Contributions of the voluntary local review process to policy integration: evidence from frontrunner cities

In npj Urban Sustainability
Peer-reviewed Article
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The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) relies on effective policy integration at all levels of government. However, integration across policy domains remains challenging for local authorities, particularly when it comes to articulating policies that recognise trade-offs and interactions between different SDGs. This study explores how the Voluntary Local Review (VLR) process—a tool to localise the 2030 Agenda—contributes to policy integration by thematically analysing interviews with city officials in 12 frontrunner cities that conducted a VLR between 2019 and 2020. Our results suggest three main ways in which the VLR process affects policy integration: (1) by facilitating cooperation and interdependencies between different policy sectors; (2) by creating new instruments to mainstream SDGs; and (3) by enhancing sustainability competencies. Hence, our study suggests that conducting a VLR has the transformative potential to achieve greater policy integration and further the 2030 Agenda.