Toggle menu
Toggle personal menu
Not logged in
Your IP address will be publicly visible if you make any edits.

2019 VNR Process

From Open Government Pioneer Project

Instructions for contributors

I have uploaded the latest version of the correspondence that we are looking to send to DfID before the end of August. This is based on Lewis’ first draft and contributions from those at the meeting.

Anyone can edit this draft on the wiki, so I’d encourage you to make any suggestions and edits directly to the draft by Tuesday 28th August.

Please also add your name to the page so we have a full list of contributors and co-signatories.

We will share a revised version with you once more on Wednesday before sending out.

Draft correspondence Briefing Note

This note was developed collaboratively by members of Scotland’s SDG Network which includes over 130 members.

The UK Government's commitment to undertaking a Voluntary National Review in 2019 of the UK's progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals is a key milestone in its delivery of the SDGs, and Scotland's SDG Network - a coalition of people and organisations committed to building awareness and engagement across Scottish society - wants to work with you and other stakeholders to achieve a fully national and ambitious review.

Scotland's SDG Network is a partnership that links third sector organisations, communities, academics, government and business representatives to create a space to share lessons, resources and ideas regarding the SDGs. From the development of a national website for the SDGs to a special pop-up exhibition and the inception of Scotland’s SDG Network, our organisations have worked to mobilise people in Scotland around the SDGs since their adoption. We have worked closely with the Scottish Government through the alignment of its National Performance Framework (NPF) with the SDGs, and now look to work with both the UK and Scottish Governments on this upcoming review.

Scotland's SDG Network recognise that this is the UK's first Voluntary National Review on the SDGs and that the UK Government has set itself a tight timeframe to deliver this review; it is vital that the UK Government begins its engagement with civil society and business in the best possible way as we look to build on this partnership throughout future National Reviews. National Governments working in partnership with civil society during the VNR process are championed at UN High Level Political Forums and the UK Government should be setting firm foundations and aiming high with its first National Review.

Following the first stakeholder meeting with the UK Government on the UK VNR engagement process on 31st July, Scotland’s SDG Network has put together the following points for the Government to consider, with specific focus on engagement with Scotland, both in terms of devolved government and civil society. We have also approached DfID to meet in person in September to build on these initial communications, and our members would welcome the opportunity to host the team on a visit to Scotland during the VNR engagement process to hear more on the UK Government's plans.

  • Approach: In order for the VNR to be useful it must be “self-critical and honest”. There must be co-creation with all stakeholders, including devolved nations, businesses and civil society, and the UKSSD’s “Measuring Up” report is a great starting point for the UK VNR. An inclusive and participative process is all the more necessary with the High Level Political Forum 2019 addressing the theme 'Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality.’
  • A focus on co-creation: This must mean more than stakeholders giving feedback on a draft through a consultation after the bulk of the document has already been written. In other words, co-creation means input by stakeholders from the outset of the writing process. Scotland's SDG Network are happy to support and advise on the UK Government's undertaking of face to face meetings in Scotland and the promotion of an online process for engaging the public and other stakeholders.
  • Devolved Government coordination: Work should be undertaken in an open and transparent way with the respective SDG leads in the Scottish Government and other devolved nations to ensure implementation plans across the UK are as consistent and as comparable as possible. A transparent approach is required throughout the reporting and monitoring process and will help secure further input beyond the 'usual suspects.'
  • Framework: The VNR should cover all goals and all targets, and each chapter of the VNR should make reference to devolved nations, both in terms of civil society and devolved governments. An annex with reference to devolved nations would not be sufficient, and would stifle opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning.
  • SDGs in focus: The High Level Political Forum 2019 will conduct an in-depth review of SDG 4 (quality education), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions), in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals) which is reviewed each year. Where engagement events take place on specific Goals, these could be run in parallel in Scotland and Scottish networks should be notified of events in England.
  • Measurement: Close attention should be given to the National Performance Framework (NPF) in Scotland, and the Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 in Wales, which are examples of best practice in aligning national reporting mechanisms to the SDGs. Devolved policy areas – such as education – and data collected at sub-national level should be considered and included.
  • Public engagement: Engaging devolved and regional stakeholders is critical, and as lead authors of this report, DfID should hold stakeholder engagement events early in the process in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, as well as offer opportunities for representatives to join further meetings in London as and when they happen. Real stories and visual representations of the progress the UK is making are required for the report, and the UK Government should look to Ireland for examples of how best to represent the impact of SDGs delivery on day-to-day life.
  • Openness: In the spirit of the UK Government's commitment to open government and the Open Government Partnership, we would like to see a clear and transparent timeline and process set out so we can share this with our members and stakeholders to increase participation in the VNR.
  • National Implementation Plan: The UK Government currently do not have an implementation plan for delivering the SDGs. Those Governments that are leading the way on the SDGs - such as Ireland - have clear implementation plans outlining how stakeholders will play a collaborative role with Government. We support calls that an implementation plan is developed at the same time as the VNR.

