How Can Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) Amplify Local Sustainability?

IISD SDG Knowledge Hub
Commentary (Op. Ed)
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The 2021 High-level Political Forum (HLPF) consolidated the prime role of VLRs (Voluntary Local Reviews) in localizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A record number of local governments – 17 cites –presented a 2021 VLR by July 2021 according to UN-Habitat. By comparison, 26 VLRs were published in 2020. VLRs have also gained broader recognition: they were mentioned in the Voluntary National Reviews of countries such as Japan and Germany, and were referred to for the first time in the Ministerial Declaration that was adopted at the conclusion of the 2021 HLPF. However, if the VLR movement wants to speed up the transition to sustainable development pathways, it is worth asking: how can VLRs amplify local sustainability? VLRs are useful because they provide a bird’s eye view on the working of local governments, helping to find synergies between existing strategies, identify policy gaps, and create partnerships with multiple stakeholders. This article argues that VLRs hold the power to amplify local sustainability by encouraging cross-sectoral collaboration within local administrations.