United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Voluntary Local Reviews

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Background

When adopting the 2030 Agenda, United Nations member States committed to working closely with local and regional governments on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since 2015, metropolises, small cities, regions and their associations alike have been actively localizing the 2030 Agenda, bringing the SDGs closer to the people they serve and using the framework as a tool for planning and execution.

As part of its follow-up and review mechanisms, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development encourages member States to "conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress at the national and sub-national levels, which are country-led and country-driven" (paragraph 79). Paragraph 89 of the 2030 Agenda calls on major groups and other stakeholders, including local authorities, to report on their contribution to the implementation of the Agenda.

In this spirit, local and regional governments are increasingly engaging in such sub-national reviews of SDG implementation, also called Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). While the VLRs hold no official status, the process of undertaking these sub-national reviews is providing multiple benefits to the entities engaging in them and to SDG implementation at large. These VLRs can also help to reinforce vertical coherence and complement and contribute to the national Voluntary National Reviews of SDG implementation.

The documents and reports submitted by cities and regions that are available on this website have been placed on the platform as received. The designations employed do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area, or of its authorities, or concerning its frontiers or boundaries.

 

Reports from Local Authorities

You can see below a few examples from local local authorities on their contribution to SDG implementation

If you would like to submit a Voluntary Local Review report developed by your city/region/province, please, send a pdf version to dsdg@un.org with the Subject: Voluntary Local Review from [Add the name of the city/region/province and country]. Submissions are reviewed on a regular basis.

 

Report Name Year Language Link Place of Implementation Government Level Country
Barcelona: Sustainable Future 2020 English, Catalan and Spanish

link (English),

link (Catalan),

link (Spanish)

Barcelona City of Barcelona City Spain
Agenda 2030 on the local level: implementation of the un sustainable development goals in bonn 2020 English link Bonn City of Bonn City Germany
Voluntary Local Review - Buenos Aires Adaptation of the 2030 Agenda (2020) 2020 English link Buenos Aires Buenos Aires City City Argentina
Espoo Voluntary Local Review 2020 English link Espoo City of Espoo City Finland
Ghent Sustainability Report 2020 - Voluntary Local Review 2020 English link Ghent City of Ghent City Belgium
Vibrancy, Inclusion, and Openness; a Mega-City's Road Towards Green Development - UN SDGs Guangzhou Voluntary Local Review 2020 English link Guangzhou City of Guangzhou City China
Montevideo Sustainable Development Goals - First Voluntary Review 2020 2020 English link Montevideo Montevideo City Government  City Uruguay
Voluntary Local Review on the Sustainable Development Goals in the State of Pará - Brazil 2020 English link Pará Government of the State of Pará State  Brazil
Pittsburgh and the Sustainable Development Goals - A Voluntary Local Review of Progress 2020 English link Pittsburgh City of Pittsburgh City United States
Report of Localization of Sustainable Development Goals in São Paulo 2020 English, Spanish, Portuguese

link (English),

link (Spanish),

link (Portuguese)

São Paulo São Paulo City Hall City Brazil
Lebenswertes Stuttgart Die globale Agenda 2030 auf lokaler Ebene 2020 German link Stuttgart City of Stuttgart City Germany
The Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the City of Turku 2020 English link Turku City of Turku City Finland
Où en est la Wallonie par rapport aux Objectifs de Développement Durable? 2020 French link Wallonia Government of Wallonia Regional Belgium
Voluntary Subnational Report 2020 English, Spanish

