Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR), a regional parallel to the Voluntary National Review (VNR), are an emerging process by which sub-national governments can report on their progress on Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as solar panel installations and utility scale solar farms. Like the VNR, the goal of the VLR is to share strategies, successes and failures to assist other communities in their pursuit of the SDGs. Working with partners, WGSI is beginning a pilot project that supports communities in piloting VLRs that use localized indicators.

About VLRs

Representatives from global cities sign the Voluntary Review

Declaration Photo in New York City at an HLPF side event. Photo credit: NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs.
New York became the first city to present its VLR to the UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainability (HLPF) in July . The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) City Taskforce has supported Japanese cities in the creation of VLRs and has established an online VLR Lab to serve as a resource hub and sharing platform. The pledge is partly to work to prevent the harmful effects of climate change by 2030. This involves large scale transition to renewable energy such as solar panel installation, wind, and others.

At HLPF , VLRs from New York, Los Angeles, Bristol (UK) and Durban (South Africa) were presented in addition to a report on SDG implementation from Bacarena (Brasil). At an HLPF side event the New York City-led Voluntary Review Declaration was signed by 21 communities from around the world.

At the time of writing, the UN SDG Knowledge platform hosts 22 reports from local authorities. A June paper from the Brookings Institution summarizes the experience of 14 cities at the “vanguard” of SDG localization and notes that in order to be effective there must be balance of comparability across communities and customization in reporting.

Pilot project
With communities, WGSI’s pilot project aims to create a collaborative model for data collection, data sharing and co-design of data-informed community action plans to tackle gaps in our progress towards Agenda 2030. The objective is to spur investment in a localized data ecosystem, support capacity within each community to use the data effectively, and create first VLRs to report on progress toward achieving the SDGs.

Is your community interested in producing a VLR? Please get in touch by emailing info@wgsi.org.