Second Generation Voluntary National Reviews

This analysis of Cepei seeks to contribute to the debate of good practices in the preparation of second and third Voluntary National Reviews, which countries present each year to the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

Javier Surasky

September 16, 2019

Find the main findings of the analysis and the reasons that motivated it, information on the review and monitoring scheme of the 2030 Agenda, an introduction to the Second Generation VNRs and 9 recommendations for its elaboration.

Not all second and third VNRs that are presented by countries to the HLPF can be considered second generation VNRs. The second generation reviews work from a dynamic perspective, presenting the continuity and evolution of the progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level, taking the first VNR presented by the country as a reference.

To this extent, a second review that only accounts for the current situation, as a first review would do, is not the same as a second generation review, which reports processes and cycles.

After carrying out an analysis of the second and third reports submitted by the countries before the United Nations High Level Political Forum between 2016 and 2019, Cepei identified areas in which it is necessary to work to strengthen the development of second generation VNRs, such as:

  • Cycle perspective
  • Process analysis
  • Identification of vulnerable groups
  • Coherence of information on progress, blockages and setbacks in the national implementation of the 2030 Agenda
  • Work outside watertight compartments
  • Opportunity to make presentations of reports and their democratization.

Therefore, with the aim of contributing to the discussions on best practices for the preparation of second and third Voluntary National Reviews, this work also presents 9 recommendations for their preparation, to ensure that they can be considered second generation VNRs:

1. The cycle perspective: It implies not only assuming that the review must be presented as a continuity of the previous one, tracing all the bridges that this expressly requires, but that it will be the starting point for future reports, so the implementation commitments that the Governments assume and the variables that will be used to measure their success should be clearly expressed. 

2. VNRs should inform processes: If the initial reports of each country fulfill their objective by showing the existing situation, the second generation reports must present advances, stagnations and setbacks with respect to the initial situation. 

3. Contexts change, vulnerable groups change. The work carried out by the States to achieve Sustainable Development within the framework of the 2030 Agenda produces changes in their societies. These changes could be in turn generating modifications with respect to the most vulnerable groups or those that are being left behind. Second generation VNRs should pay special attention and identify whether the processes that are carried out to achieve the SDGs produce changes in the most vulnerable groups or if as part of the implementation, there are new groups that are at risk of being left behind.

4. Democratization of the VNR: Second-generation VNRs should allow non-state actors to assume the drafting of short chapters in which they express their own opinion on the evolution of the implementation of the SDGs at the national level in the period between reports. It is not necessary for the government to “voice” the social actors, but simply to allow them to use the one they already have.


About the author

Javier Surasky

PhD in International Relations and International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, has taught courses in different postgraduate careers, including the Master’s Degree in International Relations and the Master’s Degree in Human Rights at the National University of La Plata (Argentina).