Localizing the SDGs: a boost to monitoring & reporting

The GOLD is committed to localizing the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda and the other major global agendas. With the start of the SDG acceleration decade, the GOLD is putting its efforts in supporting local and regional governments in the processes of monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

UCLG, on behalf of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, has already facilitated and presented five reports called ‘Towards the localization of the SDGs’ at the United Nations' High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development that takes place yearly in New York. Other initiatives include developing and disseminating materials, participating in discussion groups and directly supporting local and regional authorities in their efforts to localize the SDGs and, particularly, to monitor and report on the achievements and challenges. Country-wide, bottom-up Voluntary Subnational Reviews and Voluntary Local Reviews are becoming crucial tools with which local and regional governments report on the state of SDG localization in their territories. Through the publication of the two volumes of the ‘Guidelines for VLRs’ along with UN-Habitat and the ‘Guidelines for VSRs’ with the CIB Working Group; the facilitation of the communities of practice on local SDG reporting; and the publication of the ‘Comparative study on SDG monitoring systems at local and regional levels’ with several partners, the GOLD, consistent with the overarching strategy of UCLG, aspires to contribute to achieving the SDGs and empowering local and regional governments in their endeavor.

UCLG in collaboration with the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, which gathers the 25 main global and regional networks of local and regional governments, has developed annual reports of local and regional governments to the HLPF: ‘Towards the localization of the SDGs’. These reports, which aim to report on the state of SDG implementation at the local level around the world, have been produced and presented to the HLPF in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The fifth report of local and regional governments to the HLPF, published in 2021, provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of LRGs’ efforts to respond to the pandemic in cities and territories worldwide, as well as their connections with the SDGs under review, with a particular focus on the 43 countries presenting Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) this year. It shows how LRGs are contributing to promoting a safe, just and green recovery at all levels and what challenges must be overcome to harness their full potential.

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2021 Towards the Localization of the SDGs
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2021 Survey - The localization of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda
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2020 Towards the Lozalization of the SDGs
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2020 Survey on the role of local and regional governments’ and their associations (OUTDATED)
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2019 Towards the Localization of the SDGs
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2018 Towards the Localization of the SDGs
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2017 National and Sub-National Governments on the way towards the Localization of the SDGs

Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) are country-wide, bottom-up subnational reporting processes that provide both comprehensive and in-depth analyses of the corresponding national environments for SDG localization. They also include the experiences of LRGs from different parts of each country in implementing the SDGs on the ground.

The elaboration of VSRs has been facilitated by UCLG since 2020: in six pilot countries who were reporting to the 2020 High Level Political Forum (Benin, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Mozambique and Nepal), and in eight pilot countries who did the same in the 2021 HLPF (Cape Verde, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Tunisia, Zimbabwe). Ecuador has produced its second VSR in 2021. Together, these VSRs represent more than 16,000 LRGs.

These reporting processes, along with the VLR processes, have had a positive impact in terms of multilevel dialogue, as well as on the dialogue between national associations and municipal governments. Results have been very positive in terms of enhancing local and regional participation in national reporting processes. For example, In Tunisia and Zimbabwe, local governments have been asked to summarise their contributions to integrate them within their country’s VNR. The VSRs of Benin, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and Sweden have been mentioned, partially quoted or fully integrated in the respective VNRs. In Cape Verde, local governments were associated with the reporting unit and, in Nepal, the national associations were invited to form part of the national SDG Steering Committee.

On this webpage you can find the nine VSRs that were produced in 2021 and the six VSRs that were produced in 2020.

2021 VSRs

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Cape Verde (2021)
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Ecuador (2021)
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Germany (2021)
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Indonesia (2021)
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Mexico (2021)
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Norway (2021)
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Sweden (2021)
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Tunisia (2021)
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Zimbabwe (2021)

2020 VSRs

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Benin (2020)
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Costa Rica (2020)
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Ecuador (2020)
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Kenya (2020)
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Mozambique (2020)
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Nepal (2020)

This publication provides guidelines for those local and regional government associations that are willing to embark on the project of developing their own VSRs in a way that serves as input for their national VNRs, with the aim of helping to strengthen the localization of the SDGs. It provides the tools necessary to further enhance the potential of VSRs as instruments with which to increase LRG ownership of the 2030 Agenda and other global commitments and to strengthen multi-level and multi-stakeholder dialogue

The Guidelines are meant to be flexible so that each local and regional government association can adapt them to its own needs, objectives, resources and capabilities.

