Shadow Reports on SDGs
Enabling civil societies to understand and develop independent monitoring, reporting and advocacy of the Agenda 2030
FAQ & Guidelines
“Not without us” is a slogan which underlines the engagement of the NGOs, young professionals and grass-roots initiatives in the Agenda 2030. Independent civil society reports, also known as Shadow Reports, parallel or spotlight reports, represent a central tool of monitoring and advocacy of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Why do we need Civil Society Reports?
Shadow reports are relevant when civil society organizations (CSOs) were not involved in the preparation of the Voluntary National Review (VNR) or when VNR does not reflect all national trends and does not highlight the problematic aspects of the implementation of the SDGs in the country. Governments are expected to take the lead in monitoring and reporting on the progress made towards each of the SDGs and their targets. CSOs should also be involved in this process as part of the formal monitoring process. Civil society reports are vital to provide independent, reliable and accurate assessment of the SDG progress within countries, and aim to keep governments accountable to their citizens. Civil society reports can also provide recommendations for the implementation of the SDGs at the national and local level and list the ways of cooperation between the state and civil society.

Follow the link to find examples of Civil Society Reports from all over the world released since 2016. Under the following links, please find first Shadow reports from Eastern Europe – on Russia (full report), Belarus (SDG 12) and Moldova (SDG 7 and SDG 13).
Who is involved in the monitoring and development of the reports?
These can be representatives of all parts of civil society, including NGOs, activists, small social businesses, academia, youth, seniors, rural populations, people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, trade unions, small farmers, LGBTQ+, religious and ethnic minorities and others who might be left behind in the “official” reporting process.
What belongs to the report?
Each chapter of the full reports or thematic reports focused on one of the Goals should include:
Achievements and trends since the beginning of 2016 or from the last National Report
Challenges that need to be addressed before 2030
Recommendations to the state from civil society for the implementation of this SDG
How civil society and ordinary citizens can help the state achieve this SDG
Civil Society Reports need to be prepared for decision makers as well as for wider audiences and to be concise in terms in order to deliver key findings and recommendations.
How can Civil Society Reports be prepared?
The best approach is when Civil Society Reports are prepared with wide open public participation from all over the country through (online) consultations and review processes. Below are approximate steps for the work on the Report:
Report can be presented at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development, High Level Political Forum through Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanisms and published at international civil society platforms such as Action for Sustainable Development.
6. Presentation to the International Community
Presentation of the primary results of the Report to the general public and governmental representatives
5. Issue of the Civil Society Report
Updated chapters should be presented for collecting final written comments especially to those who were not able to join the consultation process. Key contributions should be integrated into the chapters
4. Peer Review
Open announcement of the Civil Society Report preparation should be released and gathering key experts and organizations working on every SDGs should be organized
1. Launching the Process
Selected experts develop key points on positive achievements and trends, challenges and recommendations
2. Preparation of chapter drafts
In order to engage the general public and ensure wide participation in the development of the Report, (online) consultations should be held on the implementation of all the SDGs. Key contributions should be integrated into the chapters
3. (Online) consultations
Do you want to know more or need support in the development of the first Civil Society Report in your country?
Our projects are aimed at enabling civil societies to understand and develop independent monitoring, reporting and advocacy of the SDGs. Check examples of the shadow reports here or contact us via for further information and consultations.
TAP Network Spotlight Reporting Guidelines
Recognizing the critical importance of civil society “Spotlight Reports” and alternative instruments in the monitoring and review of progress on the SDGs, the TAP Network hopes to continue to support civil society in providing updated guidance on how to prepare a national-level Spotlight Report on SDG implementation. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reporting on the SDGs, this newly updated guidance aims to guide civil society stakeholders to reflect on their own national and local priorities, as well as the state of SDG implementation in their countries, with the aim of supporting robust and comparable civil society reporting.