For the first time since the inception of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, Tanzania reported the progress of SDGs implementation in 2019. This was a landmark milestone in the history of the country in which not so many UN member states had conducted such an important national-led process by that time. Globally, this process is convened under the authority of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and presented at the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) annually since 2016.   

Every member state is voluntarily required to report on the progress that it made on the implementation of SDGs from local, regional to national level, involving stakeholders such as the Government, civil society organizations, media, local governments, private sector, UN agencies, development partners, Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), community based organizations (CBOs), etc. The voluntary national reviews (VNRs) aim to facilitate the sharing of experiences, including successes, challenges and lessons learned, with a view of accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The VNRs also seek to strengthen policies and institutions of governments and to mobilize multi-stakeholder support and partnerships for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In Tanzania, this process is coordinated by the Government through the Ministry of Finance and Planning (MoFP). The Ministry of Finance and Planning (MoFP) is the custodian of the national plans and budget which are important tools for the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

In regard to the principle of inclusivity while preparing the Voluntary National Review, civil society organizations working towards the achievement of fulfilling the SDGs are coordinated through the Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform. which was established in 2015 and is convened by UNA Tanzania and Africa Philanthropic Foundation (APF). The platform operates according to the National Coordination Framework for the Implementation, Monitoring and Reporting of SDGs (NCF-SDGs), which aims at facilitating smooth, efficient and effective coordination of the implementation, monitoring and reporting of the SDGs and other international and regional development commitments.

Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform self-organizes, coordinates and documents CSOs’ contributions towards the implementation, follow up and monitoring of the SDGs. The platform is part of the Africa Civil Society Working Group (AWG). Members of Tanzania National CSOs Platform on Sustainable Development consist of diverse civil society organizations from grassroots organizations to international non-governmental organizations and representing different constituencies seeking to contribute meaningfully towards the implementation and follow-up and review of sustainable development in Tanzania.

In 2019, the Platform conducted national CSOs consultations which led to Tanzania´s first CSOs VNR report and CSOs contribution into the national VNR report. At that time, the national review indicated that of the 17 Goals, the United Republic of Tanzania was doing reasonably well in addressing eight goals (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 16). With commensurate domestic partnerships, efforts and international support, four goals (7, 9, 11, 12) were expected to be achieved by the target year 2030. Five goals (1, 13, 14, 15, 17) were considered to need extra efforts to be achieved. 

In March 2022, Tanzania was accepted by the UN ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) to submit its second VNR report to the High Level Political Forum in July 2023. The Ministry of Finance and Planning therefore informed the Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform to start the national CSOs VNR consultations.

The 2023 Voluntary National Review marks the second time that Tanzania is reporting the progress of SDGs at the High Level Political Forum (the first time being 2019). This year’s theme is “Accelerating the recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels.” All goals will be under review with a special focus on SDG 6 (water and sanitation), 7 (Clean Energy), 9 (Industrialization, Infrastructure and Innovation), 11 (Sustainable Cities), and 17 (Partnership for the Goals). As stated previously, the Ministry of Finance and Planning started the national process by sharing the roadmap for 2023 VNR, in particular the timeframe for stakeholders consultations. There on, The Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform commenced the 2023 national CSOs VNR consultations. 

However, before commencing national consultations, Tanzania Sustainable Development Platform conducted a series of preparatory VNR multi stakeholder workshops aimed at receiving feedback, experiences, and lessons learned on the implementation of SDGs, Analyzing progress, achievements and critical success factors to attain the sustainable development including best practices by CSOs, Discussing challenges and gaps in implementation and any new and emerging issues concerning SDGs implementation in Tanzania. Moreover, through the platform’s consultations, CSOs had an opportunity to identify ways and techniques on how marginalized and vulnerable groups would be involved in the 2023 VNR processes, created a CSOs data collection tool and an improved 2023 CSOs VNR report structure. One of the outcomes was a national CSOs VNR roadmap to lead the process in the country.

“During the last quarter of 2022 until March 2023, the platform started national consultations which have already involved more than 2,720 civil societies,  community based organizations, local groups and faith based organizations from 6 zones of the country at all levels from village, ward, district, region and national level which is a major improvement from the 2019 VNR report where only 500 CSOs were reached. The CSOs involved are working in diverse sectors such as agriculture, water, climate, gender, education, energy, mining, peace, justice, infrastructures, innovation, industrialization, economics development and health” (Reynald Maeda, UNA Tanzania’s Executive Director and co-convener of the platform)

Reynald Maeda presenting a brief of the VNR process during the People Living with Disabilities consultation

During the consultations, thematic leads led sessions for specific goals. For example, Hakielimu led Goal 4 (Quality Education), Forum for Climate Change led Goal 13 (Climate Change), TGNP led Goal 5 (Gender Equality and Women Empowerment), Policy Forum led Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goal), HAKI RASILIMALI led Goal 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and THDRC led Goal 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) to mention a few.

Since the fundamental principle governing the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development; “Leave no one Behind” calls for inclusiveness in the implementation, monitoring and reporting of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Governments and other stakeholders are obligated to respect this principle by ensuring that marginalized and vulnerable groups such as women, youth, people with disabilities, children  and others are actively engaged towards attaining these global goals.

In ensuring that the principle of ‘Leave No One Behind’ is realized, the Platform organized Leave No One Behind (LNOB) Hearings aimed at amplifying the voices of vulnerable groups in the VNR process in Tanzania. Thematic leads led sessions for specific groups as well. To cite a few, Save The Children led consultations for children, UNESCO Tanzania led consultations for media and UNOHCHR supported consultations for PWDs. This ensured that the VNR process was inclusive, captured their specific needs and that the needs were integrated into the CSOs VNR Report as well as the national VNR report 2023.

The Voluntary National Review Report provides a range of opportunities to stakeholders working toward SDGs implementation, monitoring and reporting. These include CSOs 2023 VNR Shadow Report (which will be used as an advocacy tool), participation in regional and global forums such as Africa Regional Forum on SDGs and High Level Political Forum respectively. These platforms offer Side Events, VNR Labs, Special Events, and Exhibition in which CSOs discuss their progress, challenges, lessons learnt, best practices and experiences on SDGs. Further, VNR is a platform where CSOs can form new partnerships, networks, and alliances necessary for SDGs implementation, monitoring and reporting.