The global movement of Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) is growing exponentially. Cities, local and regional governments worldwide are using VLRs to track and report on SDG progress. UN-Habitat views VLRs as powerful accelerators of the process of localizing the Sustainable Development Goals.
To do so, UN-Habitat provides partners worldwide with direct technical support to develop VLRs. It also leads the development of cutting-edge research and guidance on VLRs and provides opportunities for peer learning, capacity building and international engagement
UN-Habitat, in cooperation with its partners, lead the global research on VLRs. Together with United Cities Local Governments (UCLG), UN-Habitat has created the VLR Series, a global initiative aimed at providing local and national governments worldwide with knowledge on VLRs as well as learning opportunities with peers. As part of the VLRs Series, UN-Habitat and UCLG have developed the Guidelines for VLRs volume one and volume two, while in-depth thematic research is currently undergoing on key dimensions of the VLR process and its impact.
Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews Volume 1: A Comparative Analysis of Existing VLRs
Building Participatory Accountability Systems for City Policies - Handbook
Communiqué on Voluntary Local Reviews
Guidelines for Voluntary Local Reviews Volume 2: Towards a New Generation of VLRs: Exploring the local-national link
VLR-VSR Days Report
SDGs Learning Module 3: Reporting to national & local reviews
Towards a new generation of Voluntary Local Reviews: Connecting VLRs and VNRs
UN-Habitat global support to advance VLRs and SDG Localization
Voluntary Local Reviews as Drivers for SDG Localisation and Sustainable Human Development
Voluntary Local Reviews, VLRs toolbox
Reporting on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Sweden
Africa Voluntary Review Guidelines
Directives pour les examens locaux volontaires en Afrique
Local Action for Global Impact – WUF 11
Multilevel Governance for SDG Localization
UN-Habitat closely supports local and regional governments worldwide to develop their VLRs. It does so through a fully-fledged and tested methodology based on its longstanding and unique expertise in sustainable urbanization.
To strengthen multi-level governance for SDG implementation, UN-Habitat also directly assists national and local governments to better articulate their efforts to monitor and report on the SDGs, specifically looking at enhancing the link between VLRs and Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).
Greater Amman Municipality
Date of publication: 2022
Supported by: UN-Habitat, UNESCWA, UCLG MEWA
Ongoing technical cooperations: Bhopal (India); Madrid (Spain)
UN-Habitat's work on VLRs is to be framed within the Agency's support to the advancement of the localization of the SDGs.
By adopting a territorial approach looking at sustainable development through multi-level, multi-sector and multi-stakeholder lenses, UN-Habitat has designed a strategy to support the localization of the SDGs connecting all components of the SDG implementation chain – from data to project implementation, to monitoring systems. The strategy has three components: the Global Urban Monitoring Framework; the Voluntary Local Reviews; and the SDG Cities Flagship Programme.
The Global Urban Monitoring Framework. UN-Habitat has been tasked by the UN General Assembly to lead the development of a harmonized set of indicators to track the progress of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda at the local level. The Global Urban Monitoring Framework (UMF), developed in consultation with a wide range of partners, harmonizes existing indexes while incorporating rural-urban linkages and the principle of leaving no one behind. It is composed of a core set of global indicators and a series of spinoff set to allow for adaptation and in-depth analysis of each local context. The framework is a useful basis for the preparation of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) and Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs).
Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs). Through the methodology used and the data collected through the UMF, UN-Habitat supports cities in developing VLRs. Beyond their primary monitoring and reporting task, UN-Habitat considers VLRs as powerful accelerators of the SDG localization process, specifically as instruments able to enhance policy coherence, strategic planning and multilevel coordination. Moreover, UN-Habitat provides partners worldwide with cutting-edge knowledge on VLRs as well as opportunities for learning and international engagement.
SDG Cities. The SDG Cities Programme is a flagship initiative that builds on the data, narratives and priorities identified via the UMF and VLRs to improve SDG implementation in cities through evidence-based planning; capacity-building in planning, governance, revenue and service delivery; and securing the financing for local SDG impact initiatives. Through the programme, UN-Habitat aims to positively impact a million lives in about 1,000 cities through a systematic approach that combines evidence-based policymaking, digitized tools, technical backstopping, and matchmaking finances with catalytic, impactful projects that advance the SDGs.
In addition to the three components above, UN-Habitat hosts the secretariat and co-chairs the Local 2030 Coalition, the UN-wide initiative on localizing the SDGs. Local2030 Coalition is a platform for the convergence of networks of local and regional governments and their associations, national governments, businesses, community-based organizations and other local actors, and the United Nations system. It seeks to foster collaboration, incubate innovation, share solutions, and implement strategies that advance the SDGs, leveraging on rapid urbanization processes happening around the globe to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs.
UN-Habitat works closely with many international partners to enhance the coherence and impact of the international support to VLRs. Specifically, UN-Habitat works with United Cities Local Governments (UCLG), the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Regional Economic Commissions such as UNECA, UNESCAP, UNECE and UNESCWA. Moreover, UN-Habitat coordinates support and provides expertise to the UN Country Teams in their effort to facilitate the development of VLRs and the connection with the Voluntary National Review (VNR) process.
