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.

The GOLD has already presented four 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 Guidelines for VLRs along with UN-Habitat, the facilitation of the Community of Practice on VLRs and the participation in the Cross-Institutional Working Group on SDG indicators, 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 and 2020.

The fourth ‘Towards the localization of the SDGs’ report was presented on the occasion of the Local and Regional Governments’ Day in the framework of the 2020 High-Level Political Forum. The report builds on the previous publications’ knowledge on the state of localization, and has adapted to the current context by emphasizing the direct contribution of local and regional governments both to the SDGs and to the COVID-19 crisis.

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

Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) are country-wide, bottom-up subnational reporting processes on the state of localization of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a specific country. These documents cover all SDGs and principles and follow a structure inspired by the one suggested for the elaboration of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

The elaboration of VSRs has been promoted by UCLG so far in six pilot countries who were reporting to the 2020 High Level Political Forum (Benin, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Kenya, Mozambique and Nepal). In order to elaborate these VSRs, UCLG has engaged with the national associations of these countries, in cooperation with GiZ in Benin and Mozambique.

These reporting 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, the VSRs of Benin, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Kenya have been mentioned in the respective VNRs. Moreover, in the case of Nepal, the dialogue fostered by the VSR process led to a formal invitation to the national associations (the Municipal Association of Nepal and the National Association of Rural Municipalities) to form part of the national SDG Steering Committee.

On this webpage you can find six VSRs that were produced in 2020 with the support of UCLG.

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Benin (2020)
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Costa Rica (2020)
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Ecuador (2020)

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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Kwale County (2019)
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La Paz (2018)
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Los Angeles (2019)
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Málaga (2018)
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Mannheim (2019)
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Marsabit County (2019)
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Mexico City (2017)
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New York (2018)
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New York (2019)
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North Rhine-Westphalia (2016)
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Oaxaca (2019)
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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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Shimokawa (2018)
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Suwon (2018)
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Barcarena (2017)
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Sydney (2018)
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Barcelona (2019)
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Taipei (2019)
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Basque Country (2018)
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Taita Taveta County (2019)
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Besançon (2018)
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Toyama (2018)
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Bristol (2019)
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Valencia Region (2016)
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Buenos Aires (2019)
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Wallonia (2017)
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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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Deqing (2017)
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Deqing (2018)
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Gothenburg (2019)
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Hamamatsu (2019)
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Helsinki (2019)
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Kitakyushu (2018)

The “Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews - volume 1”, jointly developed by UCLG and UN-Habitat, are aimed at showcasing the value of subnational 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 broader goal of these and subsequent Guidelines is to provide 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.

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Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews - Volume 1 (2020)

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

Within the overall framework of the UCLG and UNDP-ART cooperation on the localization of the SDGs, a Cross-Institutional Working Group (CIWG) on SDG indicators and monitoring at local level was created in order to advance on local level monitoring of the SDG implementation process.

The first step taken within the CIWG is an inception report that 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 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 the most suitable way to track progress of SDG localization in their territories.