Voluntary National Review 2021

Video Presentation at the HLPF 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic occurred immediately after the international community had reaffirmed its commitment to accelerate its efforts to achieve the SDGs based on the declaration of “the Decade of Action”. The Pandemic has since been threatening the lives, livelihoods and dignity of people around the world, especially those in vulnerable situations. It has also greatly affected efforts to achieve the SDGs. It is indeed causing a human security crisis. Under these circumstances, the SDGs will be an important roadmap for social transformation that looks ahead to a new era and anticipates the future. Therefore, in this VNR, we look back at how Japan has been working to promote the SDGs and check the progress toward achieving the SDGs in order to overcome and “build back better” from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to achieve the SDGs, it is critical for all stakeholders to work together to promote their efforts. In this VNR, through reviewing Japan's domestic institutions to promote the SDGs, it was confirmed that through such frameworks as the “Japan SDGs Award” organized under the SDGs Promotion Headquarters headed by the Prime Minister, which recognizes leading companies and organizations working on the SDGs, collaboration among various stakeholders has been broadened, leading to increased awareness throughout Japan and progress on the SDGs.

In particular, with regard to local governments, those that proposed outstanding initiatives to achieve the SDGs have been selected as "SDG Future Cities" since 2018, and leading model cases have been disseminated throughout the country. In addition to “SDG Future Cities”, other initiatives such as the "Public-Private Partnership Platform for Local SDGs" and "Local SDG Finance” have created momentum to promote the SDGs and encouraged every citizen to treat the SDGs as their own concern. As a result, a movement to promote the resolution of regional issues, such as declining birthrates, aging communities, and declining populations, through the principles of the SDGs has been gaining momentum throughout the country. In 2017, when Japan submitted its last VNR, the percentage of local governments working on the SDGs was only 1%, but by 2020, it had risen to 39.7%, and the Government of Japan is working to increase it to 60% by the end of FY2024. In this connection, in this VNR, we have included several positive examples of local governments that have taken the lead to promote the SDGs as model cities in Japan, including four cities that have conducted their own Voluntary Local Reviews.

In its “SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles”, the Government of Japan has identified eight priority issues that Japan should focus on in particular. This VNR describes major efforts that have been made for each priority issue in terms of both domestic implementation and international cooperation, as well as the progress that has been made on the 17 goals through such efforts, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the achievement of the SDGs requires the efforts of a wide range of stakeholders, this VNR was prepared not only through discussions within the government, but through discussions at the “SDGs Promotion Roundtable”, which consists of representatives from various fields, discussions with civil society and the youth generation who will lead the society in the future, and through public comments in order to incorporate the opinions of a wide range of people. In addition, in order to evaluate our progress, we have included evaluations from the private sector members of the “SDGs Promotion Roundtable”, considering that it would be desirable to include evaluations of progress from other perspectives other than the government’s.

The drafting process of the VNR provided us an opportunity to review the institutions for promoting the SDGs and major initiatives, and to consider how Japan should promote the SDGs in the future. Therefore, based on the opinions of experts and citizens, the VNR concludes with a description of how Japan will promote initiatives to achieve the SDGs henceforth.

Japan will continue to work with the international community based on the principle of human security, in order to address global health, including the achievement of universal health coverage, and realize a society where the SDGs have been achieved and "no one is left behind".

Voluntary National Review 2017
Japan’s efforts toward achieving the SDGs through PPAP, Public Private Action for Partnership

1. Fundamental Idea

Prior to the formulation of the 2030 Agenda, Japan was already implementing measures in an integrated manner to build a sustainable society through environmental, economic and social improvements. Japan has also embarked on creating an inclusive and participatory society in which every individual can achieve his or her full potential. In line with this ideal, Japan has forged ahead by reforming its relevant systems. Also, Japan has set human security as the guiding principle that lies at the foundation of its foreign assistance and has placed issues such as health, disaster risk reduction and gender equality, which are listed in the SDGs as major challenges to be addressed, at the core of its international cooperation.

Based on this experience, Japan played a leading role in the formulation of the 2030 Agenda, including the individual goals and targets.

Japan aims to become a role model for the world in the implementation of measures to achieve the SDGs and will make efforts both in Japan and in cooperation with other countries to achieve sustainable societies worldwide where no one is left behind.

2. Institutional Framework and the Implementation Guiding Principles

On May 20, 2016, the Government of Japan established a new Cabinet body called the “SDGs Promotion Headquarters”, headed by the Prime Minister and composed of all ministers. The SDGs Promotion Headquarters was established to foster close cooperation among relevant ministries and government agencies, and to lead the comprehensive and effective implementation of SDGs-related measures as a control tower.

