State of the Voluntary Local Reviews 2021: From Reporting to Action

Research Report
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Amidst the COVID-19 global pandemic, which spread across the whole world in 2020, local and regional governments have continued their work to localise the ambitious goals set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Since 2018, local and regional governments began the review and follow- up process to monitor their progress towards achieving the SDGs. Known as Voluntary Local Review (VLR), this process echoes that carried out by national governments, known as the Voluntary Local Review (VNR). A VLR opens avenues for local governments to better understand their current standing in achieving the 2030 Agenda, identifies policy gaps needing attention, and gives them an opportunity to join the global conversation on sustainable development.

This report is the second of a series initiated by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in 2020 to annually review the progress of the VLR movement. It focuses on the VLR reports published in 2020, as identified by the authors (as of May 2021). The State of the Voluntary Local Reviews 2021 report explores the 2020 group of VLRs along two main themes: first, the influence of the VLR process on the SDG governance structure; and second, the integration between national and local review processes (VNR-VLR integration). Through this analysis, this report reflects on the current direction of the VLR movement and identifies the benefits a VLR can bring to local governments. At its core, the VLR allows for a cross-departmental review and monitoring of initiatives to advance the SDGs while also facilitating peer-learning. A VLR also helps to streamline SDG governance structures and has the potential to ease vertical integration. Finally, VLRs can be instrumental in envisioning best pathways towards a more sustainable and just post-COVID-19 world.