The SDGs are a call to action on the most serious and challenging issues facing our society and environment throughout the next decade. We hope that you will be able to meet with us in early September to discuss the role of Scottish civil society in more detail and invite you to respond with the action points your Government will take to make sure this is a fully national and ambitious review.

We will publish the response on our website, The purpose of collating this information is to inform the direction of activities in Scotland and the decisions the Network and its members will take to compliment the UK's 2019 Voluntary National Review and our engagement with the global Action for Sustainable Development.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact our Network Coordinator: Paul Bradley......

We thank you in advance for your support and look forward to working with you.



  • Ruchir Shah (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations)
  • Ben Twist (Creative Carbon Scotland)
  • Rebecca Petford (Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges - Scotland)
  • Megan McHaney (IDEAS - International Development Education Association Scotland)
  • Catherine Gee (Keep Scotland Beautiful)
  • Fran van Dijk (One Stone Advisors)

Notes from SDG Network Meeting - 17th August 2018

Friday 17th August 2018

3pm – 4pm Online via Zoom
Participants: Paul Bradley (SCVO), Dorothea Christiana (UN House Scotland), May East (Gaia Education), Lewis Ryder-Jones (Scotland’s International Development Alliance), Megan McHaney (Bridge 47, IDEAS), Jill Matthews (self-employed), Fran Van Dijk, Josephine Querido (Keep Scotland Beautiful) , Jacob Ellis (Future Generations)
3:00 – 3:05 Welcome from the chair and introductions (Paul, SCVO)

Network meetings had cooled off over the summer months as a result of holidays and poor time of year to engage. However, lots of conversations have taken place with civil society organisations across the UK, the Scottish Government and events have been planned for August/September/October.

Thanked Lewis, Megan and others for sharing information on intensions of UK Government. Noted a key strength of network is to collaborate and open up conversation for more people to get involved and hoped this would continue.

3:05 – 3:10 Overview of Voluntary National Reviews & reflections from recent UN High Level Political Forum (Megan, Bridge 47)

Megan McHaney attended the first half of this year’s High Level Political Forum at the UN in New York.

·       Voluntary National Reviews take two days out of the ten

·       Week before they are presented, there are Voluntary National Review Labs and every country presenting a VNR can meet with their Member State delegations and civil society representatives

·       Formula is quite specific – each country gets a certain amount of time presenting on its VNR and then a number of questions can be asked

·       A global civil society group can ask questions on the behalf of national civil society organisations when civil society is not present, or when there is limited relationship between Government and civil society on the SDGs.

·       UN does not publish civil society shadow reports – these are published by Action for Sustainable Development.

·       High Level Political Forum also focus in more detail on 4/5 SDGs each year and this rotates.

3:10 – 3:25 1.    Summary of UK Government’s plans for 2019 review (Lewis Ryder-Jones, Scotland’s International Development Alliance)

Lewis provided an update on communications with DfiD and UK Government’s intensions for the UK Voluntary National Review in 2019:

·       Meeting was announced a week before it was held – oversight of Scotland and devolved nations’ involvement and too late for Wales’ involvement.

·       Lead DfID team sits under Neil Briscoe and 3 team members have been committed to work on on the VNR.

·       Those in attendance were mostly from BOND’s SDG Group, UN Global Compact and UKSSD. They discussed their experience of attending the High Level Political Forum and how the UK’s report should look

·       Timelines are very tight – first draft of UK Government’s report will be produced before the end of this year and consultation is expected from January 2019. Guests noted that for this to be a national review there needs to be co-creation from the outset.

·       DfID seemed open to conversation about improvements and there was a willingness to take this on board. They will be asking ‘how do we do this?’

·       Onus on us and groups in London to continue this conversation – UKSSD and SDG Network will write to them.

·       Details of the ideas raised have been circulated on basecamp.

3:20 – 3:45 Writing to UK Govt – what should the Network say? (Discussion)

·       Recognise that this is a process that will be built on over time. This is the first Voluntary National Review, and there will likely be 3 more between now and 2030. The timeframe is short so this is about starting off in the most appropriate way.