link (English),

link (Spanish),

Yucatan Government of the State of Yucatan State Mexico
3rd Monitoring Report I Agenda Euskadi Basque Country 2030 2019 English link Basque Basque Country Government Regional Spain
Bristol and the SDGs: A Voluntary Local Review of Progress 2019 2019 English link Bristol Bristol City Council City United Kingdom
Voluntary Local Review Building a sustainable and inclusive Buenos Aires 2019 English link Buenos Aires Buenos Aires City City Argentina
From Agenda to Action - The Implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Helsinki 2019 2019 English link Helsinki City of Helsinki City Finland
A Voluntary Local Review of Progress in 2019 2019 English link Los Angeles Los Angeles Mayor's Office of International Affairs City United States
The implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals in Mannheim 2019 English link Mannheim Mannheim Mayor's Office City Germany
Innovation and Rights; A Program To Advance Sustainable Development in Mexico City 2019 English link Mexico City Government of Mexico City City Mexico
New York City’s Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 2019 English link New York City NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs City United States
Voluntary Subnational Review 2019 English link Oaxaca Government of the State Oaxaca State Mexico
Santana de Parnaíba 2030 Vision Connected to the Future 2019 Portuguese link Santana de Parnaíba Government of the State of Santana de Parnaíba State Brazil
1st Progress Report on the Sustainable Development Goals in São Paulo State 2019 Portuguese link (English) link (Portuguese) São Paulo Government of the State of São Paulo State Brazil
2030 Agenda of Basque Country 2018 Basque (pg. 1), Spanish (pg. 68), English (pg. 133) link Basque Basque Country Government Region Spain
2nd Monitoring Report I Agenda Euskadi Basque Country 2030 2018 English link Basque Basque Country Government Region Spain
Kitakyushu City the Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 English link Kitakyushu City of Kitakyushu City Japan
Objectives of Sustainable Development and its location in the municipality of La Paz 2018 Spanish link La Paz Municipal Autonomous Government of La Paz City Bolivia
Voluntary Local Review 2018 English link New York City NYC Mayors office for International Affairs City United States
Shimokawa Town the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Report 2018 English link Shimokawa Shimokawa Town Town Japan
Suwon Implementation Report on Goal 11 2018 English link Suwon Suwon City Government City Korea
Toyama City- Sustainable Development Goals report 2018 English link Toyama Toyama City Government City Japan
Localization of the Agenda 2030 in Barcarena 2017 Portuguese link Barcarena Barcarena Municipality Municipal Brazil
I Agenda Euskadi Basque Country 2030 Monitoring Report 2017 English link Basque Basque Country Government Regional Spain
Cauayan City: Localizing Sustainable Development Goals 2017 English link Cauayan City Local Government Unit - Cauayan City City Philippines
Green Environmental Sustainability Progress Report 2017 English link Sydney City of Sydney- Local Government City Australia
En route to 2030: Implementation report on sustainable development in Wallonia 2017 French link Wallonia Government of Wallonia Regional Belgium
Sustainability Strategy for North Rhine-Westphalia    2016 English link North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Agriculture, Conservation and Consumer Protection of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia State Germany
The region of Valencia and local implementation of SDGs 2016 English link Valencia The generaliat Valencia State Spain

 

events

Resources

Global Guiding Elements for Voluntary Local Reviews

The Global Guiding Elements for Voluntary Local Reviews (available for download in EnglishArabic, Chinese, Russian, Spanish and French) provide a starting point for local and regional governments considering producing their own Voluntary Local Review and aim to give an overview of useful focus areas for the review process and the eventual report. As such, they are not meant to be prescriptive nor restrictive.

Given the variety of local and regional governments conducting reviews of their SDG implementation, these Global Guiding Elements do not aim at addressing best practices for institutional arrangements, data collection or stakeholder engagement, but merely highlight areas that could be addressed in the VLR process. Hence, the guiding elements aim at providing a low-threshold entry point to VLRs by showcasing a check list of issues that could be addressed.

The Global Guiding Elements aim at enhancing peer learning, including through promotion of consistency and comparability between reports of subnational governments, whether regions or cities. They also aim at providing a framework that, building on the SDGs as the common language among all levels of government, enhances the dialogue between the Voluntary National Reviews and the Voluntary Local Reviews and relevant actors at all levels. They draw upon the Secretary-General’s Voluntary common reporting guidelines for voluntary national reviews, developed by UN DESA, which have proven useful for member States’ efforts in reporting on their progress.

