Article by: Adriana Aralica, Policy and Information Officer, SLOGA – NGO Platform for Development, Global Education and Humanitarian Aid, Slovenia, Forus' member

According to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index, Slovenia ranks on the 12th position among 162 countries (compared to the 8th place among 157 countries in 2018), with best performance in eradicating extreme poverty and access to clean energy resources, and challenges in the field of measures aimed at eliminating hunger, ensuring sustainable production and consumption, as well as measures to combat the effects of climate change and conserving the sea and marine resources. Slovenia has been an official development assistance donor since 2004.

According to the Special Eurobarometer Nr. 494 (2019), 77% of Slovenes assesses the assistance to people in developing countries as important (EU28 average: 86%), while 74% agree that tackling poverty in developing countries is also in the EU’s own interest (EU28 average: 79%). In 2018, funds earmarked for international development cooperation amounted to EUR 70,76 million or 0.16% of gross national income (GNI). 65% of Slovenian development cooperation is allocated as multilateral development aid, and 35% as bilateral aid. Slovenian development NGOs assess that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is still not sufficiently embedded within various line ministries and NGOs, and 2030 Agenda issues are still addressed in silos-like manner, hence the project will contribute toward strengthening of multi-stakeholder and cross-sectorial partnerships for the Global Goals and thus to localization of the SDGs.  

With the support of Forus, SLOGA, the Slovenian development NGO Platform, implements a project aimed at enhanced civil society monitoring of the implementation of the SDGs. The main result will be drafting of an alternative or “spotlight” civil society report of the SDG implementation in Slovenia, timely drafted in the year when the Government of Slovenia will be presenting its second Voluntary National Review (2020).  

As a baseline activity, a background analysis and mapping of stakeholders has been implemented. While the background analysis provided an overview of the role of NGOs in relevant international development documents and an overview of selected NGO reports on the SDGs, it also provided background information on Slovenia’s implementation of the SDGs and relevant national policies (including the 2030 Development Strategy of Slovenia referring to the SDGs and its targets). The mapping of stakeholders included an overview of institutional stakeholders and civil society and interest grouping stakeholders.  

Based on the mapping, the working group of consultants contributing to the development of the alternative report methodology has been established. The working group brings together NGO representatives with strong references in advocacy, research, monitoring and civil society dialogue. During the meetings, the working group has discussed the structure of the alternative report, stakeholders to be engaged in drafting of the report, and further steps to be planned (advocacy and awareness-raising activities) upon finalization of the report. 

During both activities, the question whether to assume the whole-of-society or civil society approach arose. The 2030 Agenda encourages the whole-of-society approach in planning, implementation and monitoring of the SDGs, with a view to ensuring the overarching principles of universality and leaving no one behind do not remain a dead letter. Similarly, while the Voluntary National Reviews are a state-led process, the 2030 Agenda encourages multi-stakeholder collaboration. In the discussion about the stakeholder engagement in the alternative report process, the working group identified the governmental, but independent (monitoring) bodies (e.g. Human Rights Ombudsman, Advocate of the Principle of Equality, Commission for the Prevention of Corruption) and academia as important potential allies, especially from the viewpoint of strengthening the 2030 Agenda ownership on national level. While the working group has recognized the importance of the whole-of-society approach, we agreed to utilize the civil society approach and focus the report on the role of civil society in planning, implementation and monitoring of specific SDGs and its targets. In Slovenia, various so-called thematic NGO networks (i.e. networks bringing together NGOs working on specific themes, as SLOGA brings together NGOs working in international development cooperation, Global (Citizenship) Education and humanitarian aid) are active and have established regular coordination, hence those networks and NGO alliances are a valuable resource to utilize for stakeholder engagement and outreach activities in the process of drafting the report, to ensure a representativeness of issues addressed in the report. The current COVID-19 outbreak has on one hand pinpointed that international challenges do not obey national borders and thus have to be addressed through transnational, inclusive, multi-stakeholder partnerships, with full collaboration of all relevant actors, including the civil society; and on the other hand, it has further emphasized the need for strengthening global solidarity. Only broad civil society ownership of the SDGs will contribute to stronger monitoring capacities of NGOs, and to achieving sustainable development for all.