18-19 October 2022

7th Workshop on Voluntary National Reviews

  • Beirut, Lebanon
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Since 2019, ESCWA, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and the League of Arab States have been organizing a series of regional workshops on Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs). The workshops provide a platform for knowledge exchange and peer learning on VNRs in the Arab region. This 7th Workshop takes stock of the experiences of Arab countries that presented VNRs in 2022 and informs the preparations of countries planning to undertake VNRs in 2023.

Private sector engagement in the 2030 Agenda is the thematic focus of this edition that highlights the important role of this sector as a development partner involved in the implementation, follow-up and review process.

More details are available in the information note.

Participation in this workshop is by invitation only.

Relevant material

General Assembly resolution A/70/1 – Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

General Assembly resolution A/70/684 – Critical milestones towards coherent, efficient, and inclusive follow-up and review at the global level

Handbook for the Preparation of Voluntary National Reviews, 2022 edition

Social Media


Outcome document

The key messages are available in Arabic.

The session facilitated an open peer exchange between Arab countries planning to submit a VNR in 2023/2024 and those that presented VNRs in 2022. Countries planning for a VNR in 2023/2024; namely Bahrain, Comoros, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Oman and Saudi Arabia, shared their workplans and highlighted areas of challenge. 2022 VNR countries; namely Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, Sudan and Somalia reflected on how they addressed challenges, highlighted new approaches and tools, and shared lessons learned.

The availability of accurate, timely and disaggregated SDG data is a critical pre-requisite for good VNRs. This session provided participants with an update on the support ESCWA offers on SDG data and planned support for the future. It included a presentation on statistical guidelines, tools, platforms and projects that ESCWA is leading.

The session discussed the interplay between business companies’ success and the achievement of the SDGs. It considered opportunities in the region for creating ‘shared value’ – where pursuing financial success also yields societal benefits and advances development outcomes. It also highlighted the role of business associations in mobilizing the private sector around the SDGs.

The session discussed the extent to which the private sector contributes to national SDG planning and follow-up and review, particularly the VNR process. The engagement of the diverse private sector in the VNR process varies across countries of the region in terms of level of input, the engagement mechanism, and the impact thereof. The session presented preliminary results of ESCWA’s research on engagement of the private sector in the 2030 Agenda and VNR process in the Arab region. It also featured examples of different forms of engagement, from the region and beyond; particularly from Italy, Sri Lanka and Lebanon.

This session looked at the issue of reporting by the private sector on their contributions to the SDGs, both positive and negative, and the standards that guarantee transparency, comparability and accountability. The UN Global Compact presented the new reporting guidelines (Communication on Progress) and highlighted the work of selected local networks.

The usefulness of these reports, as well as collective reporting on the private sector carried out by government and non-government entities, to VNRs was discussed. Examples from Egypt and Sudan of how private sector contributions were captured in VNRs were showcased with a view to identifying challenges and good practice in that respect.

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