Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, to the 2021 high-level political forum on sustainable development’s first session of voluntary national review presentations, held today:
It is my pleasure to join you as the presentations of the 2021 voluntary national reviews begin. The [reviews] have become a centrepiece of the high-level political forum.
With 177 countries having presented at least one voluntary national review to date, they are a testament to the enduring commitment of national Governments to implement the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] and achieve our global goals.
This year, 42 countries will be presenting their voluntary national reviews. I commend each of you for doing so.
These reviews speak to the social and economic devastation wrought by the pandemic. They take a hard look at efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, alongside, or as part of, efforts to overcome the pandemic and address its impacts.
They show the diversity or measures taken to ensure social protection, health care, vaccination, economic recovery, food security, education, mental health, inclusion or employment. And they highlight the need for debt relief, disaster resilience, digitalization and systems approaches to overcome multiple challenges.
The experiences presented by the 42 countries will allow the high-level political forum to discuss the kind of recovery plans or strategies that can get countries on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. This may include integrating the Goals into national policy frameworks, budgets, stimulus packages, investments or evolving from emergency social protection measures towards inclusive social protection systems.
But, the voluntary national reviews are not simply a report or a presentation at the high-level political forum. They are a national process of in-depth review and consultation on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
We have seen countries use the preparations of their voluntary national review to strengthen their institutions or policies to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Some have consulted stakeholders and groups that were not previously engaged on national policies. Others have made new commitments or launched innovative initiatives to track their progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, or to increase transparency on their use of public resources.
The voluntary national reviews also often strengthen cooperation between ministries and statistical offices. Many countries have also become more ambitious and rigorous about their voluntary national reviews. This year, some [reviews] reflect independent analysis by specific institutions or stakeholders. A few build on voluntary local reviews.
I commend the more than 100 United Nations country teams that have already supported host countries in preparing voluntary national reviews, working in tandem with the reviews convened by [the Department of Economic and Social Affairs] each year. I would also like to commend the work of regional economic and social commissions for their support to voluntary national reviews.
Ultimately, voluntary national reviews create space for Governments and their partners to identify what is needed to keep the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The General Assembly, in its recent resolution on the high-level political forum, encourages countries to identify next steps and forward-looking accelerated actions in their voluntary national reviews. It is encouraging to see that this is already the case in a number of this year’s [reviews]. The “SDG Moment” that the Secretary-General will convene in September will provide a further opportunity in this direction.
In the coming weeks, we will work closely with delegations in New York to identify Heads of State and Government from voluntary national review-presenting countries that are eager to further elaborate on their plans, needs and priorities for the remainder of the Decade of Action.
United Nations country teams, under the leadership of resident coordinators, stand ready to support countries in this regard. As the General Assembly reviews the capacities and funding for the resident coordinator system in the coming weeks, we have an opportunity to ensure that we increase the share of assessed funding for the resident coordinator system and step up our support to sustainable development in this Decade of Action. This is an opportunity we simply cannot miss.
I look forward to your discussions this year, as you continue to enrich this forum with your contributions, experiences, ideas and dialogues.