In 2019, South Africa tracked its progress in implementing the global goals for the first time. The country’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) would not only be a turning point in South African reporting culture; it also paved the way towards institutionalised multi-stakeholder engagement for sustainable development.
The African Monitor Trust, a pan-African continental body committed to catalysing the commitment to SDG delivery, played a central part in this. Right from the start, it sought to ensure that the process of reviewing the 2030 Agenda implementation was inclusive and people-centred. To achieve this, it built trust and cooperation between dozens of civil society organisations and grassroots movements, attracted the media and called for the government’s attention. It was the first time that civil society was actively engaged in official national SDG activities.
The whole-of-society dialogue fostered by the country’s first VNR would later result in concrete mechanisms for multi-stakeholder engagement. The Open SDG Club South Africa ─ inspired by its eponymous counterpart in Berlin ─ brings together high-level structures of government and civil society every year to review challenges in SDG implementation and to issue policy recommendations to accelerate their achievement. In 2020, more than 200 representatives of civil society, labour movements, think tanks and the Parliament joined the Club’s symposium to discuss actions towards an inclusive and transformative recovery from the multidimensional effects of COVID-19.
To further institutionalise multi-stakeholder engagement, South Africans are now on the brink of establishing their National Development Stakeholders Forum (NDSF), a mission vigorously promoted by African Monitor. The NDSF will function as an SDG advisory body and thereby lend further impetus to a better recovery in line with the 2030 Agenda. These efforts have been supported by the German development cooperation through the 2030 Agenda Transformation Fund and currently also the Recover Better Support Fund.