22 March - 12 May 2017, Geneva, Switzerland – Following the successful launch last December, the joint UNITAR-UNDESA e-learning course on “Strengthening Stakeholder Engagement for the Implementation and Review of the 2030 Agenda” was rolled out for the second time in spring 2017. This new edition has helped to strengthen the capacities of 57 government officials to apply inclusive approaches, map key stakeholders and design national stakeholder engagement strategies as they « localize » the 2030 Agenda and prepare voluntary national reviews (VNRs). Since December 2016, a total of 22 countries presenting their VNRs in 2017 and 2018 have benefitted from the course.
Participation is one of the key features of the 2030 Agenda as it can make the voices of the most vulnerable populations heard. It is also crucial to the shared ownership of the SDGs and to ensuring that all stakeholders are engaged and work towards their implementation. In this context, Governments are expected to roll out effective stakeholder engagement strategies that help raise awareness, strengthen capacities and ensure there is meaningful engagement from early on. The preparation of the first Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) in the context of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is a good opportunity for UN Member States to engage with key stakeholders and enable them to contribute from the beginning of the process as Governments mainstream the SDGs into national strategies and policies and adjust institutional arrangements. 22 countries delivered their VNRs in 2016, and 44 more are preparing to do so at the 2017 HLPF session.
While only government officials from the 2017 VNR countries were invited to the first edition of the joint UNITAR-UNDESA course, the second edition was open to government officials from all UN Member States. As a result, 57 government officials from 32 UN Member States followed the course, many of them being in charge or directly involved in ensuring stakeholder engagement as part of the mainstreaming and review of the SDGs. This course is part of the larger capacity building initiative “SD2015: Delivering on the Promise of the SDGs” implemented by UNDESA with support from the European Commission.
The course consists of three online modules and is complemented by webinars providing course participants with a unique opportunity to learn directly from government officials from the former VNR countries and UN Secretariat representatives. During the spring edition, a total of three webinars was held. The aim of the first webinar introduced in response to requests from the 2016 course participants was to provide a general overview of the HLPF and VNR process. It featured an expert from UNDESA and the representatives of Switzerland and Norway who were directly involved in the preparation of their countries’ VNRs in 2016. The second webinar tackled specifically national stakeholder engagement processes, and Uganda and Sierra Leone were invited to share their 2016 VNR experience. Finally, the last webinar provided space for course participants to present their stakeholder mapping and engagement strategies developed as part of the course activities. It featured presentations by course participants from Jamaica (2018 VNR country) and Zimbabwe (2017 VNR country) who had an opportunity to share their strategies and receive feedback from the previous course presenters from Jordan, their course peers and UNDESA team.
The course received favorable reviews. All respondents of the evaluation survey felt that the information presented in the course was as up to date as possible and that their awareness on the subject matter had increased. Given continuous demand, UNITAR and UNDESA plan to run the course for the third time in fall 2017. Invitation letters and a call for nominations will be issued to UN Member States several weeks in advance.
UNITAR Capacity for the 2030 Agenda: https://www.unitar.org/sustainable-development-goals/accelerating-sdg-implementation
High-Level Political Forum on sustainable Development: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/hlpf