·       It may be the case that Scotland and Wales will produce their own reports that will then feed into the UK Government’s report. The Network will need to engage with Scottish Government to understand approach – it would be good to have an idea by the next Network meeting on 17th September.

·       We should avoid an annex for devolved nations and Scotland, Wales and Norther Ireland should feature in the main report, even if Scotland has its own complementary report.

·       Important to know that there is a direct line of conversation between Scottish Government and DfiD – they may want our support but they are already talking. Communication should keep flowing in an open and transparent way.

·       NPF is a big success in Scotland and sets foundations. We need to work with Scottish Government to close the feedback loop and ensure the revised NPF has impact.

·       Possibility of a note to DfiD signed by Scottish Government and Network, but this could cause problems with differing views over time. We are close to the Scottish Government but CSOs have different roles. We have to comment and feedback on both Scotland’s and UK response and should not feel so aligned with the Scottish Government. Role with Scottish Government needs to be decided in the next conversation with Head of Performance.

·       From a strategic point of view, Scottish civil society is more likely to be included if done via Scottish Government and have their approval. It will be seen in Wales as an opportunity to work in collaboration with Government. 

·       Real stories and visual representations are needed for the report. Lived experiences seem to be left out of many VNRS – process driven applications and data collected by ONS. Story telling element is needed, as is happening in Ireland. Need to focus on ‘Leave no-one behind.’

·       Continue close relationship with Scottish Government and find out how they are working with DfID. There is a need to keep a line between us so that Scottish civil society can comment on Scottish Government’s reporting.  to keep a line between us though, in the case we must take a different approach and line.

·       Invite DfID staff to Scotland – conduct a meeting when they have the skeleton available to inform us on what they are planning, as they did with London stakeholders

·       Leaning towards working with ScotGov and feed into this, but we may want to have our own route to talking to DfiD. Review may zoom in on key SDGs next year – will there be specific leads or DfID workshops on these areas? If so, they should run in parallel in Scotland and Wales.

·       UK Government not thinking about this until Brexit. Countries working in partnership with civil society were looked upon more favourably at recent High Level Political Forum. Language and terminology is important.

·       Will we spread effort across all SDGs? If we focus on some, we will miss some out, but then if we focus on all that will spread our efforts thinly. Need discussions in the network about this.

·       What would we also like to see happening. Process brings renewed opportunity for Scottish Government to build on launch pad set up. What will happen on the ground. How can we anchor all this frameworks into the reality and Scottish society.

·       Use the forum to share more information. Keep sharing so we are not falling behind where we’re at in the process. The challenges – challenging us to think about impact and we need that conversation to continue.

3:45 – 3:55 Exploring next steps and timeframes (Dorothea Vincent – UN House Scotland and discussion)

·       DfID to produce draft between now and December

·       DfID to consult from January

·       DfID to share final report in June

·       SDG Network Meeting – 17th September

·       Letter/email to DfID by end of August

·       Scottish Government response by 17th September

3:55 – 4:00 UK Parliament Environment Audit Committee’s SDG Consultation – summary and Network response (Discussion)

This item was not discussed

Other points:

·       Same concerns in Wales – have devolved nations been forgotten once again?

·       Discussions underway with Welsh Government and separate meetings with DfiD on involvement

·       Unclear if DfID wants devolved nations to have separate reports (Welsh Government like this approach as Wales have a lot to offer and DfID will want to pick and choose content)

·       Office for National Statistics (ONS) a key partner as they will be looking at data – two teams with 10 staff each.

·       Roughly 50-80 indicators are missing data to measure the impact

·       ONS has a reporting platform on website and you can see where there is data. Concern with this is that data is inconsistent across the UK.

·       DfID have not taken SDGs seriously until Brexit. Could this be about looking good on an international stage?

·       We should aim to be more united across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

·       Ultimately no guarantee that anything will come of a review but it does allow us to hold government to account on progress. Gives us a platform to challenge government on progress. It won’t immediately lead to change, but keen on initial engagement with DfID as devolved nations are often left out.

·       SDGs is a nonbinding voluntary accord with the UN. Countries have volunteered and VNR will be happening every year. The UK will come up at least twice or three times more, so not having all the indicators is okay at the beginning of the 15 years.

·       Need perspective that it is an ongoing process and not just a one off.

·       In our group, we should have civil society organisations focusing on the five SDGs that will be the focus.

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.