Prioritising CSO capacity development for Agenda 2030 implementation

By Deirdre de Burca, Advocacy Coordinator Forus

The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) has established a process of voluntary national reviews (VNRs), which have become a tool for the review and implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs. Between the years 2016 and 2018, 111 VNRs were submitted by national governments to the HLPF and 48 more were submitted in 2019 . Since its inception, the HLPF peer review system has been used by governments as a means of monitoring their country’s progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda and its sustainable development goals, and of learning from the experiences and best practices shared by other governments.

In 2019 my organisation, Forus, did an analysis of the 111 VNRs submitted to the HLPF by governments in the years 2017 & 2018. Its objective was to determine how the Agenda 2030’s commitments on capacity development have been implemented by governments to date.

Our results showed that the capacity development of national stakeholders linked to the 2030 Agenda, and in particular civil society, is fragmented, irregular and in many cases does not appear to be taking place at all. Where it does, it is largely targeted at government officials and public sector servants, often as part of programmes provided by high income countries to developing and low-income countries.

The apparent failure of governments to live up to the clear commitments of Goal 17 of the agenda to provide for the capacity building of civil society and other stakeholders is difficult to comprehend. Properly designed and planned capacity development could greatly enhance the ability of different stakeholder groups to monitor and contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Based on its findings, Forus has developed a number of key policy recommendations targeted at the UN and its member states.

  1. The capacity development of different stakeholder groups linked the 2030 Agenda should be subject to a global, multi- level coordination system, involving civil society and other stakeholders.
  2. A systematic and objective identification of the 2030 Agenda capacity development needs of different stakeholder groups, including civil society, is required as a matter of urgency. Each stakeholder group should have the responsibility to objectively determine its own capacity development needs.
  3. A Global Fund should be created as part of the operationalization of Goal 17 to promote the capacity building and development of different stakeholder groups, including civil society, and these stakeholder groups should also be involved in the governance of the Fund
  4. Indicators should be developed which measure the extent to which the capacity development of civil society and other stakeholder groups has been enabled each year at national, regional and global levels and the financial resources that have been dedicated to these activities annually.

In conclusion, we invite SDG Watch Europe members to join us in advocating for these important policy changes to ensure the effective capacity development of civil society globally for Agenda 2030 implementation!

(For further information please see To read its analysis of the 2017 & 2018 VNRs please click on the following link: the capacity development of CSOs linked to SDG implementation.)

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