By the end of May this year the Government of Georgia (GoG) published the draft report on Voluntary National Review (VNR) of Georgia 2020. VNR was finalized on June 12th, 2020 after which it was sent to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. The document reviews the existing state of SDGs implementation in Georgia. It is planned that VNR will be presented at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in July this year.
It should be noted that the SDGs Council provided the working group members with the information on the VNR preparation only after the initial version of the report was already drafted. IDFI prepared comments on the VNR and sent them to the Council. However, we have not received any feedback regarding our comments. Instead, we were informed that “the majority of the comments and opinions received by the SDGs Council were when possible reflected in VNR”. Dwelling from the fact that the initial and the final versions of the report are nearly identical, it is not clear whether any of our comments were reflected in the report. As an alternative, the comments are not included as annexes to VNR either.
IDFI was referring to the lack of regulations in the process of preparing and reviewing VNR at the beginning of the year when the GoG adopted new Rules of Operation of the SDGs Council. IDFI expressed the concern that the lack of regulations could have resulted in a low level of stakeholders’ involvement in the process.
GoG presented the first VNR report at the HLPF in 2016. The report included information on the initial steps taken by the country and highlighted existing needs in such direction as institutional setup, in-depth evaluation of existing state, the involvement of the wider society in the process, etc. VNR 2020 includes information on the progress of SDGs nationalization since 2016.
IDFI submitted its comments on VNR 2020 on a number of topics covered by the report, which also constitute the main direction of our work. Namely, IDFI provided the SDGs Council with its opinions on the following topics:
- Institutional Setup of SDGs and Awareness-Rising
- Linkages of SDGs with other Policy Documents
- Public Participation in Policy Development
- Justice System
- Fighting Against Corruption
IDFI finds that today, when the progress of SDGs implementation is slow on a global scale, it is crucial to fully realize the importance of already existing platforms such as the Open Governance Partnership (OGP). Georgia should take more initiatives to reflect specific challenges linked with SDGs in the OGP strategy and action plans. At the same time, the authorities should internalize the role of civil society organizations in the implementation process of the SDGs and ensure close cooperation with them based on multi-sectoral initiatives.
Even though the new Rules of Operation introduced a number of positive changes, concerns remain regarding the transparency and accountability of the Council activities. In addition, it is highly important that the rules reflect the priority of close cooperation with the private sector in the process of SDGsimplementation.
The lack of political will to engage relevant stakeholders in the process of SDGs nationalization has materialized in the situation when during the 2019 no working group meeting has been organized. This is particularly problematic as compared to 2018 when all working group meetings were duly organized with the participation of all relevant stakeholders and the minutes of the meetings were publicly available for anyone interested.
Moreover, in order to evaluate the genuine level of SDGs integration in national policy documents, it is vital to conduct the evaluation on the level of SDGs' target indicators.
In regards to the judiciary system in Georgia, regardless of significant reforms implemented in this direction during the last years, the state still needs to address the problems endangering the availability of independent, efficient and unbiased judiciary in the county.
More robust measures should be taken in the direction of fighting against corruption. The recent trend when the state of fighting against corruption in Georgia has been worsening should immediately be addressed.
Effective implementation of SDGs in Georgia will be impossible in the situation when the relevant emphasis is not made on the importance of cooperation with the wider public, as well as publicity and awareness rising on SDGs. Moreover, no significant progress is plausible in the direction of peace, justice and strong institutions, unless the challenges in the direction of the judiciary and fighting against corruption are fully internalized and duly addressed by the state.
This material has been financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. Responsibility for the content rests entirely with the creator. Sida does not necessarily share the expressed views and interpretations.
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