In 2015, governments of the world committed to a ground-breaking approach to sustainable development that recognised the transformative potential of connecting social, environmental and economic goals. Now more than two years into the implementation of this agenda, how far have governments actually moved in ensuring these aspirations are achieved?

As we approach the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) 2018, we have been working together with key partners from across civil society to set out key recommendations learnt from the HLPF 2017 on delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); identifying what has been working and where the gaps remain to ensure that this agenda genuinely does support meaningful opportunities for all people to shape a fairer and cleaner future for our planet.

The new report Progressing National SDG Implementation is the second of a SDG governance and delivery series, and it analyses all of the 42 English, French and Spanish VNR reports submitted in 2017 to the HLPF, as well as a sample of civil society reports produced alongside the official reports. We have identified some key themes that we believe are essential to guarantee effective implementation. We hope these are helpful in building knowledge ahead of the HLPF in July this year and subsequent reviews in 2019 and 2020.

In terms of national implementation of the Agenda, it seems that the initial phase of understanding how the SDGs fit with existing policies has, for the most part, been carried out; but we are now at a critical juncture where governments need to go further to guarantee real transformation. In our report we set out a few areas where we believe the implementation process can go further, these include: a) Ensure a holistic approach, whereby the interlinkages between and across the SDGs can be better understood and where delivery is not contradictory; b) invest in data disaggregation to more clearly identify implementation and better target resources; c) improve localisation of the Agenda to the sub-national level to include specific ways for local government to contribute to national reporting; d) develop improved partnership working with civil society and other stakeholders, particularly at the local level; and e) provide a specific section on Leave No One Behind which sets out targeted support to marginalised communities.

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