Under the SDGs Promotion Headquarters, we have held roundtable meetings on items related to the promotion and implementation of the 2030 Agenda, attended by representatives from a wide range of stakeholders, including NGO/NPOs, academia, the private sector and international organizations. So far, roundtable meetings have been held in September and November, 2016, and we have also conducted public comments. Through these processes, the government has widely sought the opinions of citizens and has held dialogues with a range of stakeholders. Based on these discussions, at the second meeting of the SDGs Promotions Headquarters held in December 2016, we adopted the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles, which represent Japan’s national strategy to address the major challenges for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

In the Guiding Principles, Japan established the following vision: “Become a leader toward a future where economic, social and environmental improvements are attained in an integrated, sustainable and resilient manner while leaving no one behind.” Besides the vision, the document includes five implementation principles and an approach to the follow-up and review processes. By restructuring the SDGs in light of Japan’s national context, it has identified eight priority areas among the goals and targets of the SDGs on which Japan should focus:

  1. Empowerment of All People (related SDGs: 1, 4, 5, 8, 10, 12)
  2. Achievement of Good Health and Longevity (related SDG: 3)
  3. Creating Growth Markets, Revitalization of Rural Areas, and Promoting Science Technology and Innovation (related SDGs: 2, 8, 9, 11)
  4. Sustainable and Resilient Land Use, Promoting Quality Infrastructure (related SDGs: 2, 6, 9, 11)
  5. Energy Conservation, Renewable Energy, Climate Change Countermeasures, and Sound Material-Cycle Society (related SDGs: 7, 12, 13)
  6. Conservation of Environment, including Biodiversity, Forests and the Oceans (related SDGs: 2, 3, 14, 15)
  7. Achieving Peaceful, Safe and Secure Societies (related SDG: 16)
  8. Strengthening the Means and Frameworks for the Implementation of the SDGs (related SDG: 17)

In the Annex to the Guiding Principles, 140 specific measures to be implemented both at home and abroad are listed together with indicators.

3.Stakeholder Engagement

The Government of Japan attaches great importance to implementing measures for the 2030 Agenda, monitoring progress, and conducting follow-up and review activities across agency boundaries and through public-private partnerships; in other words, through Public Private Action for Partnership (PPAP), in order to achieve the SDGs. It will do this in cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders, including local governments, NGOs/NPOs, academia, the private sector, international organizations and other entities, parliamentarians, scientists and cooperatives. It was to this end that the Government of Japan established the SDGs Promotion Roundtable Meetings, mentioned above, comprising a wide range of stakeholders. The roundtable meetings were held to draft the SDGs Implementation Guiding Principles as well as in preparation for the voluntary national review.

Also, a variety of efforts by other stakeholders, such as NPOs and NGOs, private companies, local governments, science community and parliamentarians at home and overseas, to promote the SDGs have started to spread. In order to further encourage the private sector to work on the SDGs, the SDGs Promotion Headquarters decided to create the “Japan SDGs Award,” which will be presented to leading initiatives by private companies and organizations during its meeting in June 2017.

On the other hand, public awareness of the SDGs is not yet sufficient. In order to promote SDGs-related measures as a national movement, it is critical to promote the understanding of every single Japanese person about the SDGs. To this end, under the leadership of SDGs Promotion Headquarters, Japan will work hard on raising public awareness through communication campaigns in collaboration with all the stakeholders.

Furthermore, in order to nurture in children, who will lead society in 2030 and beyond, the competencies to be the future creators of sustainable societies and leaders of world, we are promoting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), as well as encouraging learning about SDGs in all settings, including schools, households, workplaces and local communities.
Focal point
SDGs Promotion Headquarters
Contact: sdgs.secretariat@mofa.go.jp
Partnerships & Commitments
The below is a listing of all partnership initiatives and voluntary commitments where Japan* is listed as a partner in the Partnerships for SDGs online platform.
17 Jul 2017
7 Jun 2017
19 Jul 2016
17 Mar 2016
20 Sep 2013
20 Jun 2012
11 May 2011
2 May 2011
13 May 2010
12 May 2010
10 May 2010
5 May 2010
5 May 2010
5 May 2010
3 May 2010
13 May 2009
4 May 2009
4 May 2009
12 May 2008
8 May 2008
8 May 2008
8 May 2008
7 May 2008
7 May 2008
7 May 2008
6 May 2008
5 May 2008
1 May 2007
1 May 2007
1 May 2007
11 May 2006
9 May 2006
5 May 2006
5 May 2006
3 May 2006
3 May 2006
3 May 2006
3 May 2006
2 May 2006
2 May 2006
1 May 2006
21 Apr 2005
13 Apr 2005
12 Apr 2005
11 Apr 2005
29 Apr 2004
28 Apr 2004
21 Apr 2004
2 Sep 2002
United Nations