Harnessing the potential of Voluntary Local Reviews for transformative change at the local level
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
Central to the successful localization of global sustainability agendas is the monitoring, evaluation and reporting process of development policies and initiatives that cities undertake. Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) have become the tool of choice for local and regional governments to keep track on the implementation of the SDGs in their territories.
VLRs have emerged as an innovation by and for cities, contributing to demonstrate the centrality of the mandate of local governments and local communities in the achievement of sustainable development. Four years into the VLR movement, over 100 VLRs have been published by more than 100 local and regional authorities from more than 30 countries. Complimentary to VLRs, Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) provide an aggregated country-wide analysis of subnational efforts and challenges of localizing the SDGs. This input from VSRs can contribute to VLRs and VNRs with first- hand information from the subnational government level.
It is important to take stock of where the VLR movement stands and look forward into its future, specifically connecting VLRs to the wider and deeper SDG localization process.
Local and regional governments from different regions and countries experience similar challenges across the stages of the VLR process. These are mainly linked to the limited capacities in data collection and availability, lack of adequate human, financial and technical resources, limited engagement within national SDG review processes and difficulties in engaging communities and vulnerable groups into truly inclusive and participatory processes.
From apolitical perspective, it is important to look at what VLRs are missing to become an instrument of change and to position local governments as allies and strategic partners vis-à-vis national governments. Thanks to the VLR movement, the local-national link has been revamped in many countries, but lots needs to be done to systematically include local governments into national reporting systems.
From the technical innovation angle, VLRs can facilitate the identification and design of innovative solutions to today’s challenges starting from the bottom-up. Specifically, VLRs can be the starting point for the development of City Development Strategies, hence the foundation of a long-term localization process.
Combing these two perspectives, one critical question moving forward is to ensure that VLRs support the in breaking of administrative silos, while fueling strategic planning and long-term development. In this sense, it is critical to ensure that VLRs do not happen in a vacuum but that contributions of local and regional governments are integrated into long-term sustainable development processes and vertically aligned with national reporting processes.
This session will bring together experts and practitioners with experience in the development of VLRs and cities development strategies. It aims to highlight the aspects of VLRs that have driven their adoption as the preferred tool for local reporting all over the globe, while also fostering the conversation across experts on how to harness their potential to promote change at the local level.
- Provide peer-to-peer learning exchange on VLRs as tools to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs at the local level.
- Discuss how VLRs can support the design and adoption of city development strategies
- Bring together local, regional, and national authorities and relevant stakeholders to present the advantages and challenges of the VLR process as well as ways to harness their potential to contribute to VNRs and wider development strategies.
- Draw on perspectives from different VLR experiences to recommend concrete proposals on the ways in which the VLR process can be emboldened from the political and technical angle to drive transformative change.
- Nurture the discussion on multi-level and multi-stakeholder involvement in local and regional development plans and take stock of the progress made. Share proposals and recommendations on how they can be better integrated into global agendas.