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The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework commits all UN member states to the achievement of 17 goals and 169 targets, spanning the three dimensions of economic, social and environmental development. Under this framework, each national government – as well as other stakeholders, including local governments, business and civil society – is expected to identify, implement and report on specific actions that lead to their achievement.

This paper considers the challenge of establishing a robust follow-up and review mechanism to support such implementation. The paper underscores the importance of the follow-up and review process taking place at three levels: national, regional, and global. We propose that the HLPF process be based on mutual accountability and peer review. To ensure the impartiality of the HLPF process, we recommend the creation of an Independent Expert Advisory Group, comprised of leading experts from outside of government. We also recommend an active, formalized role for civil society, academia and business, both in the submission of evidence and in the HLPF discussions.

This paper is part of the SDSN’s extensive work on framing, implementing, and monitoring the SDG agenda. Other relevant SDSN publications include Indicators and a Monitoring Framework for the SDGs, Data For Development, Principles for Framing Goals, Targets and Indicators, and our reports on global partnerships and financing for development.