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Voluntary National Review 2021

Watch video of panel where the VNR was presented

Voluntary National Review 2021: Progress on Sustainable Development Goals, 2017-2021

In 2021, Denmark presents the second Voluntary National Review. Globally, Denmark is at the forefront of sustainable development according to the SDSN and has successfully implemented numerous Sustainable Development Goals, but there are still important challenges to face. Further action is needed.

The VNR is coordinated by the Ministry of Finance and prepared by combined work of all ministries and stakeholders in the Danish society. A significant improvement of the second VNR relates to the inclusion of two inde-pendent assessments of the progress on each SDG by government officials as well as civil society actors. It also includes uncensored chapters written by actors of the parliament, civil society, the private sector, organizations, academic institu-tions, municipalities, and regions. Another new element of the VNR is a peer review process with Norway.

The review also builds on newly established institutional mechanisms and research. In 2018, Statistics Den-mark launched a unique statistical database that allows for monitoring of the development of the SDGs. This work pro-vides a necessary tool for the follow-up of the assessments.

According to the assessment of the government, Denmark is in a strong position in relation to many SDGs, especially in terms of health and well-being, education, sustainable energy, peace, justice and strong institutions. Den-mark’s key challenges relate to responsible consumption and production as well as climate action, and further attention is needed to improve life in the ocean and life on land. As a nation with an ambitious green agenda, Denmark feels signifi-cantly responsible contributing to the green transition as well as assuming global responsibility and collaborate on long-term sustainable solutions with other countries.

Recovery from COVID-19

The foundation of the Danish Recovery and Resilience Plan is to utilize the need to stimulate the economy to sup-port and frontload investments in the green transition.

While the funds will help stimulate the economy and support jobs and companies in the short run, they will also contribute to speeding up the green transition in the medium to long run. This effort is crucial to meet Denmark’s ambitious climate target of lowering greenhouse gas emissions in Denmark by 70 per cent in 2030.

Leaving No One Behind

The SDGs are not fulfilled until they are fulfilled for everyone. While the Danish welfare state constitutes a good starting point for equal opportunities, some vulnerable groups are still subject to discrimination and less able or even unable to participate in society.

While the agenda is receiving increasing attention, more remains to be done. The Danish government is working actively with the agenda, where initiatives include, but are not limited to, improvement of labor market conditions for vulnerable groups, due diligence, and LGBTI rights. Denmark is committed to not only include, but also empower. An example of this approach is the initiative “Children First”, which seeks to ensure better conditions for equal opportunities in childhood.

Engagement and Commitment

The VNR is based on two fundamental principles of transparency and involvement, which is reflected in the scope of stakeholder engagement. The VNR demonstrates how civil society, the private sector, organizations, academic institutions, municipalities, and regions continue to integrate the SDGs into their core strategies.

The SDGs are increasingly anchored among actors in society, of whom the government has received knowledge, inspirational material, and valuable recommendations for the preparations of the new national Action Plan and the VNR as well as specific input for policy initiatives. Several meetings, hearings, and conferences have provided platforms for necessary mutual exchange and increased awareness.

The Next Step is Further Action

Denmark is currently working on new policy initiatives in a new national Action Plan, which will be launched in the coming months. The 2022 progress report will review the progress on each national goal following the Action Plan. Both large and small steps have been taken, and these will be followed by even more in the coming years, where the gov-ernment continues to integrate sustainability in political initiatives, and stakeholders in society continue to contribute on all levels. A significant example is the decision to conduct a screening process of all legislative proposals with respect to their impact in terms of the 2030 Agenda.

Voluntary National Review 2017
Government follow-up on the Sustainable Development Goals

National Follow-up

Denmark shares the vision of our world and planet in 2030 as expressed by the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Danish gov-ernment is committed to an ambitious follow-up in the national as well as interna-tional setting. It acknowledges the interdependent and holistic nature of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. The government also emphasizes the need for all actors across society to contribute to achieving the SDGs. Denmark is a frontrunner in sustainable development with a universal health care and educational system, gender equality, a generous social safety net, cooperation among social partners, responsible business, clean and efficient energy produc-tion, personal freedom and more. It reflects a long standing Danish tradition of pursuing solutions that are sustainable in the long run.