Guidance materials for conducting a subnational review of SDG implementation

A number of other actors have produced useful guidance and reference materials aimed at supporting cities and regions in conducting their reviews of SDG implementation: 

Shimokawa Method for Voluntary Local Reviews

Institute for Global Environmental Strategies has published in April 2020 the Shimokawa Method for Voluntary Local Reviews. The handbook provides a hands-on, step-by-step method to conduct VLRs and comprises of ten steps. Each step highlights a critical aspect needed to successfully conduct a VLR. It also contains the VLR Format for reference.

United Cities and Local Governments: SDGs Learning Module 3: Reporting to national & local reviews

As part of its online training series, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) published in June 2019 the SDGs Learning Module 3: Reporting to national & local reviews. The objective of Module 3 is to enhance the involvement of local and regional government associations (LRGAs) in the preparation of national VNRs and to help them to make their own reports on the involvement of LRGs in the pursuit of localizing of the SDGs and global agendas, as well as to support local governments in the reporting exercise.

Cities Taking the Lead on the Sustainable Development Goals - a Voluntary Local Review Handbook for Cities

Brookings Institution has made available a Voluntary Local Review Handbook for Cities The goal of the Handbook is to provide guidance, templates, and case studies to cities and local authorities interested in producing a Voluntary Local Review (VLR) or an initial report to stakeholders on how city programs and services work towards the SDGs. The information aims at helping cities decide where to start and which components to include in such a report. The Handbook was developed by a team of students from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy.

The European Handbook for SDG Voluntary Local Review

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has published a Handbook to help cities measure their progress towards the SDGs. The Handbook provides examples of official and experimental indicators useful to set up an effective SDG local monitoring system. Per each Goal, the Handbook highlights examples of harmonised and locally collected indicators so that cities can both benchmark themselves with other cities and monitor their own specific needs and challenges.

Cabot Institute for the Environment's VLR Handbook

The VLR Handbook was produced in collaboration with the Bristol One City Office. Bristol was the first UK city to have carried out a Voluntary Local Review and the handbook provides information about the approach adopted in Bristol. Bristol’s VLR was one of the few that has involved citywide engagement of the activities that organizations within the city have undertaken towards the SDGs through. This handbook shares the methods used to undertake this consultation and provides specific discussions around some of the biggest challenges faced in Bristol while developing the VLR. The handbook contains data sources that will be of specific use of UK cities but the learning from Bristol’s citywide approach that assessed progress towards all 17 SDGs will likely be useful to cities everywhere.

Asia-Pacific Regional Guideline on Voluntary Local Reviews (UNESCAP)

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) together with the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization (PPSU) is working on a Regional Guideline which aims at supporting cities in their VLR process. Given the varied institutional environment across the region in terms of enabling local actions, the guideline is also expected to support cities in partnering with relevant national authorities and other stakeholders for bottom-up action processes through a multi-level governance approach to SDGs. It will contain guidance, templates, and case studies specific to the Asia-Pacific region that can help cities decide how and where to start a VLR process and components to include in their VLR report.

UCLG-UN-Habitat Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews Vol.1

The first volume of the Guidelines for VLRs is part of a larger partnership between UCLG and UN-Habitat: the VLR Series. The latter is aimed at providing cities and LRGs with cutting-edge knowledge and practical guidance on the VLR process, while kindling the sharing of experience and practices — and, ultimately, a global conversation — on monitoring and reporting on the SDGs at the local level. The Vol.1 of the Guidelines for VLRs offers a comparative analysis of existing VLRs, especially exploring the key elements to start with the VLR process: a) what institutions and actors are being involved in a VLR?; b) where is the VLR process located institutionally in the broader scheme of multilevel governance?; c) what contents are VLRs including, and why?; d) how are VLRs being made, with what resources and what goals?