Voluntary National Review (VNR) is part of the formal intergovernmental follow-up and review process on the Agenda 2030 which is presented at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This process is voluntary, state-led, country driven, undertaken by both developed and developing countries. It is a platform for partnerships, including participation of major groups and other stakeholders. 

The voluntary national reviews (VNRs) aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

It represents a country’s progress report to its peers and other stakeholders at the global level on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 at national and sub-national levels. Its preparation process needs to follow a time-line that enables the country to present to the HLPF taking place in July of each year since 2016. Each year, HLPF reviews different sets of Goals with different themes, however, Goal No. 17 (Partnership for the Goals) is reviewed every year due to its essence in the attainment of other goals.   

As of 13 September 2022, 48 countries and the European Union have expressed interest in presenting their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in July 2023. In East Africa, Kenya and Uganda would present their third VNRs.

The 2023 Voluntary National Review marks a second time that Tanzania is reporting the progress of SDGs at HLPF (the first time being 2019). This year’s theme is “Accelerating the recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.” Goals which will be under review are SDG 6 (water and sanitation), 7(Clean Energy), 9(Industrialization, Infrastructure and Innovation), 11 (Sustainable Cities), and 17 (Partnership for the Goals).

In Tanzania, CSOs VNR process is led by the Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform which is convened by UNA Tanzania and Africa Philanthropic Foundation (APF) since its establishment in 2015. The Government through the National Coordination Framework for the Implementation, Monitoring and Reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals (NCF-SDGs) mandated the Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform to coordinate civil society on SDGs related aspects. The overall objective of the NCF-SDGs is to facilitate smooth, efficient and effective coordination of the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the SDGs and the other international and regional development commitments.

Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform is a voluntary and open platform for civil society organizations in Tanzania to come together, self-organize and self-coordinate to ensure their meaningful participation and contribution towards the implementation, follow-up and monitoring of Sustainable Development in Tanzania. The platform is part of the Africa Civil Society Working Group (AWG). Members of Tanzania National CSOs Platform on Sustainable Development consist of diverse civil society organizations from grassroots organizations to international non-governmental organizations and representing different constituencies seeking to contribute meaningfully towards the implementation and follow-up and review of sustainable development in Tanzania.

Before commencing national consultations, Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform conducted series of preparatory VNR multi stakeholder workshops aimed at getting feedback, experiences, and lessons learned on the implementation of sustainable development in Tanzania since 2030 Agenda was launched, Analyzing progress, achievements and critical success factors to attain the sustainable development including best practices by CSOs, Discussing challenges and gaps in implementation and any new and emerging issues concerning sustainable development implementation in Tanzania. However, CSOs had an opportunity to identify ways and techniques on how marginalized and vulnerable groups would be involved in the 2023 VNR processes, created a CSOs data collection tool and 2023 VNR CSOs report structure.

In the last quarter of 2022 to date, Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform started national consultations which have already involved more than 300 civil societies from 7 zones of the country at all levels from village, ward, district, region and national level. Some of these regions included Mtwara, Mwanza, Arusha, Dodoma, Lindi, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Shinyanga, Singida, Morogoro, Manyara, Iringa, Pwani and Kigoma. 

Civil Society Organizations that were  involved are working in different sectors such as agriculture, water, climate, gender, education, energy, mining, peace, justice, infrastructures, innovation, industrialization, economic and health. At consultation level, thematic leads of the Platform led specific goals workshops in terms of collecting data and information of the progress of the particular goal and showcase their contribution in implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

In ensuring the principle of Leave No One Behind principle is realized we are now looking forward to conduct the Leave No One Behind hearings which will focus to all the groups that are vulnerable and likely to be left behind in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals these groups will involve women, children, youth, people with disability, people living with HIV, farmers, Media and KVPs. These hearings will form the last chapter of the report (Leave No One Behind Chapter) and showcase on how these groups have been involved in the implementation of SDGs and recommend what could be done best to make sure no one is left behind.

Civil Society Organizations through the Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform are expected to contribute and share inputs  to the national report in March 2023 which would be derived from the conducted consultations. However,  there will be a compilation of filled templates from CSOs, report writing session, validation of the report, debriefing session and report launching before July 2023. In the High Level Political Forum (HLPF), CSOs representative will be able to further discuss the effective and inclusive recovery measures to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and explore actionable policy guidance for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at all levels.

The Voluntary National Review Report provides a range of opportunities to stakeholders working toward SDGs implementation, monitoring and reporting. These include CSOs 2023 VNR Shadow Report (which will be used as an advocacy tool), participation in regional and global forums such as Africa Regional Forum on SDGs and High Level Political Forum respectively. These platforms offer Side Events, VNR Labs, Special Events, and Exhibition in which CSOs discuss their progress, challenges, lessons learnt, best practices and experiences on SDGs. Further, VNR is a platform where CSOs can form new partnerships, networks, and alliances necessary for SDGs implementation, monitoring and reporting.


What has been done so far towards 2023 VNR?

  • There have been series of multi-stakeholders dialogues in 2022 which brought CSOs together to discuss  processes, plans, modality and tools that will be  used to prepare the CSOs Shadow Report
  • CSOs VNR Consultations have been conducted  to provide data and information on specific Goal progress on all the 17 goals  through consultation tools. This process has reached more than 300 CSOs across the country. 
  • Formulation of the National CSOs VNR Roadmap which provides for step by step guidance on how CSOs could engage in the process to come up with a meaningful CSOs VNR 2023 report.

What Goals do CSOs think they lag  behind?

After reviewing the goals during consultations CSOs identified the following goals to be lagging behind which are Goal 9 (Industry , Innovation and Infrastructures, Goal 10 (Reduced Inequality), Goal 12 (Responsible Productiona and consumption) Goal 13 (Climate Action), Goal 14 (Life below water) , Goal 15 (Life on Land)

What are the key challenges during VNR Consultations?

  • Availability of data: This includes updated data from the last VNR in 2019 and disaggregated data which match with indicators.
  • Some of CSOs still cannot integrate their work in correlation with Sustainable Development Goals, which brings difficulties in capturing relevant informations. 

What has been done from the 2019 VNR report?

Formulation of National Coordination Framework for Implementation, Monitoring and Reporting of SDGs 2020: This is to facilitate smooth, efficient and effective coordination of the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the SDGs and the other international and regional development commitments.

Introduction of Re-entry to pregnant girls: in 2021, Tanzanian Government through the minister of education, science and technology announced that primary and secondary school students who will cancel their studies due to various reasons including getting pregnant and other family challenges will be given the opportunity to continue with studies. Since 2017, Human rights campaigners accused Tanzania of this discrimination provision after Magufuli in 2017 endorsed the expulsion of pregnant girls from state schools and their prevention from returning to class after giving birth, a policy dating back to 1961. 

What are youth needs that they wish to see in the VNR report?

  • Conducive Business and Investment Environment e.g shortening of cumbersome procedures when establishing business (bureaucratic process) etc. 
  • Financial Inclusion including provision of soft loans 
  • Digital Economy particularly digital skills provision 
  • Space for/in Decision Making processes 
  • Skills Development: This area includes programs and strategies aimed at developing the knowledge and skills of human resources in the country, from pre-primary to tertiary levels including enabling young people to become self-employed. 

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