On Tuesday, 3 October, an event was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on “Achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Exchange of Experiences and Best Practices,” ahead of Greece’s participation, with a Voluntary National Review (VNR), in the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) at the United Nations (New York, July 2018).
This Event was organized by YDAS-3 Directorate of Geographical Policy and Strategic Coordination, with the aim of facilitating the exchange of experiences of EU MS and Mediterranean countries that have already conducted VNRs in the framework of the HLPFs of 2016 or 2017. Participants included representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus and the Czech Republic, foreign diplomatic missions (of Albania, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain), as well as representatives of Ministries, Independent Authorities and other agencies in Greece (e.g. Hellenic Statistical Authority/ELSTAT, Regulatory Authority for Energy, Economic and Social Committee, Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility/CSR Hellas, Sustainable Development Council/SEV etc.).
In her welcome address, the Head of YDAS-3 Directorate, Ms. Eleni Nikolaidou, stressed the importance that Greece attaches to SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Institutions and made a reference to the successful organization, by the Greek MFA, of the two Rhodes Informal Ministerial Meetings (in 2016 and 2017) for peace, security and stability and of the International Conference (in 2015) for Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East.
The presentations that followed emphasized, inter alia, the importance of: (i) the inter-ministerial coordination, also through the appointment of “focal points” in the various Ministries, with a view to formulating national priorities (General Secretariat of the Government, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Portugal), (ii) a focus on environmental governance and on the promotion of sustainable production and consumption patterns (Ministry of the Environment and Energy, Denmark, Estonia, Morocco and Turkey), (iii) the adoption of a “participatory approach” with regard to VNR preparations (General Secretariat of the Government, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Jordan and the Netherlands), (iv) a VNR focus also on “weaknesses” of the country examined, alongside any achievements (Cyprus, Estonia and Czech Republic) and (v) ensuring data availability for SDGs implementation and informing the relevant indicators (Cyprus, Jordan, Morocco and the Netherlands).
Practical tips for a successful VNR according to presentations would refer, for example, to using the relevant UN guidelines (Cyprus) and to communicating the SDGs, e.g. through the appointment of eminent persons as “SDG Ambassadors” (Czech Republic), the organization of relevant workshops (Portugal) etc.