National Action Plan for the SDGs

The Danish government has, in accordance with the 2030 Agenda, formulated the Action Plan in light of the need to adapt targets to national circumstances. The Action Plan is centered on the 5 P’s of prosperity, people, planet, peace and part-nerships. For each of these – except partnerships which are cross cutting – the government has formulated a number of targets (37 in total). They reflect the government’s wish to prioritize building on existing positions of strength as well as on areas where improvement is needed. Each target has one or two national indicators, which are in large part measurable and quantifiable, as shown in table 1. Table 1 Examples of national targets and indicators P Targets National indicator(s) Prosperity Strengthen research and ensuring solutions are marketable. Public funding for research at 1 percent of GDP. People Strengthen gender equality between boys and girls in education by reduced gender differences in well being and grades. a. Boys’ and girls’ grade point average in public school. b. Results of the National Survey on Well Being. Planet Sustainable food. a. Household food waste. b. Ressource productivity in the food sector. Peace Maintain Denmark’s position among least corrupt countries in the world. Transparency International ranking.

The government already assesses the economic, environmental and gender conse-quences of new legislation. As part of the Action Plan the government will hence-forth also assess the consequences of new legislation and major initiatives for the SDGs, when considered relevant in a Danish context and where the impact is significant.

The government will present an annual progress report on the Action Plan to Parliament as well as a quadrennial status report on the Action Plan to be dis-cussed in Parliament. The Danish statistical bureau will produce a yearly statistical report to be sent to the UN as an input to the global progress report.


The Danish government is committed to developing and strengthening partner-ships as an essential part of the achievement of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. The government acknowledges and welcomes the effort of other actors in society in contributing to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. The government and its re-spective ministers are continually looking to engage with other actors. The gov-ernment is reflecting on possible modalities for a partnership platform in Den-mark.

Division of responsibilities

The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the coordination of the national im-plementation of the SDGs. The policy expertise, however, are placed in the line ministries who are responsible for designing policies with attention to the SDGs, when relevant. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the EU follow-up in order to maintain a holistic approach and create linkages to the national follow-up. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for the SDGs in the context of the United Nations and other international fora. The Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign Affairs maintain a close coordination of efforts.

Next Steps

The Danish government will focus on the implementation and follow up of the 37 targets set forth in the Action Plan. The government will continue work on assessing new legislation on the SDGs and reflect further on a partnership plat-form. The government will also launch reflection work on the progress report on the Action Plan to be presented in 2018 for the first time.

Global Engagement

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs shape Denmark’s global engagement, and Denmark’s foreign, trade and security policy contribute directly and indirectly to achieving the SDGs. The SDGs constitute the platform for Danish development cooperation and humanitarian action as reflected in the new strategy, “The World 2030”. Different SDGs are prioritised in different country contexts. At the same time Denmark acknowledges that the SDGs are interdependent.

Denmark has since 1978 provided more than 0,7 percent of GNI in development assistance and hence lived up to the United Nations target, which continues to be a priority for the Danish government. Page 3 of 4

Annex 1. Civil society, business, municipalities, youth, academics

Civil society

Members of the civil society platforms the Danish 92 Group and Global Focus;

  • Have been following the development of the SDGs closely for several years and are highly engaged and committed to the implementation of the goals in Denmark and globally. The SDGs are integrated in strategies and work plans of Danish CSOs and in their activities nationally and globally, including national awareness raising and work with different stakeholders.
  • Have dedicated themselves – and will contribute further – to the SDG mobilization among stakeholders in relation to policy coordination, policy recommendations and multi-stakeholder dialogue. Danish CSOs were the main driver behind the first multi-stakeholder meeting in Denmark.
  • Will continue to follow the Danish government’s delivery on its commitments towards the SDGs in Denmark closely and in Denmark’s foreign diplomatic, policy and financial engagements, including ongoing advocacy for increased ambitions in the Danish Action Plan.


The Danish business community welcomes and supports the SDGs. We will;

  • Contribute by playing our part in achieving the goals.
  • Seek opportunities for business growth both nationally and internationally.
  • Include the goals in business priorities and business development.
  • Communicate our progress and share learnings when feasible.
  • Collaborate in partnerships with stakeholders to achieve sustainable solutions.
  • Recommend the Danish Government to support responsible business and awareness about SDG’s.


