3 Introduction

Picture of Norwegian youth with SDG signs on a mountain top.

Photo: Norad

In 2016 Norway presented its first VNR to the UN. In the report, Norway elaborated on its commitment to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The report identified several challenges to implementation of the 2030 Agenda at the national level, across the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development.

In this second VNR, we provide an overview of Norway’s progress towards the SDGs since 2016. For the first time we have included two comprehensive assessments of all the 17 SDGs, one conducted by the Government and another by civil society. The assessments identify achievements and challenges affecting implementation. The review follows the UN voluntary common reporting guidelines for VNRs.

Including relevant stakeholders has been a priority throughout the VNR-process. Civil society, the industrial sector and businesses and the school and academic sectors, have made valuable contributions to this report. In addition, the governments of Denmark and Indonesia have reviewed the draft report.

This report highlights some key changes to national follow-up and implementation over the past year. The Government has reported on its progress for the SDGs to Parliament since 2016, in annual budget proposals and reports. However, in 2020 the Government took several steps to ensure a more holistic approach to sustainable development. As a result of this process, Norway will have its first National Action Plan for implementation of the SDGs in 2021.

This report pays special attention to the SDGs in Norwegian municipalities and regions. Local and regional authorities provide a broad range of services and are responsible for community development through strategic processes. They play a key role in achieving the SDGs. In addition, the UN has emphasised localising the 2030 Agenda, in order to ensure that no one is left behind. This review presents an overview of key findings from the Voluntary Subnational Review (VSR), which has been conducted by the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS) this year.

The Norwegian welfare society, which provides universal social benefits and has a strong focus on cooperation between employers, unions and government as well as civic inclusion, is key to achieving the SDGs at the national level. However, challenges remain, many of which are exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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