detailed information about this and seek your input on behalf of Graham.

I hope this update is helpful. Again, thanks to members giving up their time to guide us through and to the Scottish Government for continued engagement and looking at how we build our partnership practices.

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