The drafting of these Guidelines is the culmination of a rich, participative and co-productive process. The Guidelines are based on experiences shared in a series of VSR workshops organised by UCLG and UCLG-CIB throughout 2021. The four workshops, held in March, April, May and October 2021, brought together the associations preparing VSRs in 2020 and 2021 and set in motion a number of in-depth exchanges on matters such as structure, methodology, the selection of case studies and indicators, key findings, the dissemination and use of findings, and negotiations with national governments. The aim of the sessions was to exchange ideas in order to enrich the VSRs and to instil good practices into these VSR guidelines, highlighting the elements to replicate, in order to inspire other associations to produce VSRs in the coming years.

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Guidelines for VSRs

Although there exists no fixed working definition for Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs), all documents produced so far share a primary purpose: assessing and presenting advances on the fulfilment of the 2030 Agenda from a local standpoint and through a locally-developed narrative.

VLRs are proof that local and regional governments have been at the forefront of implementation, awareness-raising, training and coalition-building. VLRs allow LRGs to (vertically) complement the information that is being provided at the national level. They also allow them to (horizontally) share and learn mutually from other LRGs, strengthening the sense of community and joint destiny and ownership that underpins the SDG framework and its discourse. VLRs represent an aspirational statement and the commitment of a community to a global endeavour: the Sustainable Development Goals.

In this webpage you will find several VLRs that have been produced until 2020 by local and regional governments throughout the different countries and regions of the world.

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Asker (2021)
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Barcarena (2017)
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Barcelona (2019)
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Barcelona (2020)
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Basque Country (2018)
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Basque Country (2019)
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Basque Country (2020)
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Belo Horizonte (2020)
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Bergen (2021)
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Besançon (2018)
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Besançon (2019)
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Bonn (2020)
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Bristol (2019)
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Buenos Aires (2019)
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Buenos Aires (2020)
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Buenos Aires (2021)
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Busia County (2019)
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Canterbury (2019)
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Cape Town (2019)
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Cauayan City (2017)
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Chimbote (2020)
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Ciudad Valles (2020)
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Córdoba Provincial Council (2020)
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Dangjin (2020)
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Deqing (2017)
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Durango (2021)
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Espoo (2020)
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Florence (2021)
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Ghent (2020)
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Gladsaxe (2021)
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Gothenburg (2019)
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Guadalajara (2021)
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Guangzhou (2021)
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Hamamatsu (2019)
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Harare (2020)
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Hawaii (2020)
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Helsingborg (2021)
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Helsinki (2019)
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Helsinki (2021)
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Jaén (2020)
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Kelowna (2021)
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Kitakyushu (2018)
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Kwale County (2019)
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La Paz (2018)
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Lima (2021)
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Lincoln (2016-2017)
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Lincoln (2017-2018)
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Liverpool (2020)
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Los Angeles (2019)
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Los Angeles (2021)
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Málaga (2018)
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Malmö (2021)
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Mannheim (2019)
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Marsabit County (2019)
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Mérida (2021)
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Mexico City (2017)
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Mexico City (2019)
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Mexico City (2021)
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Mexico State (2021)
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Montevideo (2020)
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New Taipei (2019)
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New York (2018)
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New York (2019)
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Niort (2020)
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Niteroi (2020)
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North Rhine-Westphalia (2016)
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Oaxaca (2019)
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Orlando (2021)
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Pará (2020)
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Pará (2021)
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Pittsburgh (2020)
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Rio (2020)
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Romsdal (2021)
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Santa Fe (2019)
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Santana de Parnaíba (2019)
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Sao Paulo (2019)
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Sao Paulo (2020)
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Scotland (2021)
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Shah Alam (2021)
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Shimokawa (2018)
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Sidney (2018)
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Stockholm (2021)
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Stuttgart (2020)
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Subang Jaya (2021)
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Sultanbeyli (2021)
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Surabaya (2021)
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Suwon (2018)
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Tabasco (2021)
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Taipei (2019)
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Taipei (2020)
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Taipei (2021)
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Taita Taveta County (2019)
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Taoyuan (2020)
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Tokyo (2021)
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Toyama (2018)
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Trujillo (2020)
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Turku (2020)
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Uppsala (2021)
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Valencia Region (2016)
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Vantaa (2021)
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Victoria Falls (2020)
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Viken (2020)
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Wallonia (2017)
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Wallonia (2019)
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Winnipeg (2018)
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Winnipeg (2020)
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Yiwu (2021)
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Yucatan (2020)

