Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) are part of the follow-up and review mechanisms of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. This is done to encourage member states to conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels. The VNRs aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view to accelerating the implementation of the 2030 agenda. These reviews also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilise multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
VNRs are assessed based on three criteria viz. transparency, accountability and effectiveness. Through participating in the VNR process, government of a country wants to uphold its development efforts transparently to its citizens and to the global observants. As the preparation for the VNR is a participatory process, the government also goes through an accountability procedure, both nationally and globally. Finally, to meet the effectiveness criteria, countries must take note of feedback for carrying out midcourse corrections and moving forward. As of yet, these three criteria have not been maintained stringently and major global criticism remains regarding the VNR process – there is no follow-up and review process post presentation.