Voluntary National Review: from Goals to Results

1 november 2019

Tatiana Radchenko, Deputy Head of the Analytical Center, told at the Strategists Forum in St. Petersburg what indicators are included in the Voluntary National Review on Sustainable Development Goals in Russia and how to measure them.

The expert reminded that the Analytical Center was instructed to organize work on the Voluntary National Review on Sustainable Development Goals in Russia. The work is being performed jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the Federal State Statistics Service and other interested Federal executive bodies. The Review will be presented at the UN Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York in summer 2020.

"While working on the Review, we decided to comply with the UN principle of leaving no one behind and involved the maximum number of experts from a wide range of organizations", Tatiana Radchenko told. "We have formed 17 work groups, one for each SDG, consisting of representatives not only of the authorities, but also of expert, academic, business communities and public associations – more than 200 people". Radchenko considered the work on the Review to be successful: 16 draft chapters have been prepared and 13 public discussions have been held by now.

Indicators are of paramount importance in the work on the Review, Radchenko emphasized. "It is the indicators that help to understand where we are, what we strive for and how we achieve our goals", the expert said.

The "starting point" indicators are data for 2017 and 2018 provided by the Federal State Statistics Service. Targets are indicators designed in National Projects, although their horizon is limited to 2024, while the Review on SDGs is aimed at 2030. Indicators of "achievement" still remain in the form of recommendations or suggestions how to measure the achievement of development goals. Experts of the Analytical Center suggest to rely on the international experience, adapting it to Russian realities.

For example, the OECD experience shows that if a country has not approved target values for indicators, then the following values may be used: absolute values recommended by the UN (for example, reducing the maternal mortality to less than 70 cases per 1,000 people), values of necessary changes of an indicator (for example, reducing poverty by half), values of indicators enshrined in international agreements (for example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement).

There are also indicators, which have no explicitly set values, but for which the best value for a group of countries can be used: for example, a goal is set to reach the world level of 2018 for a certain parameter by 2030, and then the degree of approximation to the set goal is estimated.

"There are also different approaches to measuring indicators", Radchenko noted. "For example, the EU uses the calculation of an average growth, and ASEAN countries use a more complex tool – a current state index and an expected progress index. More complex calculations make it possible to give recommendations regarding the public policy on groups of indicators that reflect the degree of achievement of each of the 17 goals".

Russia should submit two Voluntary National Reviews until 2030: the first one will be ready in 2020, and another one – until 2030, with refined measurement parameters that will help to understand how Russia approximated to the stated goals, what weak links are and what areas of the public policy need to be strengthened, Radchenko emphasized.