Just like Voluntary Subnational Reviews, Voluntary Local Reviews have proven to be powerful accelerators of the SDG localization process worldwide. To capture this potential and build on our longstanding alliance to localize the SDGs, UCLG and UN-Habitat created the VLR Series to support the VLR/VSR global movement. The VLR Series aims to provide national, local and regional governments as well as communities with cutting-edge knowledge and best practices on SDG monitoring and reporting along with opportunities for exchange, peer learning and international engagement.

The Guidelines for VLRs vol. 1 aim at showcasing the value of local reporting as much more than a part of the reporting process. These Guidelines provide LRGs with an overview of the current approaches to the VLR exercise. They do so by studying the key elements underpinning the VLR process: a) what institutions and actors are actually 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?; and d) how are VLRs being made, with what resources and what goals?

The Guidelines vol. 2 explore the link between VLRs and Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), a connection that remains largely preliminary and informal, but is essential for achieving the SDGs by 2030. The guidelines demonstrate how VLRs and the global movement around them have revamped multi-level dialogue, increasing the demand for an effective multi-level cooperation and reinforcing the centrality and effectiveness of SDG localization. This volume also showcases growing evidence of the impact of VLRs/VSRs on VNRs and the national monitoring process.

Taken together, the two volumes of the Guidelines (1) provide an overview of the VLR process; (2) demonstrate of how VLRs and VNRs can add value to one another; and (3) propose key recommendations on how to strengthen multilevel cooperation for data generation and management as well as for enhanced participatory process and means of implementation.

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Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews - Volume 1 (2020)
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Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews - Volume 2 (2021)

Taking into consideration the challenges posed by the SDGs of Agenda 2030, the Community of Practice on Voluntary Local Reviews (CoP on VLRs) has been created as a working group of local and regional governments interested in the deployment and further development of VLRs that report on the achievement of the Agenda 2030 at the local level, understood as a tool for the improvement of local government and local democracy.

The CoP on VLRs is a space where local and regional governments exchange ideas, experiences and practices related to SDG localization, monitoring and reporting in their territories, with strong emphasis on lessons learned and critical points of success. The CoP produces regular newsletters with reflections on the discussions held during the meetings. The CoP ultimately aims to encourage reflection on ways to improve the reports already published by the CoP members and other local and regional governments, as well as the development of new VLRs by other authorities.

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CoP on VLRs Newsletter - July 2020

The Comparative study on SDG monitoring systems at local and regional levels has been developed within the overall framework of the UCLG and UNDP cooperation on the localization of the SDGs, along with the Andalusian Development Cooperation Agency (AACID) and the Barcelona Provincial Council.

The study analyzes and systematizes the different systems of indicators that have been developed so far by different kinds of stakeholders: local and regional governments, national authorities, supranational organizations, academia, private sector and the civil society. The report will be used as a working document to advance the reflection, improve exchange and collaboration on monitoring, reporting and indicators for the SDGs among local and regional governments and partners. It further aims to serve as a tool for local and regional governments to find inspiration when choosing the most suitable way to track progress of SDG localization in their territories according to their priorities, capacities and resources.

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Comparative study on SDG monitoring systems at local and regional levels