Results from a recent IPU study show that 58 per cent of parliaments were involved to varying degrees in assessing national progress towards the UN global goals this year, compared with 38 per cent in 2019.
Every year, countries sign up to the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), a UN process through which countries assess and present progress made in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In parallel, the IPU surveys the corresponding parliaments to assess the extent of their oversight of this process.
This year, 26 national parliaments from the 47 countries submitting VNRs responded to the IPU survey.
When asked whether they had provided input into the VNR submitted to the High-Level Political Forum, the main UN body for follow-up of the global goals, just over half the respondents replied positively (14 parliaments). Nineteen parliaments said that their government had informed them of the VNR process.
However, the report also shows there is still progress to be made in engaging parliaments in the process.
For example, only half the respondents (13 parliaments) had received a consultation plan explaining the objectives of the review process, with a timeline detailing stages such as collecting data, consultations with stakeholders and reviewing findings. A consultation plan enables parliaments to provide better quality input.
Only three parliaments out of the 26 surveyed reported being involved in all stages of the review process. Five parliaments had held committee hearings, and three were able to use independent sources (such as reports from leading civil society organizations) to scrutinize more carefully government-led reviews.
As the IPU report notes, parliaments’ participation in the VNR process depends to a large extent on governments’ willingness to reach out to their legislative bodies.
A detailed review of the findings from this year’s survey will take place at the next session of the IPU Committee on UN Affairs in Spring 2021. By that time, a new survey cycle will have started for the countries presenting progress reports to the UN.