Global Guiding Elements for Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) of SDG implementation
Asia-Pacific Regional Guidelines on Voluntary Local Reviews - Reviewing local progress to accelerate action for the Sustainable Development Goals
European Handbook for SDG Voluntary Local Reviews
Shimokawa Method for Voluntary Local Reviews
State of the Voluntary Local Reviews 2020:Local Action for Global Impact in Achieving the SDGs
State of the Voluntary Local Reviews 2021: From Reporting to Action
European cities localising the SDGs: experiences and lessons learned
UN-Habitat organizes international events and conferences on the topic of VLRs and SDG localization, with the aim of facilitating exchanges of ideas and practices and creating new partnerships. Also, UN-Habitat works closely with its partners to raise the voice of local governments and stakeholders within international and UN-led fora.
World Urban Forum
ECOSOC Partnership Forum Side Event
Enabling multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development at the local level
Date: February 2nd, 2022 (14:00 – 14:50 CET / 8:00 – 8:50 EST)
Location: Online (global outreach)
UN-Habitat, UNDP and the Local2030 Coalition are organizing an online side-event in the framework of the 2022 ECOSOC Partnership Forum. The session will explore different settings of multi-stakeholder partnerships led by both organizations that seek to advance the achievement of sustainable development at the local level and in line with the SDGs. This event aims to inspire and foster the debate on the benefits of engaging various stakeholders and their contribution to the delivery of the SDGs at the local level while revamping the social contract and reducing inequalities.
Visit 2022 ECOSOC Partnership Forum website here: https://sdgs.un.org/events/ecosoc-partnership-forum-2022
2nd Regional Partners Forum
Date: October 28-29 2021
Location: Online (global outreach)
Description: The 1st Regional Partners Forum had convened in 2017 to set out priority pathways for the implementation of the NUA, one year after Quito. ESCAP and UN-Habitat, in collaboration with the Penang Platform for Sustainable Urbanization, are now convening the 2nd Regional Partners Forum, as a regional contribution to the review of the progress made in Asia and the Pacific towards localizing the SDGs and achieving the NUA.
SDG Cities Global Conference
Date: October 29-31 2021
Location: Online (global outreach)
Description: The Conference, jointly hosted by UN-Habitat and the Municipality of Shanghai, together with the Global Sustainability Index Foundation, is one of a global series of events that make up Urban October 2021. It reflects on the progress in monitoring cities and reporting SDG progress through Voluntary Local Reviews (VLR) and introduces the Global Urban Monitoring Framework as an approach to harmonise urban data analytics.
Watch again the session on "Voluntary Local Reviews and their role in accelerating SDG implementation locally"
Launch of the Second Volume of the UN-Habitat-UCLG Guidelines for VLRs and the VLR Communiqué
July 14: 10:00am-12:00pm EDT | 16:00pm-18:00pm CEST | 17:00pm-19:00pm EAT
This session will launch the second volume of the UN-Habitat-UCLG guidelines for VLRs entitled Towards a new Generation of VLRs: Exploring the Local-National Link and the VLR Communiqué. The main findings and recommendations of the guidelines will be presented along with interventions from the key local and central governments that have inspired the research.
Metropolises and Voluntary Local Reviews: Launch of the VLR of the Metropolitan City of Florence
July 15: 05:00am-06:00am EDT | 11:00am-12:00pm CEST | 12:00pm-13:00pm EAT
This session will discuss the Metropolitan City of Florence’s first VLR, the role of metropolises in achieving the SDGs, and the reporting and monitoring processes of the VLR tool.
Voluntary Subnational Reviews Session
July 15: 09:00am-11:00am EDT | 15:00pm-17:00pm CEST | 16:00pm-18:00pm EAT
Eight countries prepared Voluntary Subnational Reviews (VSRs) or Local Governments Voluntary Reviews in 2021: Cape Verde, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. This session will present the main findings of the VSRs developed in 2021 and facilitate discussion of the reports.
Data and Indicators in VLR and VSR processes
July 16: 05:00am-06:30am EDT | 11:00am-12:30pm CEST | 12:00pm-13:30pm EAT
UN-Habitat has led the development of a set of indicators to track the progress of the SDGs and the New Urban Agenda at the local level - the Global Urban Monitoring Framework (UMF). This session will discuss how these indicators allow deeper thematic analysis and create an understanding of differences experienced at district and sub-district levels of cities.
Social Inclusion and Participatory Processes in VLRs and VSRs
July 16: 10:00am-11:30am EDT | 16:00pm-17:30pm CEST | 17:00pm-18:30pm EAT
The session will allow stakeholders that working on VLRs and VSRs to share best practices in community engagement and social inclusion throughout the different stages of the process.
Voluntary Local Reviews
Reach out to UN-Habitat and join the VLR Global Movement!
We can help you develop your review, access knowledge and innovation and connect your experience with international events and partners.
Reach out to us for more information:
Urban Practices Branch
Global Solutions Division