Regions and municipalities are responsible for delivering the vast majority of all public services in Denmark. Spending around 70 pct. of Denmark’s public budget, regions and municipalities are essential partners to achieve the UN Sustainable Devel-opment Goals for 2030. Danish municipalities and regions hold key roles, as;

  • Public authorities in the fields of social services, education, health, environment and technology.
  • Administrators of essential physical infrastructure and utilities as well as climate measures (CO2-reduction and adapta-tion).
  • Central facilitators of partnerships and of development and growth – both in civil society and in businesses.
  • Developers and administrators of much of the data that can be used as indicators for achieving the SDGs.
  • A link between the local and the global – from citizen involvement to international development collaborations


  • State of youth in civil society: Danish youth organisations and CSOs working with youth enjoy an enabling space and good structural conditions, as well as a long tradition of civil involvement. This results in a wide range of activities for youth and a relatively high degree of involvement, political participation, and influence. However, there are still pro-spects in securing the full inclusion of vulnerable and marginalized youth.
  • SDG-awareness and implementation: There is relatively high awareness among Danish youth on the SDG-agenda and youth CSOs are increasingly promoting and working with the agenda. The strategic framework can be strengthened by additions to school curricula, and there remains untapped potential within the youth sector for implementing and incor-porating the agenda into their organisational activities.
  • Monitoring and coordination: A comprehensive mechanism has yet to be developed for monitoring youth progress on the SDG agenda nationally and for coordinating efforts between youth actors within the framework of Agenda 2030.

Academic institutions

  • Pursue research and capacity development going beyond 'silo' thinking and focus on the links and synergies between the SDG goals and targets.
  • Study the trend towards rising inequality and the extent to which current policies exacerbate it.
  • Analyze how the SDG targets, deadlines, and a gap analysis could better inform Danish SDG implementation.
Focal point
UPF – Development Policy and Financing
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Denmark* is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
Caribbean Energy Efficiency Lighting Project

The Caribbean Energy Efficiency Lighting Project (CEELP) sought to catalyze the transition to low carbon economies and sustainable energy sectors through the provision of energy efficient lighting to communities in the Eastern Caribbean. The project assisted countries in removing the policy, capacity and investment barriers to energy efficient lighting. The project goals were aligned with the SIDS DOCK objective to increase energy efficiency by at least 25%, and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) objective of doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency. The private sector was en...[more]

United Nations Development Programme, Government of all participating countries (Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Commonwealth of Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis), Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, Global Environmental Facility Trust Fund, Government of Denmark, OECS Commission, UWI, Caribbean Science Foundation, Balkan Light, CROSQ, Light Naturally Consulting, CARICOM Ene...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC)

The best opportunity to slow the rate of near-term warming globally and in sensitive regions such as the Arctic is by cutting emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) – most notably methane, black carbon and some hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Widespread reductions, which complement the need for aggressive global action on carbon dioxide, contribute significantly to the goal of limiting warming to less than two degrees. Reducing SLCPs can also advance national priorities such as protecting air quality and public health, promoting food security, enhancing energy efficiency, and allevi...[more]

111 Partners, 50 State and REIO, 16 IGO and 45 NGO partners (as of April 2016). Full list:
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
IHO Hydrography Capacity Building Programme for Coastal States

The IHO capacity building programme seeks to assess and advise on how countries can best meet their international obligations and serve their own best interests by providing appropriate hydrographic and nautical charting services. Such services directly support safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, efficient sea transportation and the wider use of the seas and oceans in a sustainable way, including the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, fishing, marine resource exploration and exploitation, maritime boundary delimitation, maritime defence and security, and o...[more]

International Hydrographic Organization (IGO); 87 IHO Member States (Governments); International Maritime Organization (UN); World Meteorological Organization (UN); International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (NGO)
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
SANDWATCH - a Global Observatory of Changing Environments in SIDS based on citizen science

Coasts and beaches are highly dynamic environments of critical importance to the economic, socio-cultural and bio-physical integrity of SIDS. During recent decades, these environments have been subjected to an increasing rate of change due to urbanisation and expanding coastal development, as well as climate change and climate variability. These changes are impacting, often adversely, the lifestyles and livelihoods of islanders living in coastal towns and villages, and beyond that, resource-based and tourism-based economies from local to national levels.Working in this context, Sandwatch is an...[more]

Sandwatch is an international partnership between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Sandwatch Foundation, University of Puerto Rico, together with other NGOs, schools (some of which are part of the Associated School Network -ASPnet), numerous local governments and ministries in 30 countries worldwide, half of which are SIDS, as well as sponsors such...[more]
Action Network
Sustainable Development Goals
17 Jul 2017
22 Jun 2012
10 May 2007
1 May 2007
30 Apr 2007
10 May 2006
5 May 2006
20 Apr 2005
29 Apr 2004
2 Sep